Rotating Aerodrome Beacon

Rotating aerodrome beacons were, and are, an important means of locating an aerodrome visually at night. The rotating of the beacon results in an apparently flashing light. The light can be arranged to flash different colours (usually white and/or green) and for different durations in order to identify a particular aerodrome.

Where the light period is shorter than the dark period, this is 'flashing'. Where the light period is longer than the dark period, this is called 'occulting'.

Before the Second World War, rotating beacons were installed at major aerodromes. Rotating Airway Beacons, essentially the same as aerodrome beacons, were also installed along some of the major airways (e.g. Perth-Adelaide) to permit navigation at night in the days before radio navigation aids.




In the post-war era, rotating aerodrome beacons were installed at all major aerodromes (usually those with an air traffic services unit - either Aeradio/Flight Service or ATC). Although the majority of outstation air traffic services units were withdrawn in the early 1990s, most of those aerodromes still retained their rotating beacon. However, in more recent times many of these beacons are being de-commissioned.

Aerodromes and airports with Control Towers continue to have rotating beacons, usually mounted on top of the Tower.

The beacon above was photographed at Bundaberg, Qld., in July 2003. Behind the beacon is an old, wartime wood-framed hangar. The beacon below was at Leigh Creek, South Australia and was photographed probably in the 1950s.


Rotating Beacon

Click here to see a close up of the Parafield rotating beacon c.1940s

(Photos: top-Phil Vabre; bottom-CAHS collection)

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