By Dave Sclair
Over all the years that we’ve been tracking residential airparks, one aspect about them is the excellent record of safety: safety between airplanes and people, safety between airplanes and cars, and safety between airplanes and structures.
Of course, safety is an ongoing process and the only way it is maintained is through vigilance.
With summer now upon us and airpark activities increasing, it is time to take a hard look at how and what your airpark has done to make sure it maintains a safe atmosphere.
While most airparks have separate taxiways and roads, there are a number of them making joint use for taxiing airplanes and driving cars.
Have all residents gotten a written reminder that airplanes have the right-of-way? Have you made sure that you have established and distributed rules for operating on the joint use streets? Are there speed limits in force? Have you held a meeting and discussed the issue?
On the airparks with separate taxiways have you walked the length of the taxiway to check for changes over the winter? Are there any holes in the taxiway paving or turf? How about rocks that have suddenly appeared? Have shrubs grown up next to the taxiway? Have people gotten careless about where they tie down their plane or do kids leave a bike near the taxiway right-of-way?
How about the runway itself? Is there moss on it now that can affect the braking action? Are the runway lights still operating properly? Are bulbs burned out or reflectors broken? Is the paving solid or has a dip developed somewhere? If you have turf, are there soft spots or is the grass higher than it should be? Have horses or other animals created any problems along the way? Have fences or other structures been built during the winter that are close to the runway? Have ruts been created by trucks or cars that have driven down the strip? Has anyone checked to see if there are any rocks or boards or tree limbs on the runway?
As flying activities increase, have you had a homeowners’ meeting to discuss safe flying and good neighbor methods? Can those with loud engines be encouraged to reduce power early? How about the trees near the airport? Have they grown enough to be a hazard during take-off or landing maneuvers? Are there any new antennas in the neighborhood? How about new buildings or noise-sensitive areas?
Have you encouraged everyone to sit down with their youngsters and make sure they are well aware of the rules for their safety? Have rules been established for what and where children can and cannot do things? Things such as not riding a bike down the runway or taxiway should be reiterated. Remember, they are kids.
And, adults need to remember that the runway is reserved for airplanes. That means not jogging or walking the runway except where everyone agrees that should be done. Even taxiways should be utilized with wariness so as to assure that no one or any things are damaged. Walking or riding horses or exercising dogs needs to be looked into and done with safety as the number one goal.
Airparks can remain enjoyable and extremely safe places but only with constant attention to details. Adults and children alike need to be made aware of the rules for safety.