August 8, 2023
Patty Kieburtz
Phase One of Airport Beacon Project Completed

Port of Whitman Business Air Center a step closer to new beacon

COLFAX — Phase one of a project to replace a rotating airport beacon at the Port of Whitman Business Air Center (POWBAC) was completed last week. 

The project, which includes the demolition of an existing beacon and installation of a new beacon, will allow pilots to locate the airport from greater distances at night. 

The project began after the Port Commission voted to authorize a construction contract with Colvico, Inc. on April 6 after a March 22 bid opening. The Port and consultant Century West Engineering determined the bid to be appropriate for the planned project.

The Port received a Bipartisan Infrastructure Law grant and an Airport Improvement Program grant from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to fund 90% of the project. A resolution adopted by the Port Commission on May 4 authorized the Port to apply for and accept an airport aid grant for the project through Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT), if awarded.

Phase one of the project included electrical trenching and conduit installation from the airport’s electrical building to the beacon’s location south of the airport. Phase two of the project includes installation of the 25-foot tip-down pole and is anticipated to be completed next summer, as the new beacon pole has an acquisition timeline of up to 9 months. 

The new beacon project comes after the existing airport beacon was determined to be at the end of its design life. The existing beacon is mounted on a hangar, which requires additional machinery, such as a lift truck, to perform maintenance. The new beacon will be attached to a tip-down pole that can be easily raised and lowered by one person, allowing for on-ground maintenance to be performed. 

The new beacon’s light fixture will be LED, which will require less energy to operate and remain durable during its lifetime. The beacon flashes white and green, which signals to pilots the existence of a land airport. Greg Reince, PE, project manager at Century West Engineering, said this beacon is especially crucial in rural areas with limited ground lighting. The rolling hills surrounding the airport solidify the need for a highly visible beacon. 

POWBAC is a general aviation airport and industrial park located 3.5 miles southwest of Colfax. The site features t-hangars, private hangars and Port-owned pole buildings and hosts a variety of tenants and occupants. 

Visit POWBAC on September 23 from 8 a.m. to noon for the annual Colfax Fly-In & Pancake Breakfast, hosted by the Experimental Aircraft Association Chapter 328 and sponsored by the Port of Whitman County. The event provides plane enthusiasts of all ages a variety of activities, including fly-ins by antique, military and airshow aircrafts, as well as airplane rides over the Palouse. The event is accompanied by a $10 pancake, sausage and egg breakfast served by Colfax Rotary Club from 8-10 a.m. 

Visit the Colfax Fly-In Facebook page for event updates.


About the Port of Whitman County: The Port of Whitman County is dedicated to improving the quality of life for all citizens of Whitman County through industrial real estate development, preservation of multi-modal transportation, facilitation of economic development and provision of on-water recreational opportunities.