July 22, 2008

Yuma’s First Airport Beacon Continues to Shine

By Joyce Lobeck, The Sun, Yuma, Ariz.

Jul. 22--Yuma's original airport beacon no longer guides aviators home, but its light will continue to shine.

The beacon, retired in 2002 after 51 years in service, is now on permanent display in the lobby of the Yuma International Airport terminal.

"It was a landmark here for the aviation world," said Col. Mark A. Werth, the new commanding officer of Marine Corps Air Station Yuma.

For 51 years the beacon shone as a navigational aid to guide aviators at night or during adverse weather, he said. Now it shines as a symbol of the joint-use relationship between the civilian airport and the air station.

Werth unveiled the new display during a ceremony Tuesday, assisted by Karl Moedl, president of the Yuma County Airport Authority.

As it turned out, the terminal was packed at the time with people waiting for flights.

Every U.S. city with an airport has the landmark "rotating beacon," the brilliant revolving green-and-white floodlight that marks the airport's location to pilots flying at night, said Craig Williams, Yuma airport director.

The beacon now on display is Yuma's original, installed in 1951. It was replaced in 2002 with a modern appliance, but its last function was to be registered by the MCAS historian as a National Historic Object.

"This beacon has led countless military and civilian aviators to a safe arrival for over half a century," Williams said in a news release.

When it was removed from the MCAS tower, the beacon was placed on display in the base operations lobby. Recent renovations of the building made it necessary to find another viewing area. So MCAS Yuma and the airport teamed up to establish a permanent home for the beacon on prominent display in the terminal.

In preparation for the display, airport staff worked with local craftsmen to reilluminate the beacon -- at a much lower wattage -- so its light can once again shine, Williams said.

"We were happy to bring it over here ... for all aviation enthusiasts to enjoy," Werth said.


Joyce Lobeck can be reached at [email protected] or 539-6853.


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