Runways and Taxiways

The runway system at Watts Bridge still uses the original runways that were constructed in 1943. During the middle of 2000, the parallel runway and the airfield permiter road system were constructed. The photo shows the newly constructed runway and road system as at 3rd August 2000. By the end of 2012, the parallel runway was no longer being maintained and was no longer in an operational state. Like much about the airfield, the priorities of management committees change, the management committees for the first 20 years since the airfield was reactivated placed great importance on the runway and taxiway system and its necessity as an attraction to potential airfield users. By 2012, the management of that day seemed more concerned with the development of supporting facilities for the air chalet and the clubhouse area. These supporting facilities are excellent developments in their own right and the author hopes that the focus will swing back to the runway/taxiway system in the not too distant future.

 

Photo above: End of runway 30 looking back at the private hangar precinct/clubhouse precinct.

Photo above: Runway 12/30 looking east from the 12 end (2010)

Photo above: Intersection of runways 12 and 22 (2010)

Aircraft Parking Areas

A positive feature of Watts Bridge Memorial Airfield is its large well maintained aircraft parking areas. It's no accident that these are the size that they are.It was a design criteria going right back to the initial design meetings in the 1980's that the airfield should have aircraft parking areas that were sufficient to cater for very large fly-ins.The parking areas are natural grassed surfaces.

he photo below shows part of the aircraft parking area on the southern side of runway 12/30 and out the front of the clubhouse area.

Wet Weather

The 12/30 runway itself is pretty much all weather, however the taxiways and aircraft parking areas are definately not. During the 1990's the airfield received the normal rainfall for the area and the management and users of the airfield were well accustomed to soft surfaces about the airfield, many a time cars were bogged using the unformed tracks that constituted the road system. Likewise airfield maintenance equipment oftem becomed bogged in sertain parts of the airfield whilst performing tasks like slashing the grass

During the period 2000 - 2010, the area experienced a period of prolonged drought and over time the airfield managerent and users forgot the lessons that had been learnt during the earlier period.of much weather. In particular the importance of keeping the taxiways on both sides of the runways slashed.

In the first two weeks of October 2010, the airfield received the heavest rain in ten years. The airfield became water logged, the main runway 12/30 was servicable but the taxiway was extremely soft.

As can be seen in the photo above even after a period of no rain, water was lying on the runway surface unable to penetrate and only evaporating slowly and then being replaced in the next period of heavy rain. The result was that the airfield was closed for about two weeks, something that hadn't happened in the past.

It was decided to extend the gravel from taxiway 2 across the 12/30 taxiway out to the runway so that the Air Chalet precinct had better wet weather access.


The first attempt to carry out the gravelling work wasn't a success. The soil saturated with water when covered with a layer of gravell didn't have any sound foundations and wobbled as you worked over it.

2011

The runway/taxiway system at Watts Bridge Memorial Airfield normally is maintained to a very high standard, however during late 2010 the committee running the airfield took the decision to reduce the amount of mowing of the taxiways and this together with the increased rainfall this led to a poor state of maintenance of the system. The photo below shot in late October 2011 is an example of that state and shows the length of the grass on the crosswind runway/taxiway

The crosswind runway 03/21 has always suffered with a less than effective drainage system. As a result the taxiway on the south east side became soft after periods of rain. During WW2 a drain had been constructed across the runway to drain the far side (the north west side) and at the near end, the spoon drain fromm it had slited up.

Not all the news about runway/taxiway maintenance was bad in 2011 and in October 2011 the decision was made to attempt to fix the drainage problem with the crosswind runays by rebuilding the spoon drain.. This involved significiant earthworks. Member Peter Freeman can be seen in the background overseeing the work of re-establishing the spoon drain from the end of the existing WW2 installed pipe drain.

In the immediate foreground of the image above can be seen the end of the existing WW2 drainage pipe that carries the runoff from the far side of the cross wind runway.The spoon drain visible in the image extends to the road. 2 300mm pipes will be laid below the road to carry the water to the existing spood drain on the far side.will be installed under the road and then the former WW2 spoon drain will be reinstated to waqste the water across the Association's land.

Photo below shows the stockpile of pipes ready for installation under the road.

In the photo below the location the crossing of the 03/21 runway by the underground pipe drain installed when the runway was formed in WW2 has been darkened to easy identification. At the top of the photo the freshly reformed spoon drain is just visible. The grain is midway in the pipe and its purpose is to drain the very shallow wide spoon drain that runs along the western enge of the runway.

The photo below shows the end of the underground pipe drain , in the mid distance can be seen the red and white cone marker that marks the location of the drain grate in the photo above.

The two photos immediately below show the western side of the crosswind runway. Clearly visible isthe diffentation in vegetation pannern between the overgrown taxiway (hasn't been mown for years) and the clearway at the edge of the that taxiway.

In the photo below shot late in the afternoon, a shadow clearly shows the remains of the spoon drain running parallel to the western side of the crosswind runway. It is offset by 42 metres from the western edge of the runway.

On the eastern side of the crosswind runway the drains are less obvious but neverless do exist. There is some speculation about how these came into existance - were they wide spoon drains or where they shallow gravel pits. Neverless they do run along the eastern side of the crosswind runway and they do function as drains of a sort. In the image below the spoon drain lies between the black lines.