Readers get bird’s-eye view of mystery Battle Ground building

By Adam Littman, Columbian Staff Writer



Clark County’s most exclusive nightclub is known only to those who get high.

Super high.

When we opened up our Clark Asks feature to readers, Susan Strizver, 49, of Battle Ground asked about a round white building in a field just south of Northeast 179th Street in Battle Ground that was listed on Google as a nightclub.

It turns out, quite a few people were curious about the Battle Ground nightclub. Forty-two percent of readers picked that as our next question to tackle in our latest voting round.

Strizver wasn’t the only person to send in the question. Unbeknownst to Strizver, her husband, Chris Strizver, 45, also sent in the question, although his was worded a bit more directly: “What the heck is (the structure visible in) this Google map?” he wrote with a helpful link to the building in a map. We went with Susan Strizver’s, and our investigation revealed the answer to the question on 42 percent of readers’ minds.

Sorry to all you wild and crazy guys out there. The round white building in a field in Battle Ground is not a nightclub.

It is — drum roll, please — a navigational aid for pilots.

The building is known as the Battle Ground Very High Frequency Omni-directional Range (VOR).

“A VOR or VORTAC is a ground-based legacy electronic navigation aid transmitting very high frequency navigation signals, 360-degree azimuth, oriented from magnetic north,” Allen Kenitzer, regional public affairs manager for the Northwest Mountain & Alaska Region of the Federal Aviation Administration, wrote in an email. “It is used as the basis for navigation in the National Airspace System. The VOR periodically identifies itself by Morse Code and may have an additional voice identification feature.”

Kenitzer said some of those stations have been decommissioned in recent years and replaced with satellite navigation. The Battle Ground VOR station was commissioned in 1952, he said, adding that, due to mountainous areas in Western Service Area, many VOR stations in the area, including Battle Ground’s, are expected to remain operational.

Pilot Adam Moore, 33, of Vancouver said when pilots plan out a flight, the planning is done point-to-point predicated on the stations.

“It’s the heart and center of the National Airspace System,” said Moore, who has been flying for 10 years.

Moore said the station supplies distance information using radio waves to let the pilot know what direction to fly to get to the station and how far away it is. The higher up the pilot, the farther away the plane’s equipment can pick up information from the station.

While most stations look like large bowling pins, Moore added, the Battle Ground station, the only in Clark County, looks more like a castle.

The Strizvers recently got an up-close display of how the VOR station works, as they went up for a flight with Moore and Columbian photographer Alisha Jucevic on Wednesday.

“It didn’t look like a nightclub from up there,” Chris Strizver said. “It’d be a cool place for a nightclub, but it probably wouldn’t do so well in North Clark County.”

The two moved to Battle Ground nearly 16 years ago, and have wondered what the building was ever since. Chris Strizver thought it might be a field where people launched hot air balloons, because he used to see a lot of hot air balloons in the area. Susan Strizver thought it was something agricultural, maybe something to do with bees.

Neither really thought it was a nightclub. On Google Maps, users can fill out information about businesses, and at some point, someone listed the station as a nightclub. A representative from Google wouldn’t say when the station was listed as a nightclub or who was looking to bring the party to Battle Ground. The listing was changed to say the location is a “radio broadcaster” since we started reporting on this story.

The Strizvers had a great time on their flight, partially because they got a new view of the white, round building that has puzzled them for a decade and a half and partially because they didn’t get sick while flying. While flying over the VOR station, they could see their street, although their house was blocked by some trees.

“I’m satisfied,” Susan Strizver said. “This question that has been bugging us so long has finally been answered.”