Airports and heliports are made visible from a distance by the use of beacons,
which provide the pilot with flashes of alternating colors. These colors
indicate the type of airport or heliport associated with the beacon.
- White/Green: Civil land airport
- White/White/Green: Military airport
- White/Yellow: Civil water airport
- Green/Yellow/White: Heliport
Airport beacons are normally activated at night and during periods of instrument
weather conditions. Beacon operation during the daytime at an airport in
class B, C, D, or E airspace is an indication of instrument weather conditions.
Control of Airport Lighting
At many airports, the runways and taxiways are lit continuously from dusk to
dawn. At other airports, pilot controlled lighting allows the airport
lighting to be turned off when it is not in use.
Pilots activate pilot controlled lighting by keying the microphone 3, 5, or 7
times within 5 seconds over a prescribed frequency. The frequency used is
normally the common traffic advisory frequency for the airport. However,
this is not always the case.
Keying the microphone three times sets the lighting to low intensity. Five
clicks sets the lighting to medium, and seven clicks sets the lights to high
intensity. If an airport only has LIRL, then it will not be capable of
being set to medium or high intensity. Three, five, and seven clicks will
still result in low intensity. Similarly, MIRL are only capable of being
set to low or medium intensities.
Pilot controlled airport lighting normally turns off 15 minutes after it is
activated automatically. A normal practice is to key the mike seven times,
in order to activate the airport lighting to the highest available intensity.
This aids in spotting the airport at the greatest distance. As the
aircraft approaches the runway, the lighting intensity is reduced, if desired,
or reset to the same intensity. This ensures the airport lighting will not
automatically turn off when you are on short final or during the landing roll.
At towered airports, make requests for lighting adjustments to the control