Flight Patterns Are Safest For All Involved



Re: Letter writer Jeanne Dell's letter (Jan. 14): She needs to invest in eight hours of dual flight instruction.

Frequent letters to the editor regarding the Payson Airport keep demanding that the flight pattern of aircraft landing/taking off be changed for safety reasons. For as far back as I can remember, the present left-hand traffic pattern at uncontrolled airports (excluding the recent attempt to change in Payson) is the safest for both residents on the ground and the pilot. Right-hand patterns are accepted if there are major obstructions present to hinder a left-hand pattern.

Aircraft are one of the most inspected and safest means of transportation available. Pilots are well trained and must take flight and regulation checks at least every two years.

The pilot in command (or student) of an aircraft almost always sits in the left-hand seat of the aircraft. He/she has an obstructed view out of the right-hand window. Landing is a critical time of flight. Being able to see the runway and spotting other aircraft is essential.

When discussing this with another airport critic, I was told that aircraft can be "tilted". (i.e., dropping the right wing to see out the window.) Doing this, two things happen to the aircraft -- it begins to turn to the right and it begins to slip downward due to an uncoordinated turn. It is a dangerous maneuver at low altitude, especially if the pilot attempts to pull the nose of the aircraft up during the slip. This can cause a stall/spin condition, and, at low altitude, could be impossible to recover from. An aircraft that will stall (lose lift) from level wing flight at 50 mph will stall at about 60 mph in a 45-degree bank.

A coordinated turn occurs through proper use of the rudder and the ailerons.

Changing to a right-hand pattern will not change noise or safety on the final approach to the Payson Airport. They will still come in over The Vistas or Alpine Heights housing.

The Payson Airport is vital to the Town. It will not close, and it will not move for many years.

Who owns the airport? I think the U.S. Forest Service still has their finger on it.

Dave Engleman, Payson

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