by Dave Kiffer
July 26, 2004
Those of us who have lived along the waterfront have always had to deal with the noise from Ketchikan's "airport." We've all experienced double phone call pauses where a plane would roar past one person and then a short time later roar past the person on the other end of the line. That's why we all thought it was pretty funny when folks opposed to the Gravina Island airport said it would be noisy. A 737 or 727 is a whisper compared to a Cessna 185 or Grumman Goose in full take-off roar. Even today's Beavers and Otters are somewhat quieter than their predecessors.
But that still doesn't mean the incessant summer sorties can't drive one batty. We recently lived in the Millar Street area for several years but we've gladly traded the clear waterfront views for some summer peace and quiet by moving back above Downtown. On Millar Street, you didn't need an alarm, because the reving engines would wake you between 5 and 6 am. We were told that the air taxis never started their engines that early but something would wake us up and it wasn't the echoing of the engines from 11 pm the night before. Did you know that the Ketchikan Gateway Borough actually takes the airplane noise into account when it values the property in that area? It also lowers property values on some Pennock parcels for the same reason. Sometimes our lovely waterviews come with an asterisk.
Pat says that there used to be an "agreement" with the float plane operators to not buzz the houses on Pennock. There used to also be an "agreement" to limit the noise townside from takeoffs as much as possible. But as the focus has changed (less air taxi, more flightseeing) companies have had to compress their operations into summer daylight hours and it is more important to save a little time and little fuel. And as each flight takes off, courtesy becomes a little less common.
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