Beacon brings planes over Suffolk
THIS is the beacon that guides aircraft heading over homes across Suffolk.Sitting in the middle of Essex fields a few miles inland from the coast, the “Clacton Beacon” is a key marker for aircraft heading to the south east airports from destinations in northern Europe and the far east.
THIS is the beacon that guides aircraft heading over homes across Suffolk.
Sitting in the middle of Essex fields a few miles inland from the coast, the “Clacton Beacon” is a key marker for aircraft heading to the south east airports from destinations in northern Europe and the far east.
The unmanned beacon is part of a network across the country that sends out constant messages to aircraft, acting as a reference point for flights flying towards Britain.
Flights approaching Britain's southeast airports make for Clacton and then follow a flightpath leading to one of the major airports in the region - Stansted, Luton, Heathrow, Gatwick, or London City.
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The Evening Star has obtained a map from the CAA showing flightpaths over the south east, showing how flights from the Clacton beacon fly in a broad swathe across south Suffolk and north Essex.
Flights to Stansted and Luton head along the Suffolk/Essex border while those to other airports fly further south.
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However there is also a relief flightpath slightly to the north flying over Shingle Street and across Woodbridge and the north west tip of Ipswich before joining the main route to Stansted just to the south west of Sudbury.
The flightpaths last underwent a major change in 1999, which opened up much of the sky above south Suffolk to civil aviation.
It also introduced a controversial “air stack” in the skies above Constable country - a stack which has since been moved to airspace above Claydon and Henley to the north west of Ipswich following protests from the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
But while the flightpaths criss-cross the county, it is the Clacton beacon - actually sited in a field between Thorpe-le-Soken and Little Clacton - which tells pilots that they are heading in the right direction.
To reach the beacon, you have to be fairly dedicated. There is a long walk on public footpaths across fields before you reach it.
Its location is fairly remote, there are no homes nearby - and its presence does impose some planning conditions on the area.
It's unlikely that anyone would want to build large structures near it - but if they did Tendring District Council would have to turn down anything that could interrupt the signal the beacon sends to aircraft.
The beacon has been in place since the early days of civil aviation soon after the second world war, but its significance has been more apparent for people in East Anglia as more planes have been routed past it.