Thursday, August 24, 2017
Airway Beacon and Arrow in Dubois, Idaho
In the early days of aviation pilots used landmarks to chart their course which worked fine in the more populated eastern US but not as well in the west or at the night or in stormy weather. The US Post Office realized the benefit of using small planes for fast mail delivery and came up with a solution for night flights, inclement weather, and the lack of landmarks in the west. Between 1923 and 1933 1500 beacons were erected to guide the pilots over 18,000 miles of airmail routes. The beacons were spaced approximately 10 miles apart with large, concrete arrows, painted bright yellow, and positioned on the ground pointing in the correct direction.
By the 1940s navigation and radio technology had improved to the point where the beacons could be phased out. Many towers were removed and the concrete arrows crumbled but there are still 321 towers and 115 arrows scattered across the US. The beacon and arrow in Dubois, which are in very good condition, were recently restored by a couple of aviation history enthusiasts. The beacon is located south of Dubois in the small Dubois Municipal Airport. There aren’t any signs pointing to it or explaining it’s significance. Beacons 44.16886, -112.22433
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Cool beans, but who knew?ReplyDelete
Not many people. We heard about them a few months ago when our sister-in-law sent us an article about them. Never thought we would find one in such good condition! There are still a few in use in the mountains of Montana.Delete
Now HOW did you find this one???? Just amazing Karen, amazing...ReplyDelete
My sister-in-law gets the credit for this. She was googling around one day and found a story about the beacons. She asked if we had ever seen any of them. We hadn't but I was curious so I read some articles about them.Delete
Fast forward to the eclipse. I checked to see if anything was happening in Dubois which was only about 4 miles away from where we were boondocking and found a story about the people who were restoring the beacon. Kind of exciting because I knew what the beacons were! It was cool to go see one in person - an almost forgotten piece of history.
I was in Arizona, there was an arrow & a sign explaining what it was for. I think it was Arizona, might have been New Mexico. Neat none the less!ReplyDelete
I'd never heard of the towers.
Flying airmail at night in those days had to be exciting, even with lighted beacons every 10 miles, there are real mountains out west!
Good story, thanks for passing it on!
Cool! We'll be on the lookout for more beacons and arrows.Delete
The two crazy restoration people are Greg Cobia and me, Kaarin Engelnann. We are working on informational markers and signs and displays, as well, and on restoring other installations. We are very happy you have enjoyed our work, thus far, and hope you return to Idsho and check out more. Our website, which is just starting out, is http://www.idaviationheritage.org.ReplyDelete
Thanks for the reply! And thanks for saving this piece of history!Delete
PS: Check out http://idaviationheritage.org/2018/04/12/resources-related-to-early-airmail-service-in-the-united-states/ for additional resources.ReplyDelete
Good links! I'm adding it to the bottom of the blog post.Delete
Wish I could spell properly. Siri is killing me :-)ReplyDelete