GUEST COMMENTARY: Chatham Airport, a community asset
August 9, 2013
  • Share
  • CHATHAM —As a private pilot and a Cape Cod resident I would like to voice my support for the continued operation of Chatham Municipal airport without restriction.

    It has come to my attention that you have recently been contacted by local residents who live in the vicinity of the airports approach/departure path regarding noise and safety concerns.

    I am always amazed that property owners who purchase homes near existing airports complain when during the “busy” season things get busy. I am sure these same people complain about tourists blocking up the grocery store, the roads and the beach.

    The complaints usually revolve around noise and safety, while there is always some noise associated with a healthy airport, that same noise is indicative of economic activity that keeps the community vital.

    General Aviation has a very good safety record as is documented by the AOPA’s Air Safety Foundation in the annual Nall report (http://www.aopa.org) You are much more likely to be injured or killed in your car or bath tub than by having an airplane hit your house or land on you.

    The assertion that there is no organized flight path or that the lack of a control tower somehow makes Chatham Airport unsafe illustrates a misunderstanding of the training all pilots receive. Pilots are taught procedures for announcing their location in the traffic pattern, to land into the wind and to “see and avoid” other traffic. We practice things like aborted landings to make sure when we need to perform them we do so with confidence and consistency.

    Every two years, pilots go through competency reviews called the Bi-Annual Flight Review to maintain the privileges of their license.  Additionally, pilots must have a physical exam by a certified doctor to remain legal to fly every one to five years depending on the class of license they hold.

    If the concern is strictly safety we should be advocating recurring training and testing for automobile licenses since the vast majority of vehicle accidents occur in the U.S. on roadways not airways

    Given that we live on a peninsula that sticks 35 miles into the Atlantic Ocean I would suggest we should value the airports we have and encourage their use. They represent the lifeline we all depend on when a disaster strikes. If the bridges were to be damaged or the Pilgrim Nuclear Facility had a problem we would all be grateful for the presence and operation of this general aviation airport providing a place for relief supplies to arrive and safe evacuation.

    I would encourage you all to review the number of fatal accidents at Chatham Municipal Airport compared against the number of fatal automotive accidents in Chatham.

    Personally, I feel much safer using an airplane to travel over a crowded interstate.

    I encourage anyone who has concerns about General Aviation to contact the AOPA and explore the actual facts regarding the occurrences.  I would also suggest comparing those risks to both pilots and the general public to the rates of accidents in other areas of our daily lives.

    James Ford lives in Orleans.