MARSHALL, MI, June 11, 2014 /24-7PressRelease/ -- Marie Zeffer, Michigan Chapter Airmarking Chair for the Ninety-Nines, is proud to announce the completion of an 80-foot compass rose painting project at Brooks Field in Marshall.
The project was a joint effort between the Brooks Field Airport Board, the Experimental Aircraft Association, and the Ninety-Nines, an international organization of female pilots. Volunteers, assisted by the Boy Scouts of America - Troop 337, completed the painting in just under four hours using a traditional 12-point pattern. The compass rose is located on the southwest corner of the apron and are traditionally used at airports to help pilots orient or verify the accuracy of their on board navigational equipment.
"This process has taken over two years to complete but the end product was well worth the wait. It was great to see the mix of local and regional volunteers that made this happen and the Boy Scouts did a great job by providing an authentic Chicago hot dog experience," said Carl Fedders, Director of Public Services for the City of Marshall. "We were appreciative that the volunteers from the Ninety-Nines were willing to help donate their time to help us complete the project."
"Air marking has been the noble ambition of the Ninety-Nines since the early part of the 20th century," said Marie Zeffer. Zeffer, noted that the early president of the Ninety-Nines, Phoebe Omlie, organized the U.S. government sponsored program as part of the Bureau of Air Commerce in 1934 to provide markers on the ground or on rooftops about every 20 miles to aid pilots with navigating to their intended destination. An all-woman staff assisted Omlie with her project and included well-known women pilots as field representatives -- Helen Richey, Blanche Noyes, Nancy Harkness and Louise Thaden.
During World War II, reverse air marking efforts were undertaken by the Ninety-Nines and the Bureau of Air Commerce to black out the previously marked airports and airways to prevent enemy planes from spotting airports for bombing or sabotage.
Although air marking is no longer government sponsored, the Ninety-Nines carry on the tradition of fulfilling the need for air marking by volunteering their time to help paint airport names and radio frequencies, compass rose symbols and other needed identifiers. Some of the letters painted can be 50 feet tall and compass roses average 80 feet in diameter.
"Even in the age of GPS navigation and extremely accurate navigation charts, it's comforting to fly to an airport and see a beautiful compass rose to welcome you and confirm where you are," said David Mead, Airport Board Chairman.
The Ninety-Nines Inc. is an international organization of licensed female pilots, founded in 1929 by Amelia Earhart and 98 more women pilots of the 117 certificated female pilots at the time.
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