Several years ago, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) mandated air shows establish and brief corner markers to ensure aircraft on photo passes have a visual reference to insure spectator/aircraft separation.
According to Volume 3, Chapter 6 of 8900.1, corner markers are “An easily identifiable marker or landmark from the air, 500 feet or more right and left of primary spectator area along the crowd line from the primary spectator area to provide flybys and performers a 500‑foot reference for proper separation from spectators.” These corner markers must also be included in the field layout plan of an air show as per 3-144 C(7)b. Finally, 8900.1 states: “Corner markers must be highly visible landmarks or contrasting markers easily visible from 200 feet AGL at 200 KIAS that identify the crowd line 500 foot lateral separation (corner) points left and right of the primary spectator area.”
According to industry experts, the following basic rules of thumb are generally applicable:
- Every air show that has a military team or single ship demonstration, or where arcing passes are expected, must have corner markers.
- The corner markers are on the extended spectator line NOT the 500’ show line.
- Landmarks (runway or taxiway intersections, empty buildings etc.) make the best corner markers.
- Artificial corner markers must be highly visible with a very distinct contrast to the background.
- In addition to being highly contrasting corner markers need a vertical component of about four feet to aid in being seen.
- Rule of thumb is corner markers must be able to be easily seen from 2 miles at 200 knots at 200’.
- The corner markers must be annotated on the field diagram submitted with the waiver request.
- Corner markers must be secured against weather phenomenon.
- Corner markers must be in position for the Friday rehearsal day.
- Corner markers should be perpendicular to the expected line of the arcing pass eg broadside to the inbound aircraft.
The following may be considered EFFECTIVE corner markers: Runway intersections, taxiway intersections, unoccupied buildings, buses, dump trucks, snow removal equipment, semi-trailers (also a potential source of advertising), brightly colored tarps draped over a golf cart.
The following may be considered INEFFECTIVE corner markers: Camouflaged vehicles, small equipment pieces, spray painted markings on grass or concrete, green or blue tarps, snow fencing laid in grass, flatbed trailers, infield towers or antennas.