July 24, 2017
by David Ryan

Looking for Airway Beacons and Arrows in the Backcountry

In the early days of commercial aviation and air mail service, airplane pilots relied upon light beacons and enormous concrete arrows on the ground to find their way across the country. These navigation aids were built by the Department of Commerce in the 1920s and early 1930s to promote air travel.

Eventually more than 1500 beacons were erected. They were spaced about 10 to 20 miles apart along designated air routes. With a cruising speed of 90 MPH, a pilot of a Ford Tri-Motor airplane would be seeing a beacon or arrow every 6 to 12 minutes. Can you imagine looking for an arrow on the ground to figure out which way to turn?

With the advent of radio navigation and faster airplanes later in the 1930s, the beacon network became obsolete. As a result, the beacons were gradually deactivated and taken down.

Many of the beacon foundations and giant concrete arrows are still out there for you to discover. With over 1500 of them there is a good chance that one is not too far from where you live. Think about how cool it would be to stumble on one the next time you go out on a hike!

The Post Office even issued 5 cent air mail stamp in 1928 of a beacon in the Rocky Mountains.

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July 7, 2017
by David Ryan

A ‘Step Street’ Walk in New York City

New York may not be as hilly as Los Angeles or San Francisco, but it does have hills. And with those hills are several dozen public stairways, scattered throughout the city, to navigate them. In New York they are oftentimes referred to as ‘step streets’. Last week I had the opportunity to explore some of the step streets and stairways at the north end of Manhattan. If you’ve already been to the “must see” sights of New York and want to get away from the crowds of midtown Manhattan, you might get a kick out of exploring some new neighborhoods to the north.

Both the ‘C’ and the ‘1’ subway lines will take you north from Midtown.

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