Airplane Noise, Safety At Issue

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Hilda Crawford, a non-flying member of the Payson Airport Advisory Board, wants to change the way pilots fly in and out of Payson Municipal Airport to make the skies above Payson safer and quieter.


The seven-member board will meet at 6 p.m. today (Tuesday) at Town Hall to discuss how planes take off and land at the airport.


Right now, planes approach the airport from the south, she said, flying over most of Payson and nearly all the schools in the Payson School District.


"We are getting more and more traffic all the time," she said, and plane-related emergencies and noise complaints may soon be on the rise.


More than a year ago, an experimental Kit Fox plane had to make an emergency landing on Tyler Parkway in north Payson, said Bob Kellogg, assistant airport manager.


More than two years ago, a Tri Pacer aircraft with engine failure made an emergency landing in a subdivision west of the airport, he said. And a 182 Cessna flipped over during its approach at the airport less than a year ago, Kellogg said. There were no serious injuries in any of the incidents.


Crawford is concerned that the increased traffic will bring an increase in emergencies.


During the meeting tonight, Crawford said she will propose that pilots begin their approach on the north side of the airport, making a right-hand U-turn to line up with the runway.


Flying in from the north, pilots fly over open country where they won't disturb homeowners or put residents at risk during an emergency, she said.


Pilot and former flight instructor John Varljen said the right-hand pattern may be difficult for some pilots to get used to.


"It is not standard," he said. The standard approach to an airport is a left-hand turn to a runway unless otherwise noted. Some of the newer pilots are not as practiced at that maneuver, he said, and may not be comfortable with such an approach.


The Payson airport also is used for pilot training, Crawford said, which has prompted nearby neighbors to complain about the noise.


Hour-long touch and goes, a series of quick landings and takeoffs, are the worst noise offenders, said Crawford.


Crawford, who lives in Payson North, said at times, pilots in training circle over her house every eight minutes while practicing touch and goes.


"If I had a Harley and went by their house every eight minutes, would they call (to complain)," Crawford asked. "I don't push my hobby on them, why are they pushing their hobby on me?"


Payson airport is an uncontrolled airport, which means it has no control tower and no one watching the planes to be sure they land and take off as prescribed.


"So who am I going to call," Crawford asked. "I would suggest a telephone to the town for someone to take complaints and then have somebody follow up (with the pilots)."


Crawford said her proposal is designed to help pilots and residents co-exist more peacefully -- not to prevent planes from landing in Payson.


"I want them to accommodate the pilots and get along with the public," she said. "I want them to be considerate of the people who live in the area."

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