I live in a small town (Lone Pine, CA) with a tiny airport that sees a couple planes a week at best... busy-ish days when a major fire is happening. Over the past month the airport beacon light has been running all night long, never stops and I have seen one plane land. This never happened in the past. This just started. The lights shines in my window all night and I am trying to understand the reasoning behind it.

I get airports need to have it on when planes are approaching but the question is why all night with no air traffic? Some say its broken and its supposed to be triggered by oncoming aircraft while other says its FAA regulation to have it on dawn till dusk.

  • $\begingroup$ Welcome to Aviation.SE! I edited your question to a format that is generally better received at this website. Feel free to roll back if you disagree. $\endgroup$
    – Sanchises
    Commented Feb 9, 2018 at 20:52
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    $\begingroup$ I know from posts here, that incoming planes can switch ON lights via radio themselves, but you say it is always ON and only a beacon, not the runway itself? $\endgroup$
    – Peter
    Commented Feb 9, 2018 at 21:06
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    $\begingroup$ For what it's worth, the FAA says an average of 24 aircraft movements (i.e. takeoff or landing) happened at that field per day for the 12-month period from June 2016 to June 2017. $\endgroup$
    – reirab
    Commented Feb 9, 2018 at 22:23
  • $\begingroup$ It's an untowered airport. Who would turn on the light when an aircraft approaches? Not all aircraft have a transponder or radio. $\endgroup$
    – Steve Kuo
    Commented Feb 10, 2018 at 16:14

2 Answers 2


The Chart Supplement says "Arpt bcn OTS indef."
("Airport Beacon is Out of Service, indefinitely")

It also says "ACTIVATE MIRL Rwy 16–34 and bcn—CTAF"
("Activate the Medium Intensity Runway Lights(MIRL) for Runway 16/34 and the Becaon, by using the CTAF")

Based on this, it is unclear if the beacon is out of service, or pilot-activated.
But it is clear that it should not be on all night.

A phone number is listed on that page for the airport manager, and I might start there.

After that, consider contacting the local Flight Standards District Office (FSDO).

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    $\begingroup$ you rule!!! thank you! $\endgroup$ Commented Feb 9, 2018 at 21:25
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    $\begingroup$ Please report back on what the various sources say. I'm interested to see how this is resolved. $\endgroup$
    – abelenky
    Commented Feb 9, 2018 at 22:43

The beacon light is on because it can be seen from a considerable distance, and so is used not just by planes landing at that airport (really, it's pretty useless for landing). It's used by planes passing through. For instance, if I were to fly from around Reno to the LA Basin at night, I'd probably see the Lone Pine beacon not long after passing the Mammoth airport. Not only does it show me the way, being able to see it proves that there are no mountain &c between me and it, which is rather a comfort on a dark night :-)

The beacon really should be shielded so that it's not visible/annoying from ground level. Have you talked to the airport staff?


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