Nisha Marvel, WSDOT Aviation Division communications, 360-651-6310
18204 59th Drive N.E., Suite B - Arlington, WA 98223
WINTHROP – After receiving more than 400 responses on the rotating beacon at the Methow Valley State Airport, the Washington State Department of Transportation has requested the Federal Aviation Administration allow the beacon to be pilot-activated. The FAA normally requires rotating beacons to operate from dusk to dawn at federally funded, lighted airports such as Methow.
The decision to make the request came after WSDOT completed the Methow Valley Airport Beacon Visual Report (pdf 1,400 kb). The report concludes that all beacon angles tested impacted neighbors and Methow’s unique night sky. It recommends that the beacon be pilot-activated considering the low usage of the airport by pilots between dusk and dawn.
The beacon will remain off until a decision is made on how to move forward.
WSDOT turned off the beacon July 18, 2012, following community concerns that the beacon’s light was intrusive to airport neighbors. WSDOT then initiated a visual impact analysis to study the effects of the beacon on the community and obtain more input.
WSDOT asked the Methow community to weigh in during a public comment period from Nov. 9-16. More than 90 percent of the comments indicated that attempts to minimize the beacon’s effect on the community, including different angles and shielding, resulted in no improvement. Many residents preferred to have a pilot-activated beacon rather than operating the beacon from dusk to dawn.
The beacon was installed as part of the recently completed Methow Airport Layout Plan, which laid the groundwork for several safety projects, including lighting improvements, obstruction surveying, obstruction removal, perimeter fencing and runway safety area grading.