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Aviation history: Giant arrows across Kansas

By: Meteorologist Frank Waugh -- Email
By: Meteorologist Frank Waugh -- Email

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WICHITA, Kan. — Long before GPS and radio navigation, pilots relied on their eyes for navigation.

To help early aviators caring the mail in the 1920s and 30s the US Government built a series of light beacons. These beacons were placed every 10 miles and under most of the towers was a giant concrete arrow.

The most famous route stretched from New York City to San Francisco but a lesser know "feeder route crossed the Sunflower State.

The Kansas City-Amarillo Airway guided pilots from Amarillo, Texas to Kansas City, Missouri via Wichita. The beacons along the route were installed in the 1920s and operated into the 1940s before they became obsolete.

Today, 4 concrete arrows along the airway are visible in Kansas and one tower remains. 3 of the 4 beacons are on private property. The only arrow and tower on public property is located at the south end of the Anthony Municipal Airport. While most are visible from roads, the easiest way to see these arrows is on satellite images. Check out the map below for details about the visible arrows in KAKEland.


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