Airmail navigation stations of the 1930’s

I’m gifted with interesting friends.

One lives in my hometown of Odessa (yes, he escaped, and went back of his own volition), and he has an interesting hobby: searching for the remaining Airmail Navigation stations of the ’30’s.

His description:

I think you may have seen one of these before.

This is a station of the 1930 air mail route across Texas. It originally had a 90ft tower attached to the four steel stubs. There was a 36 inch rotation beacon on top. Between the building and the slab for the tower is a foundation for a fuel tank.  The arrow points in the direction of the next beacon. I’ve read they were originally spaced about ten miles apart. This one was as an aux landing field, not too far from Guadalupe peak.

Not being a pilot, I’d not seen these before. I expect there are several still visible from the air, though I’ve only located a few via Google earth.

106 today, … Odd way to spend my time off.

The photo indicates the compact genius of these stations:

Delaware Arrow

Delaware Arrow


I asked him if I could blog this, and while saying yes elaborated on the ‘why’ of this hobby:

I got interested in an odd way. I was looking up stuff on Pam Am 103, and when following a link found that there are stamp collectors who collect letters from crashed airmail planes.  These are salvaged by the PO, and forwarded with a note on the envelope. On a list of such envelopes, I found a Fokker tri-motor crash in the early 1930s near Guadalupe Peak. More link following showed information on the route, beacons, and airfields. Government subsidy of the air mail route used the legal precedent of the Light Houses and buoys provided for marine navigation. Beacons were at ten mile intervals, airfields at 30. Over time I plan to trace more of the route at far as Big Spring (which was apparently the main field for west texas).  Here is the route as traced so far:

google earth arrows

google earth arrows


Very neat.

I wouldn’t have wanted to be that airmail pilot, flying at night looking for the next 10 mile beacon, hoping it’s there…


Thanks to “An Old Friend” for allowing me to post these here.



  1. Beary Potter says:

    Very interesting! I hope his research / search goes well!

  2. Wow! That is really neat and interesting!!