Training routes at Falcon Field dangerous - East Valley Tribune: Opinion

Training routes at Falcon Field dangerous

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Posted: Tuesday, September 29, 2009 9:13 pm | Updated: 2:18 am, Sat Oct 8, 2011.

Terri Eisenhauer: The Tribune advertises itself as an “independent voice that informs people and protects their rights.” I beg to disagree. The Keep Falcon Field Safe committee is not anti-Falcon Field or anti-aviation. We have lived in harmony with Falcon Field for more than 20 years, enjoying the flights around the airports. We expected growth at the airport and hoped it would become a vital part of Mesa.

 The Tribune advertises itself as an “independent voice that informs people and protects their rights.” I beg to disagree. The Keep Falcon Field Safe committee is not anti-Falcon Field or anti-aviation. We have lived in harmony with Falcon Field for more than 20 years, enjoying the flights around the airports. We expected growth at the airport and hoped it would become a vital part of Mesa.

Keep Falcon Field Safe is about concern for the safety, health and well-being, and quality of life of community members who have been placed in harm’s way by the round robin “touch and go” training patterns of Sabena, the world’s largest commercial airline training center. Adverse risk has not been evident in the training of private pilots by other flight training schools at Falcon Field — only in the “commercial” training patterns flown by Sabena.

The most dangerous times of flight are during takeoffs and landings. Sabena students fly more than 500 “touch and go” operations on a daily and continuous basis over the neighborhoods, schools and businesses surrounding Falcon Field. Each of these practice patterns unduly risks the lives of community members. The commercial patterns flown by Sabena students extend so far over the neighborhoods they would be unable to return if engine failure occurred.

All pilots have a great safety record — until they crash. In the history of Falcon Field, there have been numerous accidents — not all lucky enough to avoid calamity. A number of fatalities in areas near the airport have occurred, including three fatalities last summer during another training flight. A witness said the flight came straight down with no chance of gliding to another area. One second earlier, the crash would have been into a home; one second later, into a Wal-Mart.

Our message has been an effort to educate the community of the dangers imposed by Sabena’s flight-training patterns and to influence city officials to protect community members. Employees of the airport and city manager’s office have consistently blocked our investigative and educational efforts. For additional information, visit our Web site at www.keepfalconfieldsafe.com.

We applaud the efforts by an ad hoc task force that is providing recommendations to Mesa. However, we disagree the recommendations will provide relief for community members. For council member Dina Higgins to suggest our committee would give carte blanche to all, or any, of the task force’s recommendations is a misrepresentation of the efforts of Keep Falcon Field Safe.

The city will host a public hearing 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. today on the second floor of the Mesquite Building at the Mesa Community College Red Mountain Campus, 7110 E. McKellips Road.

Community members might also view and comment on the task force recommendations at the Falcon Field Web site, www.mesaaz.gov/falcon_field/.

Terri Eisenhauer is a member of the Keep Falcon Field Safe Committee.

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