There’s No Runway Zero
After a brief soiree with summer-like conditions over the weekend, we returned to more seasonal flying conditions, once the cold front overcame the Mexican hurricane influence. The SkyDive center’s activities were blown out by 40-knot winds aloft at 3000 feet, which is about where canopies should be opening. If the parachutists are out of position at that point, they have no way to maneuver back to the drop zone. Most sport canopies can only manage about 20 mph forward speed during descent.
Traffic was light around the airport this week; a few Piper Archers from ATP training academy were in from Kansas City Downtown, a Cessna Centurion and a Beech Bonanza with wingtip fuel tanks stopped by, and that was about it. Locally, Jim Ferguson had his Cessna Skylane out of its hangar, Gerald Bauer flew a Cessna 150, and Jon Laughlin took a 150 to Lamar to check on his Piper Cherokee 180C. Christian Tucker made a similar hop to Clinton to see progress on his Cessna 140’s restoration, following up the next day with a trip to Iowa in the Cessna Skyhawk.
According to the ASOS broadcast, Nevada airport is set to reopen November 5th, once the lighting system is restored. Don’t be tempted to land there on the old 13/31 runway; the crossing of runway 2/20 would be hazardous and illegal.
We often hear pilots incorrectly announcing that they are using “runway zero two” or “turning final for zero one” where airports have runways aligned from northerly to easterly directions. In the US, runway numbers do not use “zeros” in their painted designation. A runway with a 20-degree magnetic orientation is called “runway two”, rounding its heading to the nearest ten-degree number.
Butler at one time had runway designations of “17” and “35” even though it was always north-south by the section lines. The magnetic north pole, from which compasses take their reading, shifts around every so many years, so if a runway centerline measurers 354 degrees , a 6-degree variation, it’ll be called “three five” instead of “three six”. Now we’re back to about 1.5 degrees of magnetic variation, so we’re “36” again. Kansas City International airport, on the other hand, had to repaint all its runway numbers about ten years ago, so they have runways 1/19 and 10/28, not because the pavement moved, but because the earth’s iron core shifted.
Somewhere in my archives, I have a picture of the Butler runway with “18” painted on the south end and “36” on the north end, right after it was freshly repaved. The painting contractor was given a print of the job by the paving company, and it was flipped around in the process; the painters dutifully did as they were instructed, from the print, not knowing anything about airport markings. In a couple of days, somebody noticed the error, and they got paid again to paint it right.
We asked, in last week’s column, the reason air traffic controllers query a pilot “how many souls are onboard?’ when they are working an emergency situation. It’s because there might be human remains being carried in the cargo hold, and if there’s a crash the cadaver could be confused with a missing person by rescue personnel. Don’t be offended if you’re referred to as an “SOB”. For next week, tell us the name of the last person to walk on the surface of the Moon. You can send your answers to email@example.com.