by Patrick Jirschele
July 25, 2004
A few weeks ago while I was on the phone in the cabin, a plane came in too low and way too close. The noise was deafening as it pulled up and over the new house and trees. Why it didn't stall or hit the trees is a tribute to that old plane. There was another plane that turned off to the center of the Narrows. My guess is that they some how didn't see each other and one plane crowded the other. It was over in a second. I was shaking then too, but I bet I wasn't the only one.
When we first moved to our home on Pennock the planes seldom flew close to the houses here. Back in 1989, there was a gentleman's agreement with the Tongass Aircraft Pilots Association. They agreed to not fly before 7:00am or after 10:00pm. They agreed to fly down the middle of the Narrows and not cut over homes on Pennock Island.
Many pilots still honor this agreement. Many do not. I should make it clear that according to the FAA, no one is breaking the law. On takeoff and landing, the planes can fly over homes at any altitude. The floatplanes are landing on the Narrows, not an airport, so there is no real control over landing patterns. We are a few miles from the airport and have much more traffic and noise than if we lived on the end of the runway. We depend on the honor of the pilots for some peace in our homes. So much for zoning laws protecting residential property.
Why do they fly over or close
to our homes? Over the years I have made many complaints. I have
gotten many answers, some less than civil. Here are some of them.
One company, Pacific Airways, tries to honor the old agreement. If they get a call because one of their planes strayed over a home, they take care of it right away. Always cordial, always professional and the exception. That attitude promotes a safe operation and a good neighbor. A pilot who cuts over a home to save a few seconds or a couple of ounces of fuel may cut corners elsewhere.
I wish someone would blow the dust off the old agreement and have the gentlemen and gentlewomen of the Tongass Aircraft Pilots Association sign it again.
Why did I want to sleep-in this morning? A friend who has children the same age as my grandchildren called late last night. He wanted to know if I thought Ketchikan was still a good place to raise children.
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