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A heliport is a type of airfield devoted to use by helicopters exclusively. Consisting of many helipads and hangers used to protect the helicopters from the elements, helicopters are able to avoid the confined and typically crowded airspace associated with a common airport. Due to a helicopter's ability to lift off and land without the requirements of a lengthy landing strip, a heliport can be located on a much smaller piece land.
The typical heliport contains several helipads. Helipads are smooth and flat areas devoted to helicopter landing and take offs. The heliport consists of a control tower in most instances, a radio station as well as identification and emergency lighting. The heliport also houses fueling stations and repair facilities for the helicopters that use it.
The heliport is usually located in an area near a conventional airport, but it is typically in a lesser-used area. The relation to the airport is critical for the heliport in order to properly receive and transfer persons and supplies from one type of aircraft to another, such as from an airplane onto a helicopter.
Many heliport locations also include rental car agents as well as private limousine stables to service patrons. Several of the most recent heliport designs also include an upscale restaurant to host couples wishing to utilize a helicopter tour of the particular city in which it is located. Often in larger metropolitan areas, a small jail or lock-up facility is also found on the grounds to house inmates who will be flown to other districts or states.
Many heliports also play host to a number of flight schools and repair colleges. Those wishing to learn to fly a helicopter or to repair one can take courses at these schools. Area colleges also rent space at the heliports at which courses are held concerning the flight, maintenance and operation of helicopters and heliports. Students ere exposed to actual operations at these schools.
Rural heliports often house helicopters used to spray agricultural fields where a standard crop-dusting airplane may not be able to operate. County sheriff's police as well as search and rescue crews may also base helicopters out of one of these locations. Some of the rural locations also have ground crew scheduled around the clock in order to ready a helicopter for flight in the case of an emergency and even have quarters for pilots to relax in while on shift.