Friday, December 07, 2012

Neosho Mayor Richard Davidson: No EOS in NextGen

December  7, 2012

By Richard Davidson, Mayor of Neosho, Missouri

As the cooler weather arrives for the winter, it’s much more fun (at least to me) to fly in a small plane. Colder (and therefore denser) air means better performance from the airplane – both from the engine and the airframe. It also means cooler temperatures in the cockpit and an overall more enjoyable ride for everyone. I much prefer spring and late fall flying to that of the frigid winters or the hot and humid summers we see in SW Missouri.

To keep current on my instrument flying (meaning I can fly in the clouds), I often fly a number of “practice” instrument landings into Neosho. Today, those landings (or “approaches” as the lingo goes) are done one of two ways – using GPS navigation (the same satellites you use in your car with a Garmin or TomTom) or with land-based navigational aids (ground antennas). The latter in this case is the Neosho VOR located just north of Hwy 60 and about one mile west of Hwy 71. It’s built in and on top of a white building that sits in an open field. In the center is a white smoke-stack looking tower (that’s an antenna) made of fiberglass. If you’ve lived around here very long, I’m sure you’ve seen it!

 From that antenna, navigation signals are sent via radio waves. Those radio waves are interpreted by instruments in the airplane to determine your location and distance from the station. For over 50 years, this VOR (and 3,000 others like it across the world) have been the backbone of “air highways” around the globe. In the continental U.S. alone, there are 967 VOR’s in service – 80 percent of which are past their economic service life. They cost the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) more than $110 million a year to operate. Replacing them would cost over $1 billion.
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