Question about airfield lights

Airfields often have a flashing light that can be seen from a distance of several miles. What is this light called? And is there a standard placement of this light? It often seems to be some way off the runways.

It’s usually called and airport beacon or aerodrome beacon (usually “rotating beacon”) and it’s meant to identify the location of the airport. Here’s a list to the FAA’s AIM chapter on them (they call them Aeronautical Light Beacons, as they are sometimes used to denote things other than airports):

Air Navigation and Obstruction Lighting (

This article gets into some of the color meanings, though at least in the US, you’ll mostly just see white/green rotating beacons: Aerodrome Lighting | SKYbrary Aviation Safety


Thanks, that’s really helpful. I guess these beacons are only present for airports that provide commercial services, so that small airfields that are just used for VFR wouldn’t have one.

Bush strips, probably not, but small GA municipal airports should have them, at least in the US.

Now, whether the sim has them for all airports that should have them…

In the US, there are (roughly):

  • 3601/5196 public-use airports with beacons (69%)
  • 955/14722 private airports with beacons (including military and heliports) (6%)

Of all that, only 384 airports have at least one scheduled commercial flight per day.

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Fun fact: If you pay attention when flying across the North American prairies IRL at night in an airliner (e.g. you actually look out the window and not just at the boring movie or bad food), you’ll see them all over the place.

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