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Welcome to the Airport

Welcome to the Airport

Flights normally begin and end at the airport, which means it can become a busy place. Airports are often a lot of fun, with people from different states and countries crossing paths as they fly.



Most importantly, airports have runways. In fact, the first airports were almost nothing else besides areas of pavement where airplanes could takeoff and land. Today, some runways are over 3 miles long just to accommodate large airplanes. Runways are numbered 1 through 36 according to their magnetic course, so that pilots can expect which direction they will land based on the runway number. Runway, 25 at Auburn Airport, for example, faces roughly 250 degrees magnetic.

Active Runways are the runways in use at an airport with a control tower. The controller uses traffic flow and weather to determine which runways to make active. At a non-towered airport like Auburn, the runways are never “active”, but pilots can always use them. Pilots still use a similar technique though, considering weather and traffic flow to determine which runway to use.

Other Services

Airports have many different services, depending on the purpose of the airport. A small general aviation airport like Auburn has the following:

Fuel: Pilots can buy fuel for piston airplanes and jets. Often times, the pumps are self-serve, meaning that the pilots pay at a machine and pump their own fuel. Larger airports often have fuel trucks that come meet the airplane to pay for fuel.

Tie-Downs: Tie-downs are parking spaces that pilots can rent. Sometimes pilots are just passing through and need a tie-down for the night. Other times, an airplane owner may rent a tie-down long term to park an airplane if he doesn’t want to rent a hangar.

Hangar: A hangar is a garage for airplanes. Some can get really really big! In fact, one of the largest buildings in the world is a Boeing hangar. But at Auburn, most hangars are just a little bit bigger than garages, but a few can fit four or five airplanes!

Flight Schools: Flight training has been a major service at airports for almost a hundred years. Most pilots first learn to fly at small airports like Auburn.

Fixed Base Operator (FBO): An FBO is a company that combines many different services into one. Mach 5 is an FBO that provides flight training, airplane rental, airplane sales, and maintenance. Other FBOs might rent hangars or sell fuel.