Pilots typically can control brightness of approach lights

Lights intended to make it safer for pilots to land in low light situations are causing a problem for a local aviator using Hannibal Regional Airport.

During the Sept. 13 meeting of the Hannibal Airport Advisory Board, Greg Baugher, a pilot and airport board member, raised concerns that the strobe lights regularly flash at their brightest setting.

"It can blind a pilot," Baugher said. "You can't see if animals are on the runway or if a vehicle is on the runway."

Baugher said bright strobe lights are important to pilots when searching for a runway in an area filled with ambient light and when attempting to land while clouds are close to the ground.

At non-towered airports, such as Hannibal's, strobe lights are intended to be switched on by a pilot through keying of the airplane's radio microphone a certain number of times. A pilot should also be able to adjust the brightness of the lights. As of last week, pilots landing at Hannibal Regional Airport could neither turn the strobe lights on or off, or control for brightness.

Baugher asked who has had access to the runway light system and could have changed the light settings.

No complaints from other pilots were presented during the meeting.

While it is not known exactly how long the Hannibal airport's strobes have been flashing at their highest setting, Baugher said he mentioned the problem during the airport board's August meeting.

Hannibal Director of Finance Karen Burditt, who regularly attends the airport advisory board's meetings as a city representative, said she had forwarded Baugher's complaint in August to the Hannibal Board of Public Works (HBPW). Burditt said when she heard nothing more from the HBPW, she assumed the matter had been resolved.

Burditt said she would contact the HBPW again about the strobe lights.

danny.henley@courierpost.com