by Melanie, Golden Triangle Chapter 99s

When you are overflying an airport, you often see the airport name painted on the taxiway, sometimes accompanied by a compass rose. Those letters and roses are painted by hand and the painting process is called airmarking. One accomplishment we are particularly proud of is the fact that volunteer 99s have airmarked hundreds of airports across the United States. For more info on airmarking, see the 99s International website.

I had my first experience doing airmarking at Hicks in Ft. Worth, TX on Saturday with the Golden Triangle 99’s and a few other volunteers.

It had rained a bit the night before, so we had some puddles to clean up before we could start, so, armed with paper towels, and later a leaf blower, we got rid of that water (oh, so slowly, it seemed).

Then the hard part started – the exacting work of chalking out the pattern. After Alicia’s 2 GPS’s failed to perform, Tony Hodge of Split S FBO came to our rescue. He had a military compass for exact pinpointing of the North
latitude, and once that was laid, the rest of the points were laid out, re-laid out, and re-laid out again, to be ever so exacting and correct (SE, NE, SSW, NNE, etc).

That took the most time, but once all were satisfied that our chalk pattern was precise, the tedious taping began. Again, we had to be oh so precise on those lines, and on an uneven macadam surface, this was no easy task.

Airmarking - painting the compass rose

Once we were ready to paint, the white paint rolled on easily, but we were surprised by the challenges the thin blue paint presented – it just didn’t want to cover that black asphalt very well. Over and over again we painted, and finally, the blue paint thickened up. Rain was threatening, but we would not be deterred. We were adamant about keeping the rain Gods at bay, and we succeeded 🙂

After a much deserved free lunch (having fended off the airplanes and cars threatening to destroy our work, only to have a helicopter wreak havoc on us temporarily), and a brief meeting to elect the future officers, it was back to work (one of the 99’s from another chapter was amazed at our efficient meeting :-).

We toiled and carefully removed the tape, with only a few slight baubles to be corrected, but it looked GREAT!!!


For as tired as we were, and knowing the pain our bodies would suffer afterwards (for days), we couldn’t help but feel proud of our new creation! What a wonderful feeling of accomplishment, knowing you’ve contributing to making something that will stand the test of time! That Compass Rose was beautiful, and we were all happy to have made the effort to create it!

For all the work it was, I will be happy to do it again and again, as I’ve never felt such a great feeling looking at it afterward. All I wanted to do was hop into a plane and see it from above (unfortunately, that didn’t happen).

Hopefully, I’ll see it from the “plane’s view” before it gets too worn out!

I can’t tell you what a worthwhile effort this is, for the sense of accomplishment and pride it leaves behind in all of us who worked on it.

And, what fun it was sitting around one of the participant’s hangar afterward, having a beer and hangar flying with the ladies!

Here’s what Melanie has to say about herself:
I am a proud member of the Golden Triangle chapter in TX. I obtained my private pilot certificate in Apr 2000, and am a tailwheel fanatic. I have a clipped wing J3 Cub and hope to get aerobatics training as well as my instrument, commercial, and CFI ratings. I would like to specialize in tailwheel training. I currently work for American Airlines in Group and Meeting Travel, am married to an airline pilot, and live on a residential airpark.

This story was first published on the Ninety Nines list serv. Reprinted with permission from the author.