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Author Topic: FAQ: Howland Runways / Kamakaiwi Field / Pics of Howland colonists  (Read 34783 times)

Martin X. Moleski, SJ

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Re: Howland Runways / Kamakaiwi Field / Pics of Howland colonists
« Reply #15 on: December 29, 2011, 12:46:26 AM »

Sorry Marty. I'm missing it. There is nothing new in this new wiki compilation that explains the math discrepancy to me.

I've done the math in a new section of the article.

Quote
I don't think it even adds anything here.

I would say that the evidence that we have available demolishes your theory that Earhart would have been so worried about the conditions at Howland that it would have influenced her decision about how much gas to carry.

1. The work was conducted by an engineer.

2. It was inspected by several competent men.

3. The basic work was completed before the first world flight attempt.  "Airport and runway construction inspected and work commended by Black, Captain Meyer, Lieutenant Cooper. Consensus that facilities provided are entirely adequate" (#1469, Campbell to Wynne).

4. The runways were only in better condition for the second attempt three-and-a-half months later.  It had rained, which firmed up the surface.  Some low-lying weeds had grown on most of the runways, which also helped to act as a binder.  The work on flagging off the best portions reported in the Cooper message is part of putting icing on the cake; it would not be grounds for anxiety, but for reassurance about the quality of the work that had been done.

5. There were four barrels of high-octane gas waiting for her on Howland.  She did not have to conserve the high-octane gas she had on board in Lae.
 
The radio traffic does show that there was anxiety about the completion of the runways before the first attempt--but not anxiety about the quality of the supervisors or the dedication of the workers.  Campbell and the colonists worked 312 hours straight at one stretch.  That shows a very admirable work ethic. 

Quote
The birds were probably going to be a bigger problem.

Isn't it wonderful what you can learn from reading primary sources?
LTM,

           Marty
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Irvine John Donald

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Re: Howland Runways / Kamakaiwi Field / Pics of Howland colonists
« Reply #16 on: December 29, 2011, 08:33:02 AM »

Hi Marty. Thanks for putting in the new section. Your very last line in that new section is 2250' feet between markers, plus the narrow 300' addition, plus the flagged off 200', gives a total of 2750' available for takeoff.. I disagree with your intrepretation of the March 4 telegram where the 200 feet is mentioned. 
It says:
East west runway now complete. Two hundred feet of west end is sandy and soft though entirely usable. Have been having constant wind average about 16 miles per hour for past month since east wind prevails this time of year have made every effort to make east west runway as long and smooth as possible. Unfortunately have not equipment which can haul gravel to to be used as binder for sand. However balance of runway surface since being rolled is in excellent condition.
The runway was set out to be 2400 feet. The telegram above says runway now complete. Then says that 200 feet of west end is sandy and soft. Not that "we flagged an additional 200 feet that is sandy and soft".  Then it says "balance of runway surface" is good. That suggests the difference of the original 2400 feet less the 200 feet of sandy and soft. 

Also take the width of the island into account. 2640 feet probably plus or minus a fudge factor.  How do you get 2750 feet into 2640 feet?  I wonder if the island width is determined at low or high tide?  How much difference would that make?  However you couldn't have the end of your runway exposed to tidal effects.

Where I originally raised this issue was https://tighar.org/smf/index.php/topic,528.msg7003.html#msg7003.  I simply said that AE was thinking ahead (planning) to her takeoff from a newly constructed runway at Howland. This was in regard to the value of 100 Octane fuel. Since then this subject has taken on a life of its own.  There is no evidence to confirm AE was or was not "anxious" about her arrival or take off at Howland. I suggest she was no more anxious than any of her other take offs and landings on this trip. I think you're suggesting the same thing. We are interpreting the March 4 telegram differently. If nothing else the wording of the telegram could have been clearer.
Respectfully Submitted;

Irv
 
« Last Edit: December 29, 2011, 12:01:47 PM by Irvine John Donald »
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Tom Swearengen

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Re: Howland Runways / Kamakaiwi Field / Pics of Howland colonists
« Reply #17 on: December 29, 2011, 11:40:35 AM »

excellent work Marty----all of this is becoming clear now.
Tom
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Irvine John Donald

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Re: Howland Runways / Kamakaiwi Field / Pics of Howland colonists
« Reply #18 on: December 29, 2011, 12:11:45 PM »

Quote
The radio traffic does show that there was anxiety about the completion of the runways before the first attempt--but not anxiety about the quality of the supervisors or the dedication of the workers.  Campbell and the colonists worked 312 hours straight at one stretch.  That shows a very admirable work ethic. 
Quote

Sorry. One last point. I think the men did an amazing job with what they had. I have not disparaged them or their efforts.  If I did then I apologize. With the raw materials they had, the poor state of the equipment, the time constraint and the number of men on the island I think it was an absolute shame their efforts were never realized. Amazing effort.
Respectfully Submitted;

Irv
 
« Last Edit: December 30, 2011, 06:19:41 AM by Irvine John Donald »
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Gary LaPook

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Re: Howland Runways / Kamakaiwi Field / Pics of Howland colonists
« Reply #19 on: December 29, 2011, 11:07:28 PM »

What a shame that Howland had no future as an airport beyond AE's attempt.  It really was a magnificent effort.

The graphics bring it home - nice work, Marty.  Seeing the chart imposed on the photo really makes it 'real' somehow.  No doubt the terrain was optimized to gain what we see - fascinating layout.

Somehow though the folly of AE's effort may mirror the 'future' of land planes traversing the ocean in those days: inadvisable and not oft repeated, never at Howland.  Maybe she'd of been better off if the Navy had just lent her a PBY - and thus might have saved the U.S. Guv-mint a fair bit of money.

LTM -
Or if they had gone with the first plan to do in-flight refueling over Midway Island. Worst case was a mid-air and the Navy guys could have bailed out. The cost of the lost plane would have been less than building the runways on Howland.

gl
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Martin X. Moleski, SJ

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Re: Howland Runways / Kamakaiwi Field / Pics of Howland colonists
« Reply #20 on: December 29, 2011, 11:48:36 PM »

The runway was set out to be 2400 feet. The telegram above says runway now complete. Then says that 200 feet of west end is sandy and soft. Not that "we flagged an additional 200 feet that is sandy and soft".

The telegram that caused you (but not Amelia) so much anxiety dates from 25 June, almost four months later than the first mention of the sandy 200' on the E/W runway.

The telegram that caused you (but not Amelia) so much anxiety is the one that has much shorter distances for all three runways than any previous  messages:

  • N/S: 4200' vs. 5200' in last Campbell message (13 March).  Difference: -1000'.
  • NE/SW: 2600' vs. 3050'.  Difference: -450'.
  • E/W: 2250' vs. 2400'.  Difference: -150'.
I'm morally certain that these are the "Runway distances between markers," marked as available for landing.  For takeoff, more of the runways could be used than could be used for landing. 

For those who have eyes to see, this is what the 25 June Cooper telegram means.  Here, I'll highlight the important phrases:

"All runways at Howland Island in good condition with good approaches as now marked. Wind socks erected at intersection of runways and at west end of east west runway. Runway distances between markers as follows: north south 4200 feet, north east south west 2600 feet, east west 2250 feet. Prevailing wind from the east 15 mph. A 300 foot strip 50 feet wide is being added to west end of the east west runway to increase the total length to 2750 feet for take off."

  • "Good approaches" = "approaches to land the aircraft."  Pilots don't talk about "approaches to a takeoff."  So the markers mark landing zones on the three runways, which are notably shorter than the full length of the runway.
  • "Runway distances between markers" = "the following numbers are about the landing zone, not the takeoff zone."
  • "2750 feet for take off" = "Although we judge that only 2250' of the E/W runway are suitable for landing, with the 300' extension and the previously flagged off 200', that brings the total length of this runway to 2750 feet for take off."
landing zone of 2250' + sandy stretch of 200' + new, narrow strip of 300' = 2750'

The math really isn't that hard.
LTM,

           Marty
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Martin X. Moleski, SJ

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Re: Howland Runways / Kamakaiwi Field / Pics of Howland colonists
« Reply #21 on: December 29, 2011, 11:52:01 PM »

The portable radiophone had a standard marine frequency of 2670 kcs, it is still a standard marine frequency.

OK.  Earhart could have tuned her receiver to 2670 kcs.  But her transmitter was crystal-controlled for three frequencies: 500 kcs, 3105 kcs, 6210 kcs.  I guess they could have talked to her on 2670 kcs and she could have replied on 3105 or 6210 kcs, presuming that the portable radiophone would be near another receiver or headphone.
LTM,

           Marty
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Martin X. Moleski, SJ

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Re: Howland Runways / Kamakaiwi Field / Pics of Howland colonists
« Reply #22 on: December 29, 2011, 11:56:55 PM »

The graphics bring it home - nice work, Marty.  Seeing the chart imposed on the photo really makes it 'real' somehow.  No doubt the terrain was optimized to gain what we see - fascinating layout.

Kudos to Ric and Pat for finding the chart and publishing it in Finding Amelia.

Quote
Somehow though the folly of AE's effort may mirror the 'future' of land planes traversing the ocean in those days: inadvisable and not oft repeated, never at Howland.  Maybe she'd of been better off if the Navy had just lent her a PBY - and thus might have saved the U.S. Guv-mint a fair bit of money.

Finding Amelia explains how the airport was planned anyway, both as grounds for claiming the islands for the U.S. and as emergency strips for aircraft.  I'm not sure how much extra the preparations of the runways cost the government.  The workers definitely suffered--312 hours in a row of grading is a lot of work, no matter how you slice it.  That, more than the money, shows me what power she wielded over men.  Still does, I guess.  I'm one of her guys, too.   8)

LTM -
LTM,

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Irvine John Donald

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Re: Howland Runways / Kamakaiwi Field / Pics of Howland colonists
« Reply #23 on: December 30, 2011, 07:42:58 AM »

The runway was set out to be 2400 feet. The telegram above says runway now complete. Then says that 200 feet of west end is sandy and soft. Not that "we flagged an additional 200 feet that is sandy and soft".

The telegram that caused you (but not Amelia) so much anxiety dates from 25 June, almost four months later than the first mention of the sandy 200' on the E/W runway.

The telegram that caused you (but not Amelia) so much anxiety is the one that has much shorter distances for all three runways than any previous  messages:

  • N/S: 4200' vs. 5200' in last Campbell message (13 March).  Difference: -1000'.
  • NE/SW: 2600' vs. 3050'.  Difference: -450'.
  • E/W: 2250' vs. 2400'.  Difference: -150'.
I'm morally certain that these are the "Runway distances between markers," marked as available for landing.  For takeoff, more of the runways could be used than could be used for landing. 

For those who have eyes to see, this is what the 25 June Cooper telegram means.  Here, I'll highlight the important phrases:

"All runways at Howland Island in good condition with good approaches as now marked. Wind socks erected at intersection of runways and at west end of east west runway. Runway distances between markers as follows: north south 4200 feet, north east south west 2600 feet, east west 2250 feet. Prevailing wind from the east 15 mph. A 300 foot strip 50 feet wide is being added to west end of the east west runway to increase the total length to 2750 feet for take off."

  • "Good approaches" = "approaches to land the aircraft."  Pilots don't talk about "approaches to a takeoff."  So the markers mark landing zones on the three runways, which are notably shorter than the full length of the runway.
  • "Runway distances between markers" = "the following numbers are about the landing zone, not the takeoff zone."
  • "2750 feet for take off" = "Although we judge that only 2250' of the E/W runway are suitable for landing, with the 300' extension and the previously flagged off 200', that brings the total length of this runway to 2750 feet for take off."
landing zone of 2250' + sandy stretch of 200' + new, narrow strip of 300' = 2750'

The math really isn't that hard.

Okay Marty.  I went to Google Earth to that same image you have provided.  I used the measuring tool and using your new runway overlaid image as a guide, I measured the east west runway as you laid out.  The length I got from that is 2450' approximately.  That was measured from inside of each of the beach areas. 

200' of the west end is then reported as soft sand.  You can see this change in topography on the image, I think. To add the 300' extension they then would have used the beach area to its maximum out to the high water mark.  I believe I understand it now from a non pilot standpoint.  Thanks for sticking with me Marty. 

From a non pilot standpoint I ask this.  If you can't use that 200' of soft and sandy ground then you also can't use the 300 foot extension so why have 500' of unusable runway?  I'm sure on a treed island it would mean the trees were down to make a clear climb out zone. (I apologize to the pilots out there who know the proper terminology). Or that obstructions were cleared.  On this treeless and obstruction free island it seems a waste of that manpower and resources.  Is this unusable space just to satisfy AE that she has had her request for making the runways as long as possible satisfied?  Or something else?

Thanks to all for allowing me to work through this.  Im sure it made entertaining reading.

Its not the math thats hard its how its described in the imperfect language of English. (What is the formula?)   Handy for us to have tools such as satellite imagery through Google earth.  Too bad AE didn't have that luxury.
Respectfully Submitted;

Irv
 
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Erik

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Re: Howland Runways / Kamakaiwi Field / Pics of Howland colonists
« Reply #24 on: December 30, 2011, 08:40:34 AM »

The graphics bring it home - nice work, Marty.  Seeing the chart imposed on the photo really makes it 'real' somehow.  No doubt the terrain was optimized to gain what we see - fascinating layout.

Kudos to Ric and Pat for finding the chart and publishing it in Finding Amelia.

I agree.  Marty, do you have a .kmz to share?  Or was this done in a graphic editor by chance?
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Martin X. Moleski, SJ

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Re: Howland Runways / Kamakaiwi Field / Pics of Howland colonists
« Reply #25 on: December 30, 2011, 10:19:28 AM »

From a non pilot standpoint I ask this.  If you can't use that 200' of soft and sandy ground then you also can't use the 300 foot extension so why have 500' of unusable runway?

The engineers and pilots on the scene apparently saw a different between the forces acting on run way in landing, when the mass of the plane weighs more heavily on the ground because of G forces caused by the rate of descent as compared to the 1 G load (or less) as the plane begins its runout and approaches takeoff speed.

Quote
On this treeless and obstruction free island it seems a waste of that manpower and resources.  Is this unusable space just to satisfy AE that she has had her request for making the runways as long as possible satisfied?  Or something else?

So far as I know, we don't have documentation about the thought process that went into marking landing zones and distinguishing landing length from takeoff length in the final telegram from Cooper on 24 June.  All we can do is to make guesses about what kind of thinking might have been behind the decisions they made at that time. 

In short takeoffs, it is not unusual for pilots to hold the plane still with the brakes and run the engines to full takeoff power.  Every inch helps.  500' of acceleration before reaching the firmest part of the runway may have looked like a good deal to those who decided to add the 300' x 50' strip at the last minute. 

Yes, I'm sure that they were reacting to AE's (or Miller's?) repeated requests to create the longest possible runway on the island.  So, for example, note Campbell's rather acid remark from 10 March, in the middle of the 312-hour marathon: "The north-south runway will never be used because of too much cross wind, however will be ready since they seem to place a great deal of importance on length regardless of wind direction."  He was all alone on the island at that time; when the rest of the ground crew arrived on the 15th and returned in June, they seem to me to have confirmed his preference for the E/W runway and agreed with his assessment that the long N/S runway was not good for takeoff.

It sounds to me--and I admit that I am reading between the lines--that the guys on the island knew that the E/W runway was best for takeoff directly into the prevailing winds.   That was probably the easiest runway to keep clear of birds.  I imagine (without proof) that the reason for flagging off 1000' of the 5200' N/S runway was because the highest concentration of birds was at the north end of the island.  Given limited resources to chase birds, working on the 2750' E/W takeoff strip would have to be easier than clearing 4000' or 5200' on the N/S runway.
LTM,

           Marty
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Martin X. Moleski, SJ

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Re: Howland Runways / Kamakaiwi Field / Pics of Howland colonists
« Reply #26 on: December 30, 2011, 10:21:12 AM »

I agree.  Marty, do you have a .kmz to share?  Or was this done in a graphic editor by chance?

I used Inkscape (free download) and .SVG to compose the picture.  See attached.
LTM,

           Marty
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Gary LaPook

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Re: Howland Runways / Kamakaiwi Field / Pics of Howland colonists
« Reply #27 on: December 30, 2011, 02:48:29 PM »

The portable radiophone had a standard marine frequency of 2670 kcs, it is still a standard marine frequency.

OK.  Earhart could have tuned her receiver to 2670 kcs.  But her transmitter was crystal-controlled for three frequencies: 500 kcs, 3105 kcs, 6210 kcs.  I guess they could have talked to her on 2670 kcs and she could have replied on 3105 or 6210 kcs, presuming that the portable radiophone would be near another receiver or headphone.
I was just commenting on the origin of that frequency. Earhart didn't know about it and it provided no advantage over 3105 kcs and she couldn't transmit on it anyway. It appears that if would be used for communication with Itasca or other ships since it is a standard marine frequency.

gl
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Gary LaPook

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Re: Howland Runways / Kamakaiwi Field / Pics of Howland colonists
« Reply #28 on: December 30, 2011, 02:49:25 PM »

The runway was set out to be 2400 feet. The telegram above says runway now complete. Then says that 200 feet of west end is sandy and soft. Not that "we flagged an additional 200 feet that is sandy and soft".

The telegram that caused you (but not Amelia) so much anxiety dates from 25 June, almost four months later than the first mention of the sandy 200' on the E/W runway.

The telegram that caused you (but not Amelia) so much anxiety is the one that has much shorter distances for all three runways than any previous  messages:

  • N/S: 4200' vs. 5200' in last Campbell message (13 March).  Difference: -1000'.
  • NE/SW: 2600' vs. 3050'.  Difference: -450'.
  • E/W: 2250' vs. 2400'.  Difference: -150'.
I'm morally certain that these are the "Runway distances between markers," marked as available for landing.  For takeoff, more of the runways could be used than could be used for landing. 

For those who have eyes to see, this is what the 25 June Cooper telegram means.  Here, I'll highlight the important phrases:

"All runways at Howland Island in good condition with good approaches as now marked. Wind socks erected at intersection of runways and at west end of east west runway. Runway distances between markers as follows: north south 4200 feet, north east south west 2600 feet, east west 2250 feet. Prevailing wind from the east 15 mph. A 300 foot strip 50 feet wide is being added to west end of the east west runway to increase the total length to 2750 feet for take off."

  • "Good approaches" = "approaches to land the aircraft."  Pilots don't talk about "approaches to a takeoff."  So the markers mark landing zones on the three runways, which are notably shorter than the full length of the runway.
  • "Runway distances between markers" = "the following numbers are about the landing zone, not the takeoff zone."
  • "2750 feet for take off" = "Although we judge that only 2250' of the E/W runway are suitable for landing, with the 300' extension and the previously flagged off 200', that brings the total length of this runway to 2750 feet for take off."
landing zone of 2250' + sandy stretch of 200' + new, narrow strip of 300' = 2750'

The math really isn't that hard.
And you can always land in a shorter distance than you can take off from.

gl
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Gary LaPook

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Re: Howland Runways / Kamakaiwi Field / Pics of Howland colonists
« Reply #29 on: December 30, 2011, 03:10:15 PM »

From a non pilot standpoint I ask this.  If you can't use that 200' of soft and sandy ground then you also can't use the 300 foot extension so why have 500' of unusable runway?

The engineers and pilots on the scene apparently saw a different between the forces acting on run way in landing, when the mass of the plane weighs more heavily on the ground because of G forces caused by the rate of descent as compared to the 1 G load (or less) as the plane begins its runout and approaches takeoff speed.

Quote
On this treeless and obstruction free island it seems a waste of that manpower and resources.  Is this unusable space just to satisfy AE that she has had her request for making the runways as long as possible satisfied?  Or something else?

So far as I know, we don't have documentation about the thought process that went into marking landing zones and distinguishing landing length from takeoff length in the final telegram from Cooper on 24 June.  All we can do is to make guesses about what kind of thinking might have been behind the decisions they made at that time. 

In short takeoffs, it is not unusual for pilots to hold the plane still with the brakes and run the engines to full takeoff power.  Every inch helps.  500' of acceleration before reaching the firmest part of the runway may have looked like a good deal to those who decided to add the 300' x 50' strip at the last minute. 

Yes, I'm sure that they were reacting to AE's (or Miller's?) repeated requests to create the longest possible runway on the island.  So, for example, note Campbell's rather acid remark from 10 March, in the middle of the 312-hour marathon: "The north-south runway will never be used because of too much cross wind, however will be ready since they seem to place a great deal of importance on length regardless of wind direction."  He was all alone on the island at that time; when the rest of the ground crew arrived on the 15th and returned in June, they seem to me to have confirmed his preference for the E/W runway and agreed with his assessment that the long N/S runway was not good for takeoff.

It sounds to me--and I admit that I am reading between the lines--that the guys on the island knew that the E/W runway was best for takeoff directly into the prevailing winds.   That was probably the easiest runway to keep clear of birds.  I imagine (without proof) that the reason for flagging off 1000' of the 5200' N/S runway was because the highest concentration of birds was at the north end of the island.  Given limited resources to chase birds, working on the 2750' E/W takeoff strip would have to be easier than clearing 4000' or 5200' on the N/S runway.
It's fairly common to have displaced thresholds at airports. The following is from the official FAA publication known by everybody as the "AIM." (Prior to these days of political correctness it's title was "Airmen's Information Manual." Hmmm... what ever became of that perfectly good word "aviatrix" as in "Amelia Earhart, world famous aviatrix.")
-----------------------------------------------------
Federal Aviation Administration

Aeronautical Information Manual

 Official Guide to

 Basic Flight Information and ATC
 Procedures


Section 2-3-2

2. Displaced Threshold. A displaced threshold is a threshold located at a point on the runway other than the designated beginning of the runway. Displacement of a threshold reduces the length of runway available for landings. The portion of runway behind a displaced threshold is available for takeoffs in either direction and landings from the opposite direction. A ten feet wide white threshold bar is located across the width of the runway at the displaced threshold. White arrows are located along the centerline in the area between the beginning of the runway and displaced threshold. White arrow heads are located across the width of the runway just prior to the threshold bar, as shown in FIG 2-3-4.

NOTE-
Airport operator. When reporting the relocation or displacement of a threshold, the airport operator should avoid language which confuses the two.

i. Demarcation Bar. A demarcation bar delineates a runway with a displaced threshold from a blast pad, stopway or taxiway that precedes the runway. A demarcation bar is 3 feet (1m) wide and yellow, since it is not located on the runway as shown in FIG 2-3-6.

1. Chevrons. These markings are used to show pavement areas aligned with the runway that are unusable for landing, takeoff, and taxiing. Chevrons are yellow. (See FIG 2-3-7.)

j. Runway Threshold Bar. A threshold bar delineates the beginning of the runway that is available for landing when the threshold has been relocated or displaced. A threshold bar is 10 feet (3m) in width and extends across the width of the runway, as shown in FIG 2-3-4.


-------------------------------------------------

You wouldn't want to land on soft sand because plunking your wheels into the sand might cause the plane to nose over (especially with a tail wheel aircraft like the Electra) due to the momentum of the center of gravity of the plane being high above the point where the wheels are stopped  by the soft sand. But this is not a problem on takeoff where the only thing the soft sand can do is to slow the initial acceleration due to it's higher "mu" (co-efficient of rolling resistance.)

gl
« Last Edit: December 30, 2011, 03:41:52 PM by Gary LaPook »
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