After reading the various letters to this newspaper over the past few months regarding flight patterns over our town, some of which seem unnecessarily vitriolic, I am compelled to add my two cents.
Having conducted some research of my own, I have found that a rapidly growing number of residents agree that concern for safety and noise are legitimate issues. Unfortunately, some flight-pattern critics are proposing a solution that is unacceptable to pilots, to wit: Fly in only from the north side of town.
While I tend to agree that the north-side-only solution is untenable given the number of safety issues it would present for pilots, the polarization that seems to be taking place over the north side versus south side debate is obscuring what should be the real focus of concern.
The real issue raised by this controversy is whether our town officials will demonstrate the responsibility to establish concrete, enforceable measures to control rogue pilots, most of whom are obviously not from Payson and have very little regard for Payson residents, who are either failing to comply with the town's proposed flight patterns, or FAA flight requirements, or both.
At present, our airport is uncontrolled. There is very little any resident can do to prevent a rogue pilot from flying too low over homes or failing to comply with designated flight patterns. Airport officials who falsely advise complaining residents that they are the only ones complaining, or that nothing can be done, are not helping matters. Nor is it helpful that airport officials currently refuse to assist residents in identifying these rogue pilots so they may be reported to the appropriate authority.
Clearly, the current benefits to our town from outside pilots, if any, are greatly outweighed by the concerns of our citizenry for safety and noise pollution. Moreover, it is unfortunate and misleading to attempt to label those who raise such concerns as "airport opponents."
Now that the airport board has firmly established acceptable flight patterns, it is time for our town officials to enact some concrete measures that will bring home the town's policy to outside pilots.
More importantly, however, any such policy is purely a fiction if there is no mechanism in place for its enforcement. At present, there is none. Pilots who violate FAA regulations and/or town policy regarding flight patterns currently do so without fear of any consequences for their conduct.
I firmly believe that the Payson Airport Board was acting in earnest in establishing a policy that takes into account the safety of pilots as well as residents. However, a policy without teeth is no policy at all.
It is time for town officials to take action to put some control over our currently uncontrolled airport so that the recently adopted flight patterns will be enforced. This is especially true since realtors will soon be required to disclose actual flight patterns over homes, potentially reducing property values throughout the entire town.