Good Reasons Abound For Moving Flight Pattern


by Hilda Crawford
payson airport board member
In reply to Mr. Farrington's letter in the Oct. 29 edition of the Roundup, I would like to make you and the public aware that I have spent many hours reading and researching current airport material.

At airports without operating control towers, part 91 requires only that pilots approaching land make all turns to the left unless light signals or visual markings indicate the turn should be made to the right.

A memorandum dated July 13, 1999, from Payson Public Works Director LaRon Garrett to Town Manager Rich Underkofler, reads: "Subject: Airport Advisory Board meeting, July 10, 1999, Ken Howard (our current airport manager) requested that the issue of the flight pattern modifications be placed on the agenda as a discussion/possible action item. He is in favor of moving the airport traffic to the north side of the airport as soon as possible." I am assuming as a pilot and airport manager he knew what he was talking about.

In regard to Mr. Farrington's comment about midair collisions, the following statement was in a pamphlet I received from the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association.

"Midair collisions are the primary hazard associated with flying at non-towered airports. Most midair collisions occur in clear weather within five miles of an airport and below 3,000 feet, which is where the aircraft congregate. Most collisions occur on the downwind leg or final approach (the most populated area of Payson)."

You can be assured my conscience will be at rest with a northern approach to the (less) populated side of town. Now, if you would rather have a midair collision over town because you think the current flight pattern over the most populated area of town is OK, then I will lay that on your conscience.

With all the information Mr. Farrington seems to know, I would love to put him in charge of educating the local pilots, whose attitude is, "This is a non-controlled airport and I'll fly as low and as loud as I want to." The majority of our problems are not pilots flying in for a "50-dollar hamburger." It's the local, as well as the transient pilots, who insist on touch-and-goes at a low altitude, the town officials who allow it, and (the fact that) no landing fees are charged.

Airport management has the final say on many pattern parameters. All patterns are made to the left unless otherwise specified. Occasionally a right-hand traffic pattern will be established for terrain clearance or to avoid over-flight of noise-sensitive areas.

Not one time has any pilot, or the airport advisory board, explained to me the reason for not flying the northern route, other than "inexperienced pilots don't know how to fly to the right, they might get confused." My reply is, read the manual and get familiar with our airport before you come to our town.

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