Compass returns to Albert Lea Airport

(ABC 6 News) – Before we had these fancy GPS in our phones cars and airplanes. Pilots used a compass to find their way in the sky.

Pilots would park their planes on the compass painted on the ground to calibrate their compass inside the aircraft before takeoff to ensure a safe and well-navigated flight.

“Well today you got GPS and ground-based navigation, but on the other hand, it still comes down to. If you know the compass and the course, you made very well and you know how long you’ve been up there. You can estimate your eta to your destination. So even today all pilots are taught that navigation that’s the basis for all navigation,” said Jim Hanson the Albert Lea Municipal Airport manager.

Hanson says that the old compass was lost when the runway was resurfaced a few years ago and they wanted to bring back the relic to the small-town airport. The group of the 99’s came down and helped repaint the compass. The 99’s we a group of 99 female pilots back in 1929. they formed the group to help encourage females in aviation.

“You know I always tell people. It makes a big difference you know I f men were doing this they would come back over here and blow right through it. In this case it was a bunch of ladies that comeback over here and they enjoy each other. But they would go back and say hey Harriet would you give me a hand with this over here or how do you think we should do this. So, it’s a collaborative effort that makes all the difference in the world and we really enjoyed it,” said Hanson.

It took the ladies a whole day to get the compass done using about 26 gallons of paint.

Now the public isn’t allowed on the runway but if you have a plane, you’re encouraged to come use it before takeoff or even see it from the air.