Category Archives: airport communications

Airport 101: Signs Point the Way at Chicago Executive

PWK-19As they do around town, signs tell pilots where they are on Chicago Executive Airport and point the way to the runway and ramp and the taxiways that connect them. The only difference is that airport signs are color coded, lighted, and much closer to the ground on their frangible mounts. And they are sometimes painted on the pavement, usually identifying positions on low visibility taxi routes. In all, there are six types of airport signs. They relay mandatory instructions, location, direction, destination, information, and runway distance remaining.

Mandatory instruction signs are red with white letters and identify critical areas, such as the entrance to a runway or areas where aircraft entry is prohibited. Runway hold position signs are adjacent to the yellow hold short markings on the pavement and their alphanumeric display identifies the intersecting runway. If the taxiway intersects the runway at midfield, the runway numbers on the sign correspond, left and right, to the respective runway’s threshold.  Similar signs that bear a runway number and APCH or ILS indicate holding positions that keep aircraft a safe distance from the runway in foul weather so they do not interfere with instrument approach operations or the electronic systems that are guiding pilots to the runway.

Location, direction, and destination signs use combinations of yellow and black. Taxiway location signs use yellow characters on a black background with a yellow border. Often they are connected to direction or runway holding signs. Direction signs use black symbols in a yellow background and identify the intersecting taxiway with its alphanumeric designator and an arrow pointing in the direction a pilot would normally be expected to turn.

Direction signs are generally located on the left side of the taxiway before an intersection. If there is more than one way to go, the taxiway designations and their associated arrows are displayed clockwise starting from the first taxiway on the pilot’s left.

PWK-17Information signs have black characters on a yellow background and provide pilots with all sorts of pertinent information such as applicable radio frequencies or noise abatement procedures. Their content is determined by each airport’s operator.

Runway distance remaining signs are white numbers on a black background and are installed along one or both sides of a runway. The number indicates the distance, in thousands of feet, of the remaining useable runway. The last sign—1—will be at least 950 feet from the end of the runway.

All signs work in conjunction with pavement markings, which correspond to each airport’s diagram. The diagram is the pilot’s airport map that shows and names each runway and taxiway that lead to ramps and hangars and fixed-base operators. And at airports with towers, like Chicago Exec, the ground controller provides them with a taxi clearance that delineates their route from point to point, and will provide progressive instructions to newcomers that will lead them, turn-by-turn, to where they want to go.

EMAS: It Just Works

EMAS FalconIt seems as if it was just a few months ago that we published a story explaining that the airport’s new engineered materials arresting system (EMAS) was operational.

Actually, come to think of it, we did just write that story in November, explaining the safety benefits of a new EMAS now stationed at each end of the long, essentially north to south, runway 16/34.

The EMAS was installed after the FAA published a requirement for a safety barrier at each end of the runway at most airports. Unfortunately, Chicago Executive airport is land-locked with no extra open space to simply lay down an extra 1,000 feet of concrete at each end, of the runway to create that barrier, known as a Runway Safety Area. EMAS was the next best option.

In the early morning hours of January 26, just three months after the final EMAS work was completed, a Falcon jet pilot had trouble stopping his aircraft as he landed to the south from over Wheeling.

As the pilot approached the crushable EMAS blocks at the south end of the airport near Palatine Rd., the barrier performed precisely as it was designed. The blocks began to crumble under the weight of the 20,000 lbs. airplane and halted the aircraft in about 150 feet, preventing it from entering nearby Palatine Road. Neither of the two pilots was injured and damage to the aircraft was minimal. The aircraft has since flown out of the airport and back to its home base in Michigan. The reason the pilot was unable to stop is still under investigation by the FAA.EMAS still

What’s really important about this story though is that the EMAS worked perfectly in January and brought the airplane to a safe stop with only minor damage. While an EMAS installation is not cheap, the Falcon pilots, as well as everyone in the community can rest easier knowing that the large aircraft that use runway 16/34 can indeed be stopped within the airport boundary in an emergency. Until repairs – estimated to cost about $396,000 – the barrier is still operational, except for the few blocks damaged by the Falcon that were removed. And in case you’re wondering, the airport doesn’t have to pay for the repairs. That bill gets sent to the insurance company of the Falcon’s operator.

Other business aviation airports that also thought ahead enough to install EMAS include, Greenville Downtown SC, Hyannis Barnstable MA. Dutchess County NY, Teterboro NJ, St.Paul Downtown MN, Kansas City Downtown MO, Newcastle Wilmington DE, Telluride CO, Martin County MD, Republic airport NY, Groton New London CT, Cleveland Burke Lakefront OH, Addison TX, and Monterey CA.

Laser Pointers: Tool, Toy & Anti-Aircraft Weapon

faa-photo-laser3-highest-res-1936x1296When focusing the audience’s attention on the pertinent portions of a PowerPoint presentation, the laser pointer is a tool. When exercising your cats by giving them a red or green dot to chase, the laser pointer is a toy.

When you point it skyward, it can be an anti-aircraft weapon.

And when you point it with purpose at an airplane, it is a federal offense subject to stiff fines (up to $250,000 and $11,000 for each violation) and possible relocation to a secure facility that will limit your view of the sky for up to 20 years.

As aviation-aware readers of the Chicago Exec blog, you already know this, and you fully understand the multitude of unhappy consequences for a pilot—and his or her passengers—blinded by a laser pointer. But members of your extended family, friends, acquaintances, coworkers, and colleagues may not know that thoughtlessly aiming a laser pointer skyward—especially around any airport—can lead to bad things. So we urge you to share this story with them through your social media connections.

Looking at the period-size dot of light the cat chases, you may wonder why pointing a laser (which stands for “light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation”) at an aircraft is such a bad thing. What are the chances of hitting a moving target with that little dot of light, anyway? (Better than you think, which is why laser sights on assault weapons are so popular.) Without getting too deep into Big Bang physics, spatial coherence focuses the light into the dot cats love to chase, and it allows that dot to be projected over great distances.

But the dot does grow with distance, and by the time it reaches an aircraft flying at 1,000 feet above the ground, it is many times bigger that a period of light. When it hits the minutely scratched surface of an aircraft windscreen, it instantly diffuses, creating a flash of intensely bright light. If you want to experience this for yourself, find a friend and good-sized camera strobe, go outside on a dark night and wait 20 minutes for your night vision to stabilize, then have your friend hold the strobe at windscreen distance from your open eyes. When your friend fires the strobe, without warning, into your open eyes, he or she should note the time to see how long it takes for you to see anything other than the flash.

Now imagine that you, if you’re a pilot, or your pilot, if you’re not, were on final approach and cleared to land at Chicago Executive Airport when the laser flash blinded you. This is but one example of the hazards and effects of a laser strike.

For more information, the latest laser news, laws, and civil penalties, and a pilot safety information brochure, visit the FAA’s Laser Safety Initiative website. Pilots can also report a laser incident on the site, and they can rest assured that the FAA, FBI, and local authorities will use this information to identify—and track down—repeat offenders.

B4U Fly

B4U flyThe FAA on Tuesday released a new smartphone app called – B4U Fly – to tell users about current or upcoming requirements and restrictions in areas of the National Airspace System (NAS) where they may want to operate their unmanned aircraft system (UAS). The app is now available for Apple devices and can be downloaded from the App Store.

The B4UFLY app includes a number of enhancements the FAA developed as a result of user feedback during the beta testing announced in May 2015 . Within two taps, users know if it is safe to fly at their current location. The app provides a status indicator that tells users: “Proceed with Caution,” “Warning – Action Required,” or “Flight Prohibited.” The app also features a planner mode that allows users to select a different time and location for an upcoming flight and determine if there are any restrictions at that place and time.

By law, hobbyists who want to fly within five miles of an airport must notify the airport operator and the air traffic control facility (if there is one) prior to flying. For now, B4UFLY will ask users who are supposed to notify the airport before flying for voluntary information about their planned flight. This will not meet the statutory requirement to notify the airport and air traffic control facility, but the data will help the agency make informed policy decisions related to notification. This information will not be publicly available.

More detailed information is available at  B4UFLY webpage.

Long-Time PWK Pilot Announces Retirement From CAP

Lou Wipotnik and Jamie_30 Nov 2015Civil Air Patrol (CAP) Lt. Colonel Lou Wipotnik, a long-time PWK flight instructor and former commander of the Chicago Executive airport squadron last week donated a hand-carved model of a Cessna 172 to the growing office collection of airport Executive Director Jamie Abbott. The donation occurred as Wipotnik announced his retirement from the CAP after 26 years of service, effective November 30, 2015. The 172 is an exact replica of N903CP, a CAP aircraft once based at PWK.

Wipotnik said, “I wanted to offer the Executive Director a small token of appreciation for the years of wonderful treatment he’s offered CAP, as well as the cooperation we’ve received from the Village of Wheeling and the City of Prospect Heights.”

Lou Wipotnik began flying in 1957 at Sallie’s Flying School at PWK and joined CAP that same year rising to become first the squadron and then CAP group commander until he enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1964. He returned to PWK in 1989 and served at the PWK squadron until his retirement.

Wipotnik was also in 1996 named the FAA’s Flight Instructor of the Year and was recently inducted into the Illinois Aviation Hall of Fame for 2016. Despite his retirement from CAP, Lou says he’ll continue to teach people to fly at the Leading Edge Flying Club and Fly There LLC, both based at hangar 5, as well as with individual aircraft owners.

One PWK Pilot’s Story: Why He Flies

Chgo nightI’m sorry.

Unasked, I feel compelled to write about my flying experience this past Sunday night. I’m not sure if I am apologizing because I am sharing a personal story without you asking for it, or if it’s  because you weren’t with me. Over the last 1500 hours, I’ve had many pleasant flights. Like all pilots, most flights cause me to say out loud, “I love flying!”  But this night was somehow different.

My flight to BMI was uneventful, but exciting as I was flying down to enjoy dinner with one of my sons who happened to be in town to see a client. Flying is always great, but has special meaning when I can see family….. AND EAT!  As an added benefit, I found a new great restaurant.

After dinner, he dropped us off, and after a preflight, we headed north to PWK. The flight was only about 30 minutes, and as we approached Chicago, I descended to stay under the Bravo (O’Hare airspace). With the lights below and the dark sky above, I dimmed the panel, making the plane almost invisible. Combined with a glass like smoothness in the air, it created a visual I couldn’t remember experiencing before. It was as if I was in an easy chair, and I was directing the chair through a magical world. There was no sense of speed, other than the city lights moving by below me. I didn’t want the flight to end, and wished all of my friends (pilot and non-pilot alike) could’ve been with me.

I write and talk to pilots about getting out to the airport to go flying.  I’m always amazed how little we fly, considering how much we all love it. I’m hoping reading this will serve as a catalyst for some of you to find your own special aviation moment. Get back in the plane and experience something that so few people will ever know.

And learn from me, invite someone to share it with.

ME

March Epner flies a Cirrus and also serves as president of the Leading Edge Flying Club based at PWK’s hangar 5

Airport Photo Contest Winner Announced

15- Neal Kesler 01The results are in and Neal Kesler and his Cessna 182 have taken home the gold … well, so to speak.

Don’t take it too personally if your photo didn’t make the cut for the airport newsletter here. We never seem to tire of seeing new photos of airport people and their machines, so send us yours. All that we ask is that it is your original photo and was shot somewhere at PWK. Of course there’s no prize, just a great photo published for all to see.

E-mail it to Rob Mark at the airport communications office … rmark@chiexec.com. Who knows, maybe we’ll be looking at yours in a few weeks too.

 

Around the Airport

Executive Director Hand Delivers Some Cash

PAPA1

Madeleine Monaco with Airport Executive Director Jamie Abbott

The PWK Board of Directors and the airport’s Executive Director last week delivered a check for $2,000 to Madeleine Monaco, this year’s President of the Chicago Executive Pilots’ Association. The check, destined for the pilot association’s scholarship fund, was the airport’s donation from money earned at the July 4th weekend’s 5K race that brought over 400 runners and walkers to the field. Each year in June, the pilots association announces the winners of that year’s scholarships. The total amount awarded annually is equal to roughly half of the amount donated each year.

Scholarship winners are students attending an Illinois accredited institute of higher learning in an aviation program focused on a wide range of subjects in addition to learning to fly. Monaco said, “The past few years have brought us many applicants across the spectrum of aviation careers. All have shown dedication, good grades, financial need and good career goals. We have also funded cadet flight training from time to time at the Johnson Flight Academy held each year at Coles County Airport for Civil Air Patrol Cadets.” In the recent past, individual scholarships amounts have averaged about $1,000 range although one in 2013 did total $6,500. Monaco said the association hopes to see the scholarship’s base fund continue growing each year. Learn more about the Chicago Executive Pilots Association online.

Airport Noise Committee Holds First Meeting

The Airport Noise Committee (ANC) met for the first time on September 15th at the airport office to discuss the group’s purpose, as well as the details of how subject matter would be handled in the future. Future quarterly meetings were scheduled including the December’s that will takes place on December 8th at 6:30 p.m., again at the airport office. The ANC is comprised of one Aldermen from Prospect Hts. and one Trustee from Wheeling, in addition to three local residents, one from Wheeling, one from Prospect Hts. and one from Mt. Prospect. rounding out the ANC is airport Executive Director Jamie Abbott, Airport Communications Director Rob Mark and PWK Tower Manager Jim Bergagna. The group generally agreed to evaluate a number of issues on the table, such as possibly adding noise monitors around the airport to measure noise levels, as well as updating the airport’s noise models that recently expired. Another goal is to develop cost-effective solutions to airport-generated noise when possible while reviewing how noise complaints currently generated by local residents will also fit into the ANC’s agenda. The group learned that the option to seek federal funding for any local noise sound proofing of homes, for instance, is dependent upon first updating those old noise models. Jamie Abbott said he’d be talking to the Board about that at the next meeting in October. While the next quarterly meeting is, of course, open to the public, questions or comments about airport noise issues or topics to be added to the next agenda may be sent at any time to Rob Mark at rmark@chiexec.com, prior to that December meeting.

Wheeling/Prospect Hts. Chamber of Commerce Holds Business Meeting at Atlantic AviationWPH CHamber 9-15

Also on September 15th, nearly 50 people attended an event created by the Wheeling/Prospect Hts. Chamber of Commerce, in conjunction with both the airport and Atlantic Aviation to help create the next generation of leaders in the manufacturing industry. Key to the event’s success this year and in the future, will be matching the needs of local businesses with the programs young people are studying before they graduate from local academic institutions such as Harper College, National Lewis University, District 214, Wheeling High School and Solex College. Wheeling Village Manager Dean Argiris and Prospect Hts. Mayor Nick Helmer kicked off the afternoon’s presentations, followed by comments from representatives of the various schools and finally much Q & A from the audience. The audience also learned that Wheeling and Prospect Hts. are part of the fourth largest manufacturing district in the United States. While this was the first time this particular chamber leadership gathering was held, it is expected to become an annual event. More information about the Wheeling Prospect Hts. Chamber of Commerce is available online.

A Blog Means Airport News

blogWelcome to Chicago Executive Airport’s new blog.

For people new to this sort of communication, a blog is a local online newspaper of sorts. This one just happens to be for and about Chicago Executive airport, also known as PWK to pilots. Over the coming months, we’ll publish stories that explain why the airport exists and what owning it means for the communities of Wheeling and Prospect Heights that jointly own the place.

Our goals here, in alphabetical order, are to educate, entertain, and inform you about all aspects of the airport and the communities it serves. One measure of our success will be your level of surprise, as in, “Gee, I didn’t know that!” The most interesting part of a blog is that it’s a two-way street. If you like what you see here, you’ll be able to comment. And if you don’t like what you see or read, you can still comment … as long as your language doesn’t become offensive of course.

Introducing members of Chicago Exec’s extended family to each other is one of our driving forces with this venture because it fosters an appreciation of the people who contribute to the success of the airport, whether they work on the airport or live and work in the local community.PWK Race 2015

We believe that no endeavor is insignificant. Cutting the grass may seem like nothing more than a seasonal task; but how many people even appreciate what contribution the height of the grass plays in the airport’s wildlife management plan? Or what about the training required to drive in the airport’s operations area? What kinds of people work in the control tower and what exactly do they do there? What about the local firefighters and police who work the airport? Certainly you must have questions about what happens on the airport, so e-mail them to us and we’ll do our best to answer.

While we all work hard at PWK, we also believe in having a little fun along the way, like our 5K Run the Runway race last week, or that same evening’s community entertainment topped off with our first ever fireworks show.

We’ve made it easy for you to follow what happens at the airport too. In the gray column way over to the right of this story, you’ll see our subscribe icon. Just type in your e-mail and we’ll add you to our mailing list. Then every few weeks when we post a new story, you’ll be able to read them, as well as comments if you choose. You can also follow us on Facebook at: pwkairport and on Twitter @pwkchiexec

You can always reach me at rmark@chiexec.com

Thanks for reading. 

Rob Mark, Airport Communications