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Earth Transportation Science

Magnetic Pole Shift Affects Tampa Airport 317

RFSSystems writes "I thought this was an amazing and rather rare phenomenon and wanted to share. 'The airport has closed its primary runway until Jan. 13 to repaint the numeric designators at each end and change taxiway signage to account for the shift in location of the Earth's magnetic north pole.' It appears that the shifting poles have begun to affect air travel in a somewhat modest way. Could this also be the explanation for the falling/dead birds this week?" I hope the gradualists are right, but scenarios for rapid magnetic pole shift are fun to think about.
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Magnetic Pole Shift Affects Tampa Airport

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  • Re:Not rare at all (Score:5, Interesting)

    by trollertron3000 ( 1940942 ) on Thursday January 06, 2011 @05:31PM (#34783074)

    I'm a private pilot here in Tampa and I can actually see the runways from my parking garage here south of TIA (actually KTPA). They teach you this during your private pilot's course so it's known to all pilots that deviations occur and poles shift. Magnetic deviation is accounted for in your training and you use other tools to compensate.

    In fact when I fly along I'll use a chart of known magnetic deviations in the area I am flying to find true north. I also have two instruments I can use - a heading indicator and an actual magnetic compass. We set the heading indicator, a gyroscopic-based instrument, using the compass while flying straight or on the ground. This will need to be adjusted as we fly along typically, it "creeps". We use the heading indicator over a magnetic compass because trying to fly accurately with a compass is like trying to balance a unicycle. it's not easy and you chase the dial. We also use GPS but the ultimate navigation instrument for a VFR pilot like myself is a set of eyeballs, we use dead reckoning using navigation landmarks noted on charts or known to us.

    The pilots flying into KTPA will most likely be commercial pilots flying an instrument landing approach. This will not effect them much at all but the runway needed to be shut down so it could be repainted and fit into the FAA regulations. It's as simple as that.

    Not sure why I added all that. Probably because no one else did.

  • by element-o.p. ( 939033 ) on Thursday January 06, 2011 @05:40PM (#34783212) Homepage
    I learned to fly at Elmendorf AFB, in Anchorage, Alaska back in the early '90s. When I first started flying at the Elmendorf Aero Club, the main runway was runway 05. A few years later, it was redesignated runway 06. Merrill Field, a civilian airport just a couple of miles away, also had to change the primary designation from 06 to 07 at about the same time.

    The magnetic poles shift with time, eventually by a significant factor. Since runways are designated by magnetic heading (for example, Elmendorf's runway 06 means the runway is pointed roughly to 60 degrees, and Anchorage International Airport's runway 14 is pointed roughly to 140 degrees), every so often airport management has to redesignate the runways to match the approximate magnetic heading with which the runways are aligned. It's no big deal, and has been happening for as long as there have been runways. All of the speculation at the end of TFS about "...shifting poles finally starting to affect air travel..." and "falling birds" is alarmist nonsense.
  • Re:I wonder (Score:5, Interesting)

    by icebike ( 68054 ) on Thursday January 06, 2011 @05:43PM (#34783256)

    Sorry. But that is nonsense.

    There are rednecks and fireworks everywhere in the USA on new years eve. Yet the massive bird death was strictly local.

    The noise excuse is simply silly. It is not possible to create enough noise with a few big fireworks (or full sticks of dynamite) to kill bird over a 4 square mile area.

    Can't be done, and if it could every city an town in the US would be littered with birds.

    The most rational explanation is a large flock of birds, from somewhere possibly quite distant, were sucked aloft by a small un-noticed rural tornado or violent updraft and simply froze to death, and thawed upon landing.

    Occam's razor applies to acts of nature.

  • True North (Score:4, Interesting)

    by dogsbreath ( 730413 ) on Thursday January 06, 2011 @06:40PM (#34784010)

    I'm Canadian you insensitve clod. We use True North (coincidentally Strong and Free) for runway designations and thus are immune to drifting runway numbers. Let's hope desperately that the Earth's spin axis doesn't start moving!

    Strangely... as the years go by, I AM feeling a growing desire to learn the Cyrillic alphabet.

1 Mole = 007 Secret Agents