Officials in Hastings hope the city will be the latest community in the country to receive a Ninety-Nines Compass Rose.
The Compass Rose is a large, directional piece of navigation used by pilots with both historical and functional significance that would be painted on the tarmac at Hastings Municipal Airport. The unique physical characteristics of the Compass Rose help pilots identify airports from above by providing the familiar visual feature.
Deb Bergmann, manager of the Hastings Municipal Airport, presented background about the history of the Ninety-Nines and the Compass Rose during the Hastings City Council work session on Monday.
The Compass Rose also provides a unique, significant and historical ground feature as pilots traditionally calibrated their compasses according to the orientation of the markings on the ground.
The Ninety-Nines is an international organization of female pilots that promotes advancement of aviation through education, scholarships and mutual support while honoring their unique history and sharing a passion for flight.
The group’s first elected president was Amelia Earhart. She along with others formed the Ninety-Nines in 1929.
Of the 117 licensed women pilots of the day, 99 became charger members of the organization and took the name from their number.
Several Ninety-Nines have ties to Hastings and Nebraska, including Evelyn Sharp who spent part of her childhood in Hastings and was one of the first women to ferry U.S. Army Air Corps fighters during World War II. Another is Betty Clements, who completed her flight training in Hastings and was a member of the Women Airforce Service Pilots.
Bergmann presented about the Compass Rose during the work session because the Nebraska chapter of the Ninety-Nines will meet on Sunday and Hastings’ request is on the board’s agenda.
If selected, Hastings would need to determine placement.
This type of marker isn’t governed by Federal Aviation Administration regulations, as are other markers at the airport.
One possible location is the apron area northeast of the brick hangar.
Bergmann said the Compass Roses are typically 75 to 100 feet in diameter.
It is a volunteer project and as such the organization asks the city to provide the paint.
The Compass Rose is estimated to last three to five years.
Councilman Butch Eley requested funding be budgeted every few years, so the Compass Rose is maintained.
He said if the city is selected to receive a Compass Rose he doesn’t want the image to fall into disrepair similar to the F-4 jet on display at the airport.
Bergmann, who took over leadership of the airport earlier this year, said improving the F-4’s appearance is on her to-do list.
“I’m a veteran; I think it looks shameful,” she said. “I used to work on those.”
Bergmann said placing the Compass Rose near the brick hangar, where it would see less wear and tear than the runway, would help extend its longevity.
“It shouldn’t be a huge maintenance item, but there is some in the budget already,” she said.
There was some discussion among council members about possible groups to take on the volunteer project of painting the Compass Rose, with the Hastings College art department, Mayor’s Youth Council and local chapter of the Experimental Aircraft Association mentioned as options.
Council president Paul Hamelink said he agreed with Eley that the Compass Rose would need to be maintained. The only reservation he has about putting it in writing is that it should be a volunteer project, suggesting the EAA take on the project.
“I don’t want to overreach and create a bureaucracy that’s unnecessary when it could actually be done by a volunteer group of citizens,” Hamelink said.
Hamelink described the council’s response to Bergmann’s proposal for the Compass Rose as “enthusiastic support.”
Councilman Ted Schroeder asked whether the city could draft a letter in support of the project, which City Administrator Dave Ptak said he thought was a good move.
“Just showing that the City Council has shown complete support of this and we’d be very excited,” Schroeder said.
Also during the meeting, Jeff Scanlan and Mark Frantz with the Harry A. Koch Company of Omaha reviewed with council members premium rates and deductibles for the city’s property insurance renewal for fiscal year 2020-2021.