First To Have State Owned Navigational Facilities

February 1, 1955
-At seven o'clock A.M. C.S.T. on Tuesday, February 1, 1955, the Nebraska Department of Aeronautics inaugurated the operation of the first state-owned and operated navigational facilities in the United States. After seven years of study, preparation and site selection, three Wilcox VOR stations at Alliance, Ainsworth, and Norfolk Nebraska began operation.

In the months that followed, the Nebraska Department of Aeronautics and the Wilcox Electric Company of Kansas City worked out the primary problems in the system to achieve station accuracy, monitoring and signal radiation characteristics in order to meet FCC standards. On July 8, 1955, the Wilcox VOR stations were commissioned for use as VFR radio navigational aids. Several more state owned VOR facilities were soon to follow.

In an effort of fill additional gaps in Nebraska with radio navigational facilities, the Department of Aeronautics established a program to install state-owned low frequency, non-directional Homers or "H" facilities at a number of locations. The first state owned "H" facilities in Nebraska were located at Chadron and Imperial and commissioned for VFR navigation in January and February of 1959 respectively.

VOR Photo
A typical VOR (Very High Frequency Omnidirectional Range) Facility. The VOR provides pilots with directional information and is one of the primary navigational tools available.

Aviation Firsts Logo

First Night Airmail Service

February 22, 1921-The first night air mail flight originated in Nebraska at the North Platte Airport. The flight went on to Omaha and eventually to Chicago. Subsidized by the post office, the pilot took off on February 22, 1921. Predictably, he was late and the weather was poor, so those waiting for him downline assumed the weather was too bad to fly and they went home. The pilot reached Omaha, refueled and continued on to Chicago without a relief pilot.

First Electrically Lit Airfield

February 1923-Nebraska's North Platte airport was the first lighted airfield using electric lights instead of bonfires.