La PORTE — Red and white lights indicate slope. Green lights show direction. Blue lights are for taxi lanes. And all together they help the La Porte Municipal Airport light up like an arcade game at night.
Part of a roughly $600,000 project (with 90 percent underwritten by the Federal Aviation Administration) the airport this summer added lights to its secondary runway and taxi lanes so pilots navigating the city’s skies during adverse weather have better options for landing in La Porte.
“Prior to this summer the only lighting at the airport concerned the primary runway,” said Edward Volk, president of the La Porte Municipal Airport Authority.
Now the secondary runway, which runs from southeast and northwest, is also fully lit, so pilots can avail themselves of it in case crosswinds make landing on the main runway dangerous. Volk pointed out that fewer options can make pilots rethink their use of La Porte.
“And if they bypass the airport and go somewhere else that’s not good for the city,” he said. “The airport is just another piece of the infrastructure of the city, just like good roads and schools and all the other parts. You’ve got to have a good airport (to attract people and businesses).”
He said the airport’s share in the project was only about $40,000, which he noted was a pretty good return on investment.
For local pilot G. Thor Thordarson, who is also the president and CEO of IU Health La Porte Hospital, the second lighted runway makes it a lot nicer for people like him.
“Before you were basically stuck with one runway,” he said, “so if there were crosswinds it made it more challenging. So having the extra option really helps.”
He pointed out that the red lights on the runway can show pilots if they’re too high, while the white lights can show if they’re too low in their descent. Green lights are visible to pilots when they come in at certain directions, while the blue lights show them where the taxi lanes are.
“So they help you see where you are, like the guardrails on a highway,” he explained.