If you were a sailor or a pilot you might already be familiar with a compass rose, or as it is sometimes called, a wind rose. There has been a compass rose at the Hollister Municipal Airport for decades thanks to volunteers who show up every few years to repaint it on the tarmac next to runway 31.
This year, about 15 volunteers came April 6 and 7 to remove the weathered and peeling remnants of the paint job done 11 years ago. The group of mostly women, who are or have been pilots or are aviation enthusiasts, showed up with measuring tapes, straight edges, chalk lines, brushes, and plenty of blue and white paint.
The compass rose is a navigation device where pilots park their planes with the nose of the plane pointed at the magnetic north part of the compass. A compass rose must be properly surveyed, constructed, calibrated and certified for use as a compass calibration pad. Since everything from a plane’s electronics to vibration can affect the magnetic direction finder or compass, they have to be calibrated regularly, sometimes before each flight.
“We’re air marking Hollister Airport with their compass rose so pilots can manually adjust their compasses to the correct heading before they take off,” said Michaele Serasio, air marking chairman of the Monterey Bay 99s, which is the southwest section of the International Women Pilots Association (IWPA) or the 99s.
There are a number of reasons a compass may need to be adjusted, according to the Barfield Tech hub, particularly if the accuracy of the compass is suspected. The compass should also be calibrated if there have been any cockpit modifications, it has been subjected to shock from a hard landing or the aircraft has passed through a severe electrical storm.
According to the IWPA, “The Ninety-Nines promotes advancement of aviation through education, scholarships and mutual support while honoring our unique history and sharing our passion for flight.”
Serasio said, ideally, the compass rose is repainted every five years. She said the project should have been completed April 6 but there was a jet parked on it, so they had to wait until the owner moved it before they could begin. They were still at it when BenitoLink returned April 7 to see the finished piece.
“The airport manager gets a survey done to make sure it’s right,” Serasio said. “They pay for the survey and the paint.”
“They pay for lunch, as well,” Ruth Erickson, Hollister Airmen’s Association president, chimed in. Erickson has been involved in painting past compass roses going back to 1982.
“Not every airport has them, but this is a 99s thing,” Serasio said. “We’ve got several chapters of the 99s here, and the Hollister Airmen’s Association.”
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