New Martin Airfield identifier a hgih-profile throwback

A group of pilots and volunteers put paint to tarmac in a big way over the weekend at Martin Airfield.



Although the "D" still needs work, the sign painted by the Mid-Columbia Ninety-Nines and their friends Saturday should leave visiting pilots no doubt they have arrived at Martin Airfield. The marker will also be an aid on June 4 when the field will have visiting aviators winging in to help host a "learn to fly" day. (May 21, 2011)


Polina Aksenova loads a paint tray to put the finishing touches on a 20-foot tall "M" that forms the first letter in an aerial sign painted on Martin Airfield's taxiway Saturday. Members of the Ninety-Nines, a national women's pilot group. painted the designation for the airport as a commemorative of the days when pilots still flew by the seat of their pants. (May 21, 2011)

COLLEGE PLACE -- A place where a lot of local aviation history resides now has a high-flying name tag as well.

On Saturday morning, members of the Mid-Columbia Ninety-Nines, an international women pilots association, and volunteers painted a huge "MARTIN AIRFIELD" identifier on the airport's taxiway. The 20-foot-tall letters provide a quick reference to passing pilots, even from several hundred feet up.

The effort was spearheaded by group members Mary Cooke, Marjy Leggett and Donna Hanebut. The sign is a commemoration of the days when pilots literally flew "by the seat of their pants" and had few, if any, navigational aids.

In an effort to help matters, the Civil Aeronautics Administration encouraged the painting of directional or identifying signs on places like barn roofs or in fields to help guide pilots. Spelling out the name of the airfield he was circling over was one way to let aviators know they were at the destination, or at least needed to check a map.

The name will also come in handy on June 4 when visiting aviators descend for a fly-in and "learn to fly" day.

The event will feature a vintage aircraft, a seminar on how to earn a pilot's license and other attractions, including sightseeing glider rides for those willing to pay a $50 fee.

But in regards to aerial identifiers, in case anyone is thinking of making a similar sign, they may want to consider how much space it takes first.

"The whole thing is 191 feet long," Hanebut said Saturday.

Andy Porter can be reached at or 526-8318.

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