timz
Posts: 6116
Joined: Fri Sep 17, 1999 7:43 am

1950's Beacon At London Airport?

Mon Mar 19, 2007 7:52 am

From a 1953 book:

"A unique lighting beacon is part of the airport equipment. This is made up of thirty-six fluorescent tubes eight and one-half feet long which shine like electric eels in the darkness. They flash out London Airport's identification letters five times a minute. The beacon has been seen by pilots at a distance of twenty miles."

Did this beacon rotate? Did it flash "LON ... LON ... LON" or "L ... O ... N ..."? Or did it flash the Morse for LON? Were the pilots alleged to be able to "read" it from twenty miles? How long did it last?
 
philb
Posts: 2645
Joined: Mon May 24, 1999 5:53 am

RE: 1950's Beacon At London Airport?

Mon Mar 19, 2007 8:38 pm

I made my first visit to London Airport (LAP) in the Spring of 1956. From memory this beacon was situated close to the then long haul terminal at was was known as London Airport North, close to the A4 road and where the Visitor Centre was until fairly recently.

The letters flashed were in morse and, from memory were LAP.
 
CV580Freak
Posts: 886
Joined: Sat Jul 23, 2005 12:39 am

RE: 1950's Beacon At London Airport?

Tue Mar 20, 2007 12:58 am

Never saw this flashing sign but did see the a sign on a gasometer tower in Southall saying LHR with an arrow to stop aircraft trying to land at RAF Northolt.
One day you are the pigeon, the next the statue ...
 
User avatar
shamrock350
Posts: 4671
Joined: Mon Mar 28, 2005 12:38 am

RE: 1950's Beacon At London Airport?

Tue Mar 20, 2007 2:29 am

Quoting CV580Freak (Reply 2):
Never saw this flashing sign but did see the a sign on a gasometer tower in Southall saying LHR with an arrow to stop aircraft trying to land at RAF Northolt.

It's that the massive blue tower, I often see it on my way to LHR and from Harrow on the Hill where I live.
Here's a picture with L H... and an arrow on it.
http://www.flickr.com/photo_zoom.gne?id=394002595&size=l
 
CV580Freak
Posts: 886
Joined: Sat Jul 23, 2005 12:39 am

RE: 1950's Beacon At London Airport?

Tue Mar 20, 2007 2:44 am

That's the one, massive LHR.

I think it was an Air India flight that landed at Northolt by mistake (not sure what type or when) but they had to strip it out to get it to take off !!!

True or an urban legend - not sure  Yeah sure
One day you are the pigeon, the next the statue ...
 
User avatar
shamrock350
Posts: 4671
Joined: Mon Mar 28, 2005 12:38 am

RE: 1950's Beacon At London Airport?

Tue Mar 20, 2007 2:51 am

Quoting CV580Freak (Reply 4):
I think it was an Air India flight that landed at Northolt by mistake (not sure what type or when) but they had to strip it out to get it to take off !!!

True or an urban legend - not sure

Not sure about Air India but I do think a KLM aircraft maybe a Fokker 100 landed there once, not sure it was a mistake though.
I live right under the approach for Northolt and the aircraft are pretty boring, the most exciting being a BBJ, The queens Bae-146 which goes past almost daily or Titan Bae-146 which landed there a few months ago.
 
CV580Freak
Posts: 886
Joined: Sat Jul 23, 2005 12:39 am

RE: 1950's Beacon At London Airport?

Tue Mar 20, 2007 3:34 am

I remember going spotting there when I was a lad, took hours to get there and then you sat on the grass for hours awaiting an arrival or departure and on some days you saw nothing apart from a couple of US military aircraft way over the other side of the field..........
One day you are the pigeon, the next the statue ...
 
shankly
Posts: 1199
Joined: Tue Jan 11, 2000 10:42 pm

RE: 1950's Beacon At London Airport?

Tue Mar 20, 2007 6:24 am

Not Air India, but a Pan Am 707 in 1960.

Has always struck me as highly amusing that a jet crew would have the time to notice writing on a gasometer during the landing phase
L1011 - P F M
 
carduelis
Posts: 1388
Joined: Wed Dec 05, 2001 8:24 pm

RE: 1950's Beacon At London Airport?

Tue Mar 20, 2007 6:31 am

Quoting Shankly (Reply 7):
highly amusing that a jet crew would have the time to notice writing on a gasometer

Actually it was written on the gasometer AFTER the event, in a moment of sarcastic British humour!
Per Ardua ad Astra! ........ Honi Soit Qui Mal y Pense!
 
jetjeanes
Posts: 897
Joined: Fri Oct 15, 2004 6:42 am

RE: 1950's Beacon At London Airport?

Tue Mar 20, 2007 6:35 am

Does anyone remember the brown building in the late 60,s or 70s?? Vagrants from the rail yard often sought shelter there
in the evening hours,and some odd fellow was killing them and stacked them up like firewood near the top floor for a couple of years. Didnt the killer pass away or had a heart attack before any Judgement on him was past???
i can see for 80 miles
 
philb
Posts: 2645
Joined: Mon May 24, 1999 5:53 am

RE: 1950's Beacon At London Airport?

Tue Mar 20, 2007 6:51 pm

Quoting Shankly (Reply 7):
Not Air India, but a Pan Am 707 in 1960.

Correct. The aircraft had to be stripped of galleys and seats and most removable parts not necessary for safe flight to fly out of Northolt to LHR.

Quoting Carduelis (Reply 8):
Actually it was written on the gasometer AFTER the event, in a moment of sarcastic British humour!

It was after the event but it had nothing to do with humour. There were two very similar gas holders, one on approach to Northolt, one to Heathrow 28 R. which were visible once established on a westerly heading over Central London. In the early 1960s the ILS at LHR on 28R wasn't always what it might have been and was regularly out of service for maintenance and "upgrading". If the weather was bad, GCA was used but, generally, a visual approach was selected and the gas holder was a reference point at a given distance from touchdown against which height could be checked to confirm a reasonable glideslope.

The Pan Am 707 wasn't the first to pick the wrong gas holder but it was one of a very few aircraft to actually land and the most difficult to extract. After the landing, each gas holder had the airport name and runway heading, plus an arrow painted on top to avoid confusion.