A residential airpark is a wonderful place to live, bring up a family and enjoy the convenience of living with your airplane, whether that is for business or pleasure.
But, even as it provides great peace of mind for most residents of the airparks, the facility is often misunderstood and confused by those unfamiliar with this type of living. Unfortunately, the end result of this lack of understanding can be suspicion, fear and attempts to invoke unnecessary controls.
Those who live on residential airparks know their homes are usually safer than if they lived in the average community neighborhood and their aircraft are less vulnerable than those parked at the community airport. Everyone on a residential airpark knows everyone else; they know the cars neighbors drive and who lives in each house. Strangers and unrecognized vehicles are immediately spotted.
Airplanes based at an airpark are universally recognized by all residents. When a strange airplane lands many eyes are on that craft until it departs or parks in a neighbor’s yard. All residents know where their airplane is at all times and who has access to it.
Unfortunately, those unfamiliar with residential airparks only see a small field with no armed, uniformed security guards similar to those at airline terminals. People who know nothing about light planes see a Cessna 152 as a potential weapon capable of duplicating the disaster of the airliners slamming into the World Trade Center. Uninformed individuals see the lack of fencing around an airpark and fail to recognize the closeness of the owners of the airplanes.
As a result of ignorance, there has been – and will continue to be – calls for controls at all private airparks, whether they are general usage fields or residential airparks. How long the FAA and TSA will ignore the calls for stringent regulations on private fields is unknown. But, it is likely that some efforts will be made in the not-to-distant future to require such things are airpark fencing, security guards and possibly even closure of certain airparks close to strategic community facilities.
It is far easier for an elected official to side with a vocal element in a community that attempts to speak for the masses than it is to listen to the reasoned approach of the small number of people living on a residential airpark.
Controls mandated by a local government entity, the FAA or the TSA would, in all likelihood, be onerous, expensive to develop and inconvenient for the residents of an airpark.
To thwart this effort, Living With Your Plane has developed a program for airpark security self-certification. When airpark owners and residents complete the LWYP checklist, they will readily know how much – or how little – security is in place on their airpark.
We encourage airpark associations to request inspection assistance from local police and fire departments. Not only can these public agencies assist in security planning, but they also can help check the property for safety concerns.
While these inspections are being made, police, fire and other emergency agencies should be encouraged to feel free to utilize your runway, when appropriate, for emergency helicopter flights or other medivac purposes. Being a good neighbor in such a manner can help insure the future of your airpark and others by educating important community safety experts.
Will self-certification keep the FAA and TSA from imposing stringent and expensive controls? No one can know but we feel strongly that a concerted effort to self-certify for security will go a long way toward keeping these agencies from imposing extensive and expensive regulations.