Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Fall Sunset & the Creep Factor

A ride home held this magnificent sunset. No photo manipulation either; this is as good as it gets. And while I was admiring the sky, again I noticed the pointed building, appearing 1950s-big-brother-is-watching-kind-of-spooky like a needle on the horizon. The creep factor is heightened also by its off limits status at the end of a dirt road. I've wondered whether it was once a private airport. It has a commanding view east to the Green Mountains and west across the lake to New York. 

See what I mean? I can only view it this close up by zooming in on the photo. I don't know what's held me back all these years from exploring the structure other than a 15 minute extension to my ride, which is cause for a myriad of excuses: "I'll be late for work" or "gotta' get home to my family." No reason to be afraid. The dust clouds caused by traffic would surely be a sign. So what am I scared of?

On second thought, the building also resembles a mid-western burger drive-in or stone age house—something from The Flintstones, perhaps? My mind cranks through possibilities. How about a diner? Insert chuckle.

Photo credit: Seven Days
So, in the safety of my home's four walls, without roving eyes, I Googled for an answer. Others have been curious, so states an article in Seven Days, a weekly newspaper in Chittenden county. The building is a VORTAC tower. The acronym means Very High Frequency Omnidirectional Range Tactical Air Navigation. In laypersons terms, the U.S. is filled with these air traffic systems. Built in 1958, the Shelburne beacon allows pilots to navigate by instruments and land at the Burlington Airport without using the busy BTV control tower.

So, now I know. That conical/comical structure guides travelers, like me, in for a safe landing.


  1. I've got one of those nearby too. It sits atop a hill in a county park which is a popular mountain biking area, so I used to ride up to it all the time. It's painted like a big bowling pin, so anyone who sees it is naturally going to be curious. But then they put up signs saying the electro-magnetic waves, or whatever it emits, are a health hazard, so I keep my distance now.

  2. Annie- Gorgeous sunset. I was recently thinking how the fall color has been such a gift. The sunset images remind me there is so much to be grateful for.


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