Airfield Art - Centennial Airport (APA) in Englewood, CO

Airfield Art - Centennial Airport (APA) in Englewood, CO
Author: 
Staff
Published in: 
October
2020

The newest painting at Centennial Airport (APA) in Englewood, CO, is far too large for a frame. The compass rose, painted by The Ninety-Nines Organization of Women Pilots, adds a crisp, colorful graphic to the ramp outside the Wings Over the Rockies Air and Space Museum. 

At 40 feet from tip to tip, the new compass rose (completed in July) is actually a half-size decorative version of what the group usually creates. Airport Director Robert Olislagers notes that APA has a full-size piece of The Ninety-Nines’ signature artwork that is certified, so pilots can use it to check the calibration of magnetic aircraft compasses.

That painting, located near Taxiway A, began with a county surveyor marking magnetic headings on the pavement. Then, a cadre of volunteers from the Colorado chapter of The Ninety-Nines chalked in the 12-point compass design, taped off individual sections and rolled on blue and white paint. “Lots of people show up to help, and it’s always a fun day,” notes Airmarking Chair Stephanie Wells, who organizes one or two compass rose projects every summer. 

The tradition dates back to the early 1930s, not long after 99 female pilots originally formed the organization. In those days, members painted town names on the roofs of prominent buildings to help guide pilots who were navigating visually, and typically without radios. They also painted airport names on runways to prevent aircraft from landing at the wrong airfield. 

During World War II, members blacked out about 13,000 relatively new markings to prevent enemy forces from using them to identify bombing targets—and then dutifully repainted the same names and directional cues after the war ended. Later, chapters began painting compass roses with the organization’s logo of interlocking nines in the center. 

In total, APA has three compass roses. Another full-size version, not painted by The Ninety-Nines, is located in an area used for engine run-ups. 

Subcategory: 
Artscapes

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