The Fives: Cool Airport Structures

Today, we’re beginning an occasional photo series here on RDU Cruising Altitude called The Fives.  Every few weeks, we’ll show you a series of five things or places that can be found at RDU if you know where to look, or perhaps, have the right credentialing to reach.  This week, we’ll start with five cool structures at RDU.  Special thanks to RDU Operations Officer Keenan Ormond for helping me reach these places.

_DSC0606Remote Transmitter/Receiver Site.   At first glance, this cluster of rather imposing antennae surrounding a small shack looks like they may be helpful in the search for life elsewhere. But, rest assured, they do have a rather worldly purpose.  This is part of a communications system that aids in pilot-to-tower radio traffic.

_DSC0615Localizer. You may think that this structure is one big observation platform. If that were the case, you’d almost be able to reach out and touch planes as they landed.  Thankfully, this big structure is part of the Instrument Landing System and it helps pilots determine if they are lined up correctly to land in inclement weather.

_DSC0636Light Lane. Located near Park & Ride 4, this row of towers isn’t a backup broadcast location for area radio stations.  This area, nicknamed the light lane, is home to high intensity approach lights which help guide pilots into perfect alignment when preparing to land.

_DSC0603Runway 18-36.  Speaking of runways, we hope your pilot never says they’re preparing to land on RDU’s Runway 18-36 as there would certainly be a problem. This vast expanse of deteriorated concrete is all that remains of the airport’s first runway back in RDU’s earliest days.

_DSC0602VORTAC. RDU’s coolest looking structure also has a pretty impressive name. Known  as the “Bowling Pin” this is part of a worldwide series of ground beacons that allow aircraft to hone in on fixed positions on the ground to ensure they stay on course. While GPS has largely taken over that role, these remain as a back-up.

What would you like to see in future editions of The Fives?  Let me know in the comments below.

About Andrew Sawyer

Andrew Sawyer is the External Communication Specialist for the Raleigh-Durham Airport Authority and is the main writer for RDU’s website, electronic communication and airport publications. He’s also the primary face behind RDU’s social media channels. Andrew also assists with many other things, from media relations to event planning. In fact, he has an advanced degree in "other duties as assigned."
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6 Responses to The Fives: Cool Airport Structures

  1. Phil Brooks says:

    Thanks for calling attention to the RDU VORTAC! As an airline flight dispatcher, I can say that these are still very much in use. But yes, the current several thousand VORs in the U.S. is planned to be reduced to a few hundred, as a backup to GPS. There is a VOR trivia page on the website of the Airline DIspatchers Federation- – that might be of interest.

  2. Katie says:

    I want to know about runway 14-32 and get an idea of how often it’s used. Is is long enough to accommodate all the aircraft types that use RDU?

  3. Richard Snow says:

    Can you tell us who owns the large hangar at the north end of 5L?

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