Editor’s note: For many years Dave Sclair, retired GANews publisher and founder of Living With Your Plane, has spoken at Oshkosh about residential airparks. Some of the questions that always come up during his session year after year probably are ones you’ve wondered about, too.
Question – How do we handle concerns of homeowners living in the immediate vicinity of our residential airpark but aren’t part of our community? They are making comments about the noise, fear of airplanes crashing onto their homes and low-flying airplanes.
Answer – The simple solution to most of the problems is called “being a good neighbor.”
Make sure all your airpark residents keep the maximum safe altitude over nearby homes. Try to avoid flying over the school, church, hospital and housing developments as much as possible while still maintaining proper approach and departure practices.
Encourage everyone to operate at hours that are compatible with folks in the area. In other words, try to avoid taking off at 4 am on a Sunday morning when neighbors are normally sleeping. If you do have to depart at such an hour, try to operate as quietly as you can.
Obviously, flying aerobatics immediately over the airport or nearby isn’t a good idea. Most non-pilots look at such maneuvers as “hot-dogging” at best or dangerous activities at best. Repetitious touch and go’s for long periods of time also tend to irritate neighbors so it is best to utilize a nearby commercial airport for that type of training or currency.
As for fear of accidents, flying conservatively will help reduce those concerns among your neighbors but educating them about aviation is probably the best thing you can do.
Invite neighbors over for a potluck on a nice Sunday afternoon and offer them a flight over the area so they can see their own house from the air. Show them positive aspects of general aviation and explain the differences between your light planes and the airliners. Make sure they understand that even if an engine quit, a light plane can glide a long way; it won’t just drop straight down out of the sky.
Take every opportunity to point out your fly-in community’s safety record. It is also a good idea to let local police, fire and hospital officials know about your airpark and encourage them to use your facilities in case of an emergency. That’s being a good neighbor!
Have a question? Email Dave.