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Council votes to take over Palo Alto Airport

Original post made on Aug 12, 2014

Palo Alto Airport on Monday became Palo Alto's airport after the City Council unanimously agreed to transfer the facility from the Santa Clara County's control to the city's.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Tuesday, August 12, 2014, 3:05 PM

Comments (125)

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Posted by Jim
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Aug 12, 2014 at 4:51 pm

Its great that the city will now be in charge of this community resource.


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Posted by Jetman
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 12, 2014 at 6:00 pm

Jim,

Unfortunately Palo Alto will have very little control of this community resource.

Palo Alto will inherit a Airport Improvement Grant (AIP) with the transfer of the airport, so for most practical purposes it will be the FAA that has control of the airport.

Palo Alto will have little to no control over most aspects of the airport important to the residents of Palo Alto. If you want to understand Airport Improvement Grants... think ABAG for airports. It is a way for the federal government to squash local democratic control of municipal property.

Read the article below. Santa Clara County got in trouble with the FAA for something as petty as rejecting a skydiving application! Imagine the federal government micromanaging this level of detail from 3000 miles away in Washington DC.

City set to take control of Palo Alto Airport
Palo Alto Online ~ August 11, 2014 Web Link


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 12, 2014 at 6:53 pm

If this is done well, it will be a great boon to our City. If it is done badly it will be another money pit. Please make sure that the right person with the right experience is at the helm in this. Then make sure that the right service amenities are introduced to enable Airport users to them.

A coffee shop, restaurant, shuttle, bike hire, all these services and probably more I can't think of, are all likely to make this more successful.


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Posted by Big Dummies
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 12, 2014 at 6:54 pm

The city hasn't a clue about what they are doing in this matter, and they have no business in the airline industry.


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Posted by Less is more
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 12, 2014 at 7:00 pm

Resident,

"A coffee shop, restaurant, shuttle, bike hire, all these services and probably more I can't think of, are all likely to make this more successful."

Please No investments in making this a success. Why would we want more private planes over our heads?

The more uncomfortable, and ugly it can be, the better.

Who is going to bike from their plane anyway?





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Posted by Big-Mistake
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 12, 2014 at 7:07 pm

> The city has transferred $1.6 million from the General Fund to
> the airport fund to date, said Airport Manager Andrew Swanson.

Well .. that didn't take long. This is doubtless the first of many transfers of cash from the General Fund to this money-losing proposition.

It's hard to believe that the Council has been conned into this--but given the players on the Council, very few of them really care about Palo Alto. The non-residents who will be the primary beneficiaries of this stupidity certainly don't care.


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Posted by Big-Mistake
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 12, 2014 at 7:19 pm

> With 180,000 takeoffs and landings annually

This comes to about 40 an hour (365/12-hour days).

This is really hard to believe. If it's false, then the source of this information needs to be fired, and possibly charged with a crime.


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Posted by Bikes2work
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 12, 2014 at 8:39 pm

B-M,

According to the link below, PAO has had as many as 240,000 operations per year in prior years.

Web Link

It also says San Carlos (not as busy as PAO) had about 150,000 operations per year.


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Posted by JimG
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 12, 2014 at 9:05 pm

The two best days of an airport owners life. The day you own the airport and the day you sell it.


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Posted by Jetman
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 12, 2014 at 10:40 pm

Big-mistake,

To the approximately 500 take-offs and landings per day at PAO, you need to add another 180-200 SFO bound aircraft transiting Palo Alto airspace every day to get a decent approximation of the total load on Palo Alto airspace.

The 24 hour flight tracks linked below show air traffic over Palo Alto from all surrounding airports. In the last several years Palo Alto has become a dumping ground for SFO bound air traffic.

It is also important to remember, although you have calculated the take-offs and landings per hour based on a 12 hour day, the FAA rules imposed under the terms of PAO's FAA-AIP grant will prevent Palo Alto from imposing any limit on the times which aircraft can use PAO for take-offs or landings.

24 flight tracks over Palo Alto: Web Link


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Posted by Jetman
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 12, 2014 at 10:54 pm

From an environmental point of view, there is little room for PAO to expand. The EPA has been studying lead emissions at general aviation airports, and PAO did not fair very well:

0.33 ug/m^3 (San Carlos, CA)
0.17 ug/m^3 (McClelland, CA)
0.12 ug/m^3 (Palo Alto, CA)
0.09 ug/m^3 (Reid-Hillview, CA)
0.07 ug/m^3 (Gillespie, CA)
0.07 ug/m^3 (Merril, AK)
0.06 ug/m^3 (Van Nuys, CA)
0.06 ug/m^3 (Auburn, WA)
0.04 ug/m^3 (Deer Valley, AZ)
0.03 ug/m^3 (Brookhaven, NY)
0.03 ug/m^3 (Stinson, TX)
0.02 ug/m^3 (Harvey, WA)
0.01 ug/m^3 (Republic, NY)

At 0.12 ug/m^3 Palo Alto Airport is only 0.02 below the EPA's limit of 0.15 ug/m^3. Even a small increase in activity at PAO could push PAO over the limit.

A Duke University study found that children attending schools within one kilometer of an airport, had elevated levels of lead in their blood.

How can Palo Alto even consider expanding the airport, or encouraging people (especially kids) to congregate there, given how close the airport already is to the EPA limit?

Leaded Fuel Is a Thing of the Past—Unless You Fly a Private Plane
Mother Jones ~ January 3, 2013 Web Link

EPA Airport Lead Monitoring Program Update: Web Link


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Posted by Rational
a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 13, 2014 at 6:18 am

You know, access to small airplanes is one of the few things remaining that truly differentiates America from the rest of the world. Only a small percentage of the people in the community are high tech entrepreneurs; and of that, an even smaller percentage become billionaire. That does not stop Palo Alto from wanting to be a high tech hub. Maybe the NIMBYs here don't want that either.

People come here from all over the world to fly here: just last weekend I met a 20-something from Norway who was spending the summer here to build air time. Spending money at local establishments because it is so expensive to fly in Europe. He is not unique, I have met people from all over the world here.

You have to look at aviation infrastructure in other countries and the results of that to appreciate what we have. Remember that a perfectly good 777 recently broke apart at SFO on a perfectly good weather day just because the pilot had to hand fly the airplane? Stuff like this happens because kids in other countries learn to fly "by the computer" ... And not basic stick and rudder skills.

Let's push for lead free fuel, but let's not push little planes out. They are the stuff of dreams, and before you call them millionaires dreams, think again ... $10,000 to get your license and $5-10,000 per year for typical level of hobby flying. Not too different from any other serious hobby.

Oh and by the way, since the existance of Palo Alto airport, there have been two crashes that took out power in the last 75 years. If the city didn't have a single point of failure in the power system, the power failure could have been avoided.


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Posted by boscoli
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 13, 2014 at 7:33 am

@Rational, so if I got my kicks riding a very noisy motorcycle past your house 200 times a day it would be fine with you because it's a stuff of dreams?


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Posted by Less is more
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 13, 2014 at 8:08 am

Rational,

"You know, access to small airplanes is one of the few things remaining that truly differentiates America from the rest of the world. "

Small airplanes in America are the only privileged planes (in all of the world) to be allowed to use leaded fuel.

Why is that rational?

As for your European friend building air time here - of course it's cheaper to fly here than in Europe. The FAA basically has no health standards compared to Europe.

Next time you see a 20 something from Europe building airport here, please ask why it's so expensive to fly in Europe.


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Posted by less is more
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 13, 2014 at 8:10 am

Next time you see a 20 something from Europe building airport here, please ask why it's so expensive to fly in Europe.

Correction - Building AIR time


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Posted by Less is more
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 13, 2014 at 8:19 am

Jetman,

"the FAA rules imposed under the terms of PAO's FAA-AIP grant will prevent Palo Alto from imposing any limit on the times which aircraft can use PAO for take-offs or landings."

Does the FAA have any rules on times airplanes can fly?

Rational,

In Europe, no limit on times which aircraft can fly would probably be irrational.

Your logic that Europe hardly has billionaires than we do, with leaded fuel and dreams doesn't make sense to me. My dreams would be no leaded fuel, limits on times when airplanes could fly, and let the market decide the billionaires part.


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Posted by Big-Mistake
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 13, 2014 at 9:03 am

> To the approximately 500 take-offs and landings per day at PAO,
> you need to add another 180-200 SFO bound aircraft transiting
> Palo Alto airspace every day to get a decent approximation of the
> total load on Palo Alto airspace.

Thank you for pointing that out. Airspace loading certainly is worth tracking—particularly where noise originating from aircraft is concerned. However, the takeoff/landing number was promoted as a metric of the traffic at the PAO—which was supposed to impress us. Unfortunately, as with so many number offered up by government—it's very difficult to be certain that the data is valid.

For instance—it's my impression that "touch-and-go" landings are included in the takeoff/landing numbers. Well—certainly anytime a plane/pilot uses the runway, that use should be noted. Assuming that a plane can make several touch-n-go landings where a true take off, or landing, will only get a tally of "1"—then the data would be skewed. There is currently no evidence of how this number is actually determined.

From doing a web-search on "touch-n-go" landings, it would seem that the flight instructors have mixed feelings on their use by beginning pilots. There is no suggestion that there is anything wrong with this practice—just that it needs to be accounted for differently that a "full" takeoff, or landing.

The problem of noise from aircraft is a well-known issue. The City has been involved in this matter for a couple of decades, but has not ever acquired noise measurement equipment to monitor airplane noise. Noise seems to affect Palo Alto on a geographic basis. For instance, the noise from the Bill Graham Center in Mountain View can be heard in the north end of town, and hardly at all in the south end of town.


What's called for her is a weekly posting of take-off/landing data, so that the public can see what really is going on at this municipally-owned money pit.

> power outages

The fact that the City has only sustained two power outages in 75 years of airport activity in the baylands seems to be a proud point for at least one poster. For those of us who were denied access to our life for a whole day by the irresponsible actions of one pilot—it's a very sore point.

The City Utility is, of course, responsible for the single point-of-failure that was the secondary cause of the power outage. The Council did not even bat an eye when this total power outage occurred. While the Council has, from time-to-time, gotten involved in all sorts of issues that have nothing to do with Palo Alto, it's amazing that when there are substantive issues—like a total power outage—not a peep from the nine of these elected officials.

Sadly, the pilot did not survive his last takeoff. Had he, he would have been the target of millions of dollars of lawsuits seeking compensation. As it turned out—this pilot didn't have much in the way of reserves, or insurance, to pay those whose property he damaged, or whose lives he terminated.


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Posted by Chris Zaharias
a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 13, 2014 at 9:35 am

Chris Zaharias is a registered user.

My 17yo son just got his pilot's license at PA Airport, and it's without question been the most joyous, character-building undertaking of his life.

THIS IS AMERICA, the land of the plane, the land whose airplane production and use has won wars against fascism and opened the world to global trade and improved living conditions the likes of which our species has never before seen.

Have a bit of perspective, people, and come out and join the *FUN* at the PA Airport!!!


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Posted by less is more
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 13, 2014 at 9:49 am

Zaharias,

Fun at the expense of leaded gas and noise to the surrounding community?


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Posted by boscoli
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 13, 2014 at 9:53 am

The reason small airports are so rare in Europe is that the citizens are too smart to allow hobbyists to spray the toxic products of unleaded fuel on them, too smart to allow that kind of noise pollution and danger. The fact a small airport is allowed to exists adjacent to residential neighborhoods, with the pertaining municipalities not even having the authority to regulate the noise, number and time of takeoffs and landings is actually an indication of what's wrong with America, rather than what's right. Fortunately for the Europeans, they have fewer billionaires and their ability to buy the government and do whatever they please is much smaller than ours


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Posted by Big-Mistake
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 13, 2014 at 10:02 am

> THIS IS AMERICA, the land of the plane, the land whose airplane
> production and use has won wars against fascism
> and opened the world to global trade and improved living
> conditions the likes of which our species has never before seen

Well .. yes, this is America .. but as to the rest of these claims .. not so sure.

Airplanes are not great cargo carriers. Ships and trains get the credit for carting the raw materials to the worlds' factories, and the finished goods to the worlds' markets. Airplanes are great for carting people here and there—for vacations or business, but not for carting coal, oil, or cars.

It's true that airplanes were very important in the conduct of WWII. WWI, not so much. Strategic Bombing of Germany, and Japan resulted in diminishing both countries' ability to conduct their wartime activities, but conventional strategic bombing alone did not win WWII.

> My 17yo son just got his pilot's license at PA Airport

Do you think your son will join the US Airforce, and use his piloting skills to defend this great land?

Here in California, the promoters of the HSR have made it clear that they want to put an end to air traffic—forcing people to ride in a state-owned train, instead. It's unlikely that this will happen, but there are significant forces at work that don't seem to see air traffic as good for the future.

Certainly General Aviation has a role to play in rural areas. The DC3, for instance, introduced in the 1930s, is still flying cargo into remote areas all over the world. For those folks, it's a life saver, and a life giver. But here in Palo Alto—there is certainly no evidence that the airport has ever been little more than a nuisance for most of us. The original airstrip, by the way, on the Stanford Campus, was such a nuisance that the residents of College Terrace were about to sue Stanford (or the air school)—presumably to shut them down. It was about that time that some people in Palo Alto decided to make land available outside of Palo Alto (over in the bay lands) to the air school. Subsequent history showed a lack of financial success. The airport was about to close when it was taken over by the County, to be subsidized by Palo Alto and the County ever since.

> My 17yo son just got his pilot's license at PA Airport

Could your son have gotten his license at the San Carlos airport? Would that have been less of an "experience" for him?


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Posted by Rational
a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 13, 2014 at 10:30 am

Let's get the Lead out of AvGas. I totally support that effort. Although it is not on the top 10 sources (cheap toys are) of lead pollution, it is one.

But if I get this,
1. San Carlos is OK to hold an airport, but NOT IN MY BACK YARD
2. Noisy motorcycle outside your house = PLANE at 1,500 feet

Let's look at data. Noise abatement procedures state that aircraft fly 1,500 feet or above WEST (town side) of the US-101 and make an immediate right turn over the bay on take-off (which is typically to the NW out of Palo Alto). With 500 take offs and landings = 250 planes at Palo Alto a day (assume no "touch-and-go"), with over half flying directly over the bay going North through South-East, and the remainder between a third and a half mile high ...

BOSCOLI - this is the equivalent of your kids going by my house on a moped TWICE a day while talking in a somewhat loud conversational voice. I will be OK with that and WILL NOT TRY TO BAN MOPEDS or KIDS!

I am with Zaharias, it is one of the most joyous and character building, discipline teaching experiences. But, there will always be more non-pilots than there will be pilots.

But even if I wasn't a pilot (disclosure: I am), I would want to be the kid standing next to a chain link fence watching planes take off rather than sitting in an over-sized shopping cart at Costco.


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Posted by Big-Mistake
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 13, 2014 at 10:40 am

> Noise abatement procedures state that aircraft fly
> 1,500 feet or above WEST (town side) of the US-101
> and make an immediate right turn over the bay on
> take-off (which is typically to the NW out of Palo Alto).

That's nice to know—but is it true? What enforcement is in place to insure that EVERY airplane using the PAO flies the required flight path, at the required height? Answer—NONE!

Without municipal enforcement, all of the claims about the airport having no impact on Palo Alto (and its residents) are simply hot air.


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Posted by less is more
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 13, 2014 at 10:58 am

Zaharias,

"this is the equivalent of your kids going by my house on a moped TWICE a day "

Not true, can't be true - those two times add up.

Can you provide proof that it's like a moped?


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Posted by Big-Mistake
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 13, 2014 at 11:05 am

Well .. now that Palo Alto has declared to the world that it is rich enough to afford to operate an airport for mostly non-resident users—it most certainly is rich enough to re-open the yacht harbor, which it close in the 1980s—

Palo Alto Yacht Harbor Closure:
Web Link

It would pay for everyone to read this short history of the harbor's closure. There are some names of political insiders that seem to have been very hostile to boaters, but not so much to pilots. Might be interesting to find out why some special interest groups get so much financial support from the City, and others--well, they get nothing.


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Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Aug 13, 2014 at 11:24 am

The EPA lead standard was 10x higher until a couple years ago. Odd that San Carlos has fewer operations than Palo Alto but much more lead. And the lowest on the list, Republic on Long Island, has more operations. Makes me question how these data are collected. The monitors are actually located right at the engine run-up and take-off end of the primary runway. The data are maximum seasonal values, not full year averages. Lead concentrations are modeled to decrease by a factor of four at a distance 500 feet away -- further measurements are underway to confirm the EPA's models. When the low-lead fuel is finally phased out, I suppose noise will become the major complaint if it isn't already. But 99 percent of the noise I hear overhead here in town is not general aviation.

San Carlos airport is a more challenging flight venue, being so much closer to SFO, and being more crowded by development.

I don't foresee much demand for more food options or other amenities near the Palo Alto airport. There is already the Abundant Air Cafe, and across a parking lot is the Bay Cafe at the golf course, neither of which I'd rave about. Your mileage may vary. There's nothing commercial I know of across Embarcadero near the sewage treatment plant or toward the duck pond or Lucy Evans Baylands Interpretive Center or the old Sea Scout building restored now as the EcoCenter. When I see families out there, the kids seem more interested in the planes than anything else, unless they are feeding the ducks, which is no longer a condoned activity.

A hundred yards before the duck pond there's a nice walking path from Embarcadero leading to the end of the runway where people go to watch take-offs and landings up close. You'll be able to see much more at the Airport Day Open House which I believe is scheduled for Sunday September 28. (They'll have food trucks.)


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Posted by boscoli
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 13, 2014 at 11:25 am

No pilot flying out of PAO has ever been disciplined, to the best of my knowledge, for not taking the recommended flight path or for flying to low, buzzing , etc. INo pilot will ever be disciplined for it. t's actually a clique which protects each other and doesn't allow outsiders to effectively regulate their behavior. This farce is particularly outrageous because the users of the POA are overwhelmingly non residents. A pilot who is a resident of Atherton, Woodside, Los Altos Hill would be laughed out of his town if he/she requested they build for him and fellow hobbyists a general aviation airport, but they love having the Palo Alto tax payer subsidize their hobby and they don't seem to mind too much spraying leaded fuel particulates on us residents, with the active support of our hubristic and hapless city council.


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Posted by Peninsula Commuter
a resident of another community
on Aug 13, 2014 at 12:05 pm

Palo Alto is NOT responsible for the single point-of-failure of the three transmission lines near the Palo Alto Airport. These lines are owned by PG&E and the design and location of the lines is their responsibility. Palo Alto Utilities has been actively working with PG&E and the CAL ISO to come up with a solution. Two alternative solutions have been developed. This was discussed at a UAC meeting on April 7, 2010. The meeting minutes are on the City of Palo Alto website.


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Posted by Jetman
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 13, 2014 at 12:11 pm

Rational,

I have a lot of sympathy for your dream (or at least used to), but the aviation industry has become its own worst enemy.

By protecting the aviation industry from market forces and community input, the FAA has allowed the aviation industry to stagnate in the 1950s in many areas important to the community.

Lead should have been phased out of aviation gas years ago, when lead was phased of automobile gas. Why are we even having a discussion about leaded fuel in 2014? Leaded avgas is the number-one source of lead in the environment, and PAO is only 0.02 below the EPA's limit of 0.15 ug/m^3. How can anyone defend that with silly arguments about paint and toys? Think about it... were your kids sucking on lead toys, and eating paint chips when they grew up?

In the 1960s the US military developed a prop-driven plane (the YO-3) that was virtually silent from 70 feet away. Fifty years later, why hasn't this technology found its way into general aviation? Would your kid's experience have been any different it they had learned to fly in a YO-3 burning lead-free gas?

Aviation is stuck in the 1950s because of Soviet-style top down protection of the aviation industry by the FAA. If Palo Alto wants to move into the future with PAO, it must first free itself from the moribund rules imposed by the FAA through AIP grants.

If PAO is truly a financially viable operation, they should be able to find plenty of low interest capital in the commercial financial markets.


"Leaded Fuel Is a Thing of the Past—Unless You Fly a Private Plane"
Mother Jones ~ January 3, 2013 Web Link

EPA Airport Lead Monitoring Program Update: Web Link

One day of air traffic over Palo Alto: Web Link


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Posted by Jetman
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 13, 2014 at 12:21 pm

More on the virtually silent YO-3 can be found here: Web Link Web Link


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Posted by Dennis
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Aug 13, 2014 at 12:38 pm

Listen all you nay Sayers, this is a good thing, negatives will be worked out and this little airport will grow just like this great area is and has to be to create the tech giant that it is. Progress and development is happening all around us and all modes of transportation to and from this area will require growth and advancement. Good city leadership is all that is required along with the vision of what a superb aviation hub our airport could be for locals and business alike.


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Posted by less is more
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 13, 2014 at 1:34 pm

Dennis,

"Good city leadership is all that is required"

Perhaps to make the airport successful (especially the money the CIty can give to the airport) but not to deal with all the problems like noise, pollution, and the poor safety statistics for private pilots. That's like saying all HSR needs is good state leadership.

Just in the last weeks, there was some failure with a small private plane killing a father daughter walking on the beach.

I think we need more information, and I would not take the word of aficionados on this one.


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Posted by boscoli
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 13, 2014 at 1:36 pm

Goodness gracious me Dennis. You think this area needs MORE growth?


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Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 13, 2014 at 2:47 pm

@less

Just two weeks ago a 90 year old man injured five people parking his car downtown. It's likely his excursion was recreational and not essential business. Worse yet, the driver's a non-resident from San Jose. Shut down the roads to car traffic?

Web Link


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Posted by less is more
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 13, 2014 at 3:16 pm

Anonymous,

Thank you for reminding me. Car drivers have some pretty specific rules. They can't do this, can't do that. In particular with regard to traffic and safety. State and local rules apply.

With aircraft, the traffic and safety rules are largely up to the FAA. They get to decide what's pollution, they get to decide what's noise, and they get to decide who can fly in and out of your community. No traffic or safety (pollution) boundaries for pilots.

I think the way air traffic and car traffic is managed is VERY different.

By the way, I'm amazed how private airplane owners have known about the leaded fuel deal, and have done nothing to change what appears to be a very very wrong way to operate. Now, now we hear "let's" get lead out of AVgas?


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Posted by Jetman
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 13, 2014 at 5:03 pm

Less,

I like your analogy, but why don't state and local laws apply to local airports...

Local governments "sell" our rights to regulate airport noise, pollution, etc, in exchange for Airport Improvement Project (AIP) money. This is a great deal for the local government, since it is the citizens rights they are actually selling, and a great deal for the FAA because they are buying the exemption with your federal tax dollars.

The big loser in all of this is the average citizen who is forced to pay for his own enslavement. The big winners are the aircraft owners and airlines who become exempt from state and local pollution regulations at no cost to themselves.

In the case of San Francisco, which owns and operates SFO as a for profit corporation, this is an even better deal. San Francisco is not "selling" the rights of its own citizens. San Francisco is "selling" the rights of the citizens of San Mateo County!

Every SFO bound jetliner has a power-plant on its wings large enough to power a small city, and at 4,000' overhead, they are closer to most of us than Palo Alto's turbine powered generators located near the local landfill.


One day of air traffic over Palo Alto: Web Link


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Posted by 150/95
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 13, 2014 at 8:26 pm

"Just two weeks ago a 90 year old man injured five people parking his car downtown. It's likely his excursion was recreational and not essential business. Worse yet, the driver's a non-resident from San Jose. Shut down the roads to car traffic?"

Could this citizen get a third-class FAA medical certificate?

No?

Thought not.

PAO has no benefit for anybody in his situation, which is shared by a great many of us who get PAO's nuisance and danger, but none of its benefits.

Shut this misbegotten enterprise down and use the land for all Palo Altans.


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Posted by Rational
a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 13, 2014 at 8:52 pm

This is such a comical discussion. People who have absolutely no authority are trying to call pilots (which I would contend is one of the most disciplined groups of people) and the FAA as "irresponsible" and "do whatever you want" people. Wow.

For an average trip longer than 16 miles, a car is more likely to kill you than an airliner (this is published). Note this statistic is NOT for small planes, but airliners. So FAA bashers, think about this when you are on board an airliner going at almost the speed of sound and in air so thin and cold you will lose consciousness in 25 seconds.

Then bash the FAA.

Keep in mind to get to the big planes, you have to fly little planes in a relatively healthy and busy environment first. Otherwise, you get the "computer pilots" who command a transpacific jetliner and crash when asked to hand-fly it down to the runway. You don't get Sullenbergers ... although granted that Mr. Sullenberger was ex-military.

Re: some data. It was hard to find data, but it seems that a Cessna 172 approximately 1/2 mile from landing (so it would be at 600 feet at approximately 50% power) makes about 60 dB, 2X noise more than dishwasher int he next room (50 dB). This level is about 25% lower than a person talking to you 3 feet away. I am not sure I believe this, and where the observing source in the case of the Cessna was. But you can find the data here: Web Link


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Posted by Rational
a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 13, 2014 at 8:53 pm

Oh and sorry-

AVGAS SHOULD NOT HAVE LEAD. END OF STORY. WE NEED TO PUSH THE FAA TO FIX THIS.

Neeraj.


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Posted by Jetman
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 13, 2014 at 9:51 pm

Neeraj,

You are talking down to the wrong audience. Palo Alto has one of the most educationally accomplished and technically proficient populations on earth, and they are tired of being talked down to by people that think a pilots license grants them alone the powers to understand aviation issues.

There are very few Sullenburgers left. Many of today's airline pilots have been trained at trade schools in Asia, where they use social media to cheat on exams, and would panic if they had to fly the plane without an autopilot.

If the FAA is such a responsible organization, why didn't they phase out leaded avgas 40 years ago? If the FAA is such a responsible organization why didn't they ground all of the poorly trained pilots after the Asiana crash? If the the FAA is such a responsible organization why has the FAA failed to honor a year 2000 agreement with Anna Eshoo to maintain a minimum altitude of 5,000' at Menlo IAF? If the FAA is such a responsible organization why do they refuse to do an environmental impact study before rolling-out NextGen ATC in the SFBA Metroplex?

The FAA is a complete mess and pilots know it, and openly discuss it among themselves. They only pretend that the FAA is a paragon of responsibility and efficiency when they are talking to people outside of their little club.

The FAA is a unresponsive, unaccountable Soviet style Federal bureaucracy controlled by the aviation industry, for the aviation industry.


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Posted by less is more
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 13, 2014 at 10:03 pm

Rational

"Then bash the FAA."

Palo Alto Airport appears to be, by most counts, the FAA.

I can't see how air recreation is really "transportation," by the way, it's just recreation. We obsess about housing near trains, walking and biking, but we have average one/two persons per vehicle in the air.


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Posted by Jetman
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 13, 2014 at 10:12 pm

Micheal Huerta (current head of the FAA) has very little experience in the airline industry, and is the first non-pilot to head the FAA. Huerta replaced FAA chief Randy Babbitt who resigned after he was arrested in Virginia for drunk driving in 2011.

"Babbitt was a former airline captain and internationally recognized expert in aviation and labor relations when Obama tapped him in 2009 to head the FAA. He was a pilot for now-defunct Eastern Airlines for 25 years and had served as president of the Air Line Pilots Association in the 1990s. As head of pilots association, he championed the "one level of safety" initiative".

The arresting officer claimed that Babbit was driving on the wrong side of the road. Babbit was later acquitted of the charges when video from the arresting officer's car proved Bobbitt was not on the wrong side of the road, and tests revealed his blood alcohol was below the legal limit in Virginia.

Although Huerta has little aviation experience, he has lots of experience in the toll road racket. Who knew there was a Toll Roads News...

"Michael Huerta replaced by Dave Amoriell at ACS Transportation"
Toll Roads News ~ March 9, 2009 Web Link

"FAA's Randy Babbitt resigns after drunk driving arrest"
Washington Post ~ December 06, 2011 Web Link


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Posted by Rational
a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 13, 2014 at 10:24 pm

Not talking down, at least wasn't the intent. Intelligence and authority in specific subject matter are different though. Note that I am not claiming authority either ... Merely pointing out that some statements appeared inappropriate. But certainly when calling a group irresponsible (as some did) one needs to take perspective.

I won't defend the FAA, hey when I forgot to mention the avgas thing I double posted a shout about that. But there is another side to the story.

The FAA's first goal is to make air transport safe and efficient for airplanes and cargo. Not to keep pilots flying. I think the level of safety they have delivered was only possible because they are in a free market environment that makes it easy to hold people accountable. Improvement opportunities abound with this government office just as with many other agencies. I have heard stories of pilot action and medical certification issues etc which make it hard to believe there is justice. But, comparing them to Soviet era high handedness appears excessive, esp from you who appears knowledgeable.

By the way, enforcement action on noise abatement procedures is also limited. Pilots appear to be generally flying in accordance with noise procedures because "they don't want complaining neighbors" ...

Third, all pilots have heard on the radio someone getting that solemn call: "Airplane so and so can you copy a number down? I want you to give me a call when you land" ... Boy you better call to explain or else hate mail is coming. So the FAA does give tickets! It just doesn't make a scene that you can see because tour are not pulled over.

Less is More: completely different issue! Not pertinent to PAO alone. Agree that one-four people per vehicle is not efficient, just like cars. By the way note that mileage on small planes is about that of a guzzling SUV ... 12 mpg. Not that bad considering there are probably 10 guzzlers driving for each small plane. And to counter that is not to say don't fly, is to make it expensive tax-wise. Put a lead tax. Put a guzzler tax ... Drive behavior based on true economics to the environment rather than "Don't do this here!" Rules. That's my free market perspective :-)



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Posted by less is more
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 13, 2014 at 10:35 pm

Rational,

Free market would be if the FAA was not involved at all in any of the dealings.

This whole thing doesn't sound like a free market, to me. Any economists out there?


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Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Aug 14, 2014 at 3:09 am

@150/95 (?), nobody needs a medical certificate to ride in airplanes out of Palo Alto. Anybody can go tomorrow and arrange a sightseeing flight. Or does that not qualify as a benefit of a local airport?

In fact one doesn't need a medical anymore to become a pilot of aircraft less than 1320 pounds -- the Sport Pilot Certificate only requires a valid driver license. Although I haven't seen ab initio Light Sport Aircraft training advertised at Palo Alto. It's offered at Reid-Hillview -- Web Link


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Aug 14, 2014 at 10:12 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"No pilot flying out of PAO has ever been disciplined, to the best of my knowledge, for not taking the recommended flight path or for flying to low, buzzing , etc."

No correct - during my 18 years on the Palo Alto Airport Joint Community Relations Committee a number of pilots who failed to follow the noise reduction flight patterns were counseled and even threatened with the loss of the hanger space. The peer pressure on fellow pilots was what resulted in the incredibly low rate of noise complaints regarding PAO flights.


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Posted by less is more
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 14, 2014 at 10:40 am

Peter Carpenter,

"pilots who failed to follow the noise reduction flight patterns were counseled"

This is good to know, would you have a link to the way noise reduction flight patterns work?

@Peter, What are noise reduction flight patterns?

I find it odd that the only way to catch noise perps is only if another airplane above is tattling on them. Is that the case?


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Aug 14, 2014 at 11:07 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

The KPAO Noise Reduction guideline are shown here:

Web Link

99% of the pilots who are reported as violating those guidelines are reported by people on the ground. Those calls are then coordinated with the FAA tower staff at KPAO to identify the specific aircraft involved. Counseling, peer pressure and discipline are then used to change pilot behavior.

And the result is a very high level of compliance with the published guidelines.


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Posted by Big-Mistake
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 14, 2014 at 12:15 pm


> Palo Alto Utilities has been actively working with
> PG&E and the CAL ISO to come up with a solution.

This is a questionable statement. At the time of the big outage a couple of years ago the papers reported that the PAU had conducted two studies over the years (20-odd years) that had looked how to reduce the vulnerability of the high tension line feeding Palo Alto. The papers claimed that the PAU claimed that the cost was in the area of $40M to run this cable underwater. (A second feed to the city was discussed, but can't remember the details at this moment.)

So—who is responsible? Who should pay?

When PAU customers who had lost money because of the power outage filed claims against the PAU for compensation—all of these claims were reported in the local papers to have been rejected. The PAU's reasoning: "It is not responsible for delivering continuous, uninterrupted power, to its customers" (or words to that effect).

So—we have a Utility that is nothing more that redistributes power it buys from various sources on the grid, and which is transmitted to the city by power distribution lines that it does not own. As customers of a municipally owned utility company, that does not have much oversight by the CA Public Utilities Commission, and seems to have NO OVERSIGHT by the Palo Alto City Council—we're left with the reality that the PAU is not very responsible to its customers.

Some years ago, when CA Electricity Deregulation went into effect, the transmission line companies began to charge their end customers (in this case the PAU) fees for the passage of power. The PAU began to complain about this—via some very inane comments by one City Council member. Over time, we all have become accustomed to paying these fees, which appear on our power bill.

The underlying issue becomes—what good is a municipal utility that does not see itself as responsible to its customers? And why should PG&E invest $40M (or more) in "hardening" the line to Palo Alto, if Palo Alto is not willing to pay for, or at least share, these costs?

Anyone who believes that they don't pay for everything that they buy, or consume, needs to take a course in economics. In this case, the PAU, with virtually no input from the City Council, has failed to do something about reducing the vulnerability of its access to electricity—making it as culpable as the actual owner of the transmission line, PG&E.


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Posted by Big-Mistake
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 14, 2014 at 12:18 pm

> this is a good thing, negatives will be worked out

This airport has been in existence since the 1930s in the baylands. It has almost never shown a profit—and has been a drag on Palo Alto's budget for most of that time. If it has not been viable for the last 80 years—what makes anyone believe it can ever be viable?


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Posted by Jetman
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 14, 2014 at 12:24 pm

Big,

"Emails show PG&E and regulator (PUC) have illegal, unethical relationship"
Mercury News ~ July 29, 2014 Web Link


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Aug 14, 2014 at 12:27 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"and has been a drag on Palo Alto's budget for most of that time."

Please show any Palo Alto City budget prior to 2012 that allocated a penny to KPAO.

And during that entire period Palo Alto derived income from the airport in terms of sales tax and unsecured property taxes on the aircraft based there.


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Posted by Peninsula Commuter
a resident of another community
on Aug 14, 2014 at 12:43 pm

Big-Mistake,
There is a lot of misinformation in your post. First of all, the $40 million cost for the new transmission line would not be paid by PG&E, but would be shared by Stanford University and Palo Alto as they are the beneficiaries of this project. Palo Alto's share would come out of Utility reserves. The line would NOT be run underwater by the way as it would be crossing Stanford land.

This is an active project - it requires approval of CMRs, and CMR approvals are in the Council minutes if you would make the effort to search for them.

I can tell you from personal experience that projects like this have oversight from the Council AND Utilities Advisory Committee, and sometimes the Finance Committee. Are you saying Utilities should have CPUC oversight? Why would you want that? Palo Alto has lower electric rates, and higher gas and electric reliability than surrounding communities served by PG&E (see April 2010 UAC Minutes).

Remember the San Bruno pipeline explosion happened under CPUC "oversight". Nothing like that has happened on Palo Alto's gas system. It is easy to make a case that Council and UAC do a better job of oversight that the CPUC.


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Posted by boscoli
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 14, 2014 at 6:10 pm

"Please show any Palo Alto City budget prior to 2012 that allocated a penny to KPAO". The airport land which is worth tens of millions of dollars, if not more, has been given to the airport free of charge for decades. You do the math.


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Posted by Jetman
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 14, 2014 at 7:18 pm

Boscoli has a really good point. The airport could never payback the value of the land it was given free of charge. The airpost also needs to account for the hidden costs to the health and welfare of Palo Alto residents due to the noise, and air pollution that could have been mitigated if Palo Alto's ability to control airport operations had not been "sold" in exchange for FAA AIP money.

"Airport Noise Linked to Heart Risk"
NYTimes ~ October 8, 2013 Web Link


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Posted by southbayresident
a resident of another community
on Aug 14, 2014 at 7:31 pm

@Jetman,

Yes, that 'One day of air traffic over Palo Alto' link demonstrates quite a congested mess but I find it hard to be too sympathetic to Palo Alto when it proudly proclaims itself the poster child of High Speed Rail opposition and SF Bay Area to southern CA is the busiest flight corridor in the nation.

Making matters worse will be that subscription based executive flight services that may transform PAO into a quasi-commercial airport. A fair amount of that air traffic would be reduced if a reasonable alternative was allowed to exist. Remember, HSR runs on electricity, not leaded gas or diesel.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Aug 14, 2014 at 8:04 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

""Please show any Palo Alto City budget prior to 2012 that allocated a penny to KPAO".

Silence because the city never spent a penny on KPAO. None of the the public amenities ( parks, pools, fire stations etc.) in Palo Alto have never been charged for their land use.


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Posted by less is more
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 14, 2014 at 9:00 pm

Peter Carpenter,

"the city never spent a penny on KPAO. None of the the public amenities ( parks, pools, fire stations etc.) in Palo Alto have never been charged for their land use."

The airport is not exactly "public" when very few people can afford airplanes. It's also odd that this amenity pollutes the air and is more of a public nuisance.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Aug 14, 2014 at 9:07 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"The airport is not exactly "public" when very few people can afford airplanes."

Actually very few of the users of KPAO actually own an airplane. The vast majority of users are members of the various flying clubs at the airport and they rent airplanes by the hour.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Aug 14, 2014 at 9:12 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Here is info on the largest flying club at KPAO - note "West Valley Flying Club has helped more than 10,000 members either get their first license or experienced pilots get checked out in the plane of their choice."

About WVFC
West Valley Flying Club has been operating for 40 years. Since we've been around for 4 decades, we have an incredible amount of valuable experience that we can all share together. There are other clubs in the area, but none come close to West Valley in terms of the experience we've accumulated over this time period.

West Valley Flying Club holds our CFIs and members to the highest quality standards. This is reflected in our recent safety record. In turn we are rewarded with some of the best insurance coverage in the industry. The same is true for our own maintenance department that maintains the majority of our fleet to the highest quality standards. We don't cut corners because first and foremost we're a safe non-profit flying club and not a business trying to make a profit.

The diversity of our club is reflected in many different ways. We have a wide selection of aircraft, based at different airports. We have a wide range of instructors, one of whom is sure to meet your needs and become a part of your experience here. We offer a multitude of events, programs, seminars, and fly-outs. There is always something going on.

What really makes West Valley Flying Club unique is our organizational structure. We're a California 501c(7) non-profit club. We are a member driven organization. Members choose to put in time and effort to make the club better. A board of 7 directors, 6 of which are elected by the membership, drives the direction of the club. It promotes diversity, open thinking, and doesn't allow any one person or faction to control the club. It's one of the main reasons we continue to thrive after 40 years of existence.

West Valley Flying Club has helped more than 10,000 members either get their first license or experienced pilots get checked out in the plane of their choice. We truly have been making your dreams of flight a reality since 1972."


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Posted by less is more
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 14, 2014 at 9:18 pm

OK Peter, same thing - few people can afford to rent planes by the hour.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Aug 14, 2014 at 9:23 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

myth - "few people can afford to rent planes by the hour. "

vs reality "more than 10,000 members either get their first license or experienced pilots get checked out in the plane of their choice." And that is just one of the KPAO flying clubs.


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Posted by Jetman
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 14, 2014 at 9:31 pm

Southbay,

Palo Alto has not "proudly proclaimed itself the poster child for HSR opposition". Palo Alto is generally very supportive of transportation that would reduce carbon, but currently is divided on HSR. People who live close to the proposed HSR line are understandably concerned.

The construction of the National Interstate and Defense Highway system precipitated urban blight in many urban areas. San Francisco wisely prevented highways 280 and 101 from cutting across San Francisco.

If HSR is truly a benefit to the communities served (and I believe it is), then those communities would be wise to take advantage of Palo Alto's recalcitrance, by encouraging HSR to route up the east side of the bay to Oakland. Oakland could use the economic boost.

Palo Alto currently hosts more aircraft-miles of air traffic than any other city in the SFBA Metroplex. 50% of SFO bound traffic cuts through Palo Alto airspace, and the Reyes route from the north (also called the "teardrop") does a full 180 degree u-turn over Palo Alto, to orient for a northwesterly approach to SFO's runway 28.

One day track of air traffic over Palo Alto: Web Link


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Posted by Craig Laughton
a resident of College Terrace
on Aug 14, 2014 at 9:39 pm

I agree with Peter. I got my VFR and IFR ratings through WVFC. I am not rich, and I decided where I wanted to spend my discretionary income. It was a great experience! Many good family vacations, like Death Valley and Catalina...all relatively low cost, because we camped out or went cheap once we got there.

PAO is a great opportunity for smart growth in Palo Alto.


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Posted by less is more
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 14, 2014 at 9:43 pm

Peter Carpenter,

I'm not sure you can label an opinion as myth.

In my opinion, renting airplanes by the hour, or owning them is not a public amenity.

Yes it's for a certain type of public, but it's not like a park or a pool.

How may women are in those 10,000 by the way. It's probably mostly guys.


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Posted by Jetman
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 14, 2014 at 10:34 pm

Peter,

Your description of the West Valley Flying Club reads like the voice over for the 1962 Worlds Fair. General aviation proponents are holding on to the "50s-"60s fantasy world of their youth. General aviation has been in decline for 40+ years.

While flying clubs can make flying affordable for some, the real problem is, our society has changed. Most people no longer have the time, or energy, left at the end of the week to take on flying as a hobby. The millennials aren't even interested in driving, let alone flying, and are more than satisfied by the experience of flying at the controls of a flight simulator.

The supporters of general aviation are their own worst enemies. By desperately hanging on to their 1950s dream, they have sheltered general aviation from the evolutionary forces that could have shaped it into something that might have survived into the 21st century.

The coming onslaught of commercial surveillance drones will be the final nail in general aviation's coffin. The FAA is going to throw the GA pilots under the bus.




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Posted by boscoli
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 15, 2014 at 6:14 am

The airport could never afford to operate if it had to lease the land at market value. It's not a city park that's used by mostly residents for free. It serves largely non residents who are subsidized by us, although some of them are quite rich. In a small city where real estate is so scares and horribly expensive, a large swat of land is given, rent free, to a highly polluting operation that serves mostly non residents.


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Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 15, 2014 at 6:32 am

@Boscoli,

You've described University Ave and Embarcadero perfectly. Not a bad fit for the golf course either.

Serves mostly non-residents. Check.
Large swath of land. Check.
Rent free. Check.
Some users are quite rich. Check.
Highly polluting. Check.

Shut them down immediately!


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Posted by boscoli
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 15, 2014 at 9:00 am

University Ave and Embarcadero are traffic arteries. If they are closed down, a traffic nightmare would ensue. The airport is used by relatively few. mostly as a subsidized hobby, and even fewer would be impacted if it is closed down and the public's quality of life would improve. Wrong equivalency. Try again.


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Posted by Big-Mistake
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 15, 2014 at 9:13 am

> "Emails show PG&E and regulator (PUC) have illegal, unethical relationship"

No relevance to the discussion.

Please stick to the poiint.


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Posted by Big-Mistake
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 15, 2014 at 9:33 am

> ""Please show any Palo Alto City budget prior to 2012 that allocated a penny to KPAO".

For starters—Peter Carpenter has no understanding of the Palo Alto Budget, or how money is NOT shown in the Budget. There are services that have been provided the Airport that are not directly line-itemed in the budget—largely because the airport has been under County control. Services like Police, Fire, and other safety related activities relating to the levees.

Every time there is a crash, or theft at the airport—the City of Palo Alto, not the Santa Clara County public safety authorities has responded. The dollars that provide for these services come out of the Palo Alto General Fund. There have been many incidents involving pilots and the City over the years—all of the Staff time to handle these problems comes out of the City Budget.

Let's look at a real airport-related expense that did not make it into the budget--
----
P.A. BLAMES TOXIC SPILL ON OIL FIRM 3 AIRPORT FUEL TANKS INSTALLED 30 YEARS AGO
San Jose Mercury News (CA)
December 26, 1989
Author: LISA LAPIN, Mercury News Staff Writer

[Portion removed due to copyright infringement.]

------
And then there is the $1 (or so) a year for rent. This is the real drag—lost opportunity for not being able to obtain a reasonable rent for the property, by renting it out to people who are willing to pay for it—rather than the elitists who believe the public has an obligation to subsidize them.

If an honest financial analysis of the airport were to be ever conducted that looked at lost opportunity costs, as well as environmental remediation costs that were never repaid by the users, or previous operators, of the airport—would show a "loss" to the City and the taxpayers in the tens of millions of dollars.

There are many, many, expenditures that Palo Alto makes that don't show up as line items in its yearly budget. Sometimes we find out about these expenditures via the local newspapers, and sometimes—the City hides them very effectively from view. This $300K is on record as having been spent by Palo Alto, but never repaid by the pilots/operators who were irresponsible in the handling of fuel at the site.

[Portion removed.]


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Posted by Big-Mistake
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 15, 2014 at 9:44 am


> West Valley Flying Club has helped more than 10,000 members either
> get their first license or experienced pilots get checked out in the
> plane of their choice.

When one looks at the owners of the planes that crash in Palo Alto-the name "West Valley Flying Club" turns up frequently. It turns out that this "club" seems to be more of an "ownerless business" than it is a club, in the traditional sense of clubs.

If one takes the tail code of a crashed plane, and googles that tail code, frequently the plane shows up as available for rent in a number of airports around California, and Nevada. So--we're left with the question? "Who is the real owner, and how much maintenance is being performed on these planes?"

There doesn't seem to be any one person who is responsible for the airplane maintenance at WVFC, since the WVFC is effectively only a listing agent for people renting airplanes--who live anywhere in the world. The planes may, or may not, be getting adequate maintenance. The WVFC takes no financial responsibility for the use of the planes—leaving all of us under the flight path at the mercy of people we don't know, who don't live in Palo Alto, and who couldn't give a damn about us.

Perhaps the WVFC is a good thing for some, but for the rest of us—it is just an organization that facilitates the use of Palo Alto publicly-owned land for their own benefit, and not the public at large.


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Posted by less is more
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 15, 2014 at 10:41 am

Anonynous,

"You've described University Ave and Embarcadero perfectly. Not a bad fit for the golf course either.

Serves mostly non-residents. Check.
Large swath of land. Check.
Rent free. Check.
Some users are quite rich. Check.
Highly polluting. Check."

As far as I know the golf course does not have fuel or noise pollution. It is however exclusive in the way that the public has to have proper equipment and knowledge to play golf.

University and Embarcadero are critical roads for all Palo Alto residents. It would be unlikely that mostly non-residents use it.

How did it go from an airport not being an amenity like a park or a pool to being as essential as a major thru-way which service hundreds of thousands. It's understandable that aficionados want to defend this awkward amenity, but why go to these extremes of justifying it. What the FAA and the Club has in mind is should be up for discussion. Is this really a Children's Theater type of amenity or a public nuisance and expense, or a major threat to the area from out of control practices?


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Posted by boscoli
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 15, 2014 at 10:55 am

The airport wouldn't be able to operate if it had to pay fair market lease rates. It is a white elephant that can survive only because of operating rent free. Having such an unnecessary amenity allowed to operate at public expense is as absurd, and as immoral as giving tax breaks to Exxon-Mobile.

Small planes shouldn't be allowed to operate in this country before all AVgas becomes unleaded. Once leaded fuels are phased out, those who want to fly should pool their money, purchase land in remote desert areas, build their GA airports and fly their planes as often as they like.


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Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 15, 2014 at 11:37 am

It's kind of amusing to watch the arguments go by. I think we understand that boscoli, lessismore and a few others don't like the airport. But rather than simply saying, "I don't like the airport", you say, "Shut down the airport BECAUSE it does this or that bad thing." Then when it turns out other facilities do the same bad thing (land use, pollution, use by non-residents), you say, "Well sure they do the same bad thing, but the airport is categorically different."

So say how it's categorically different! Perhaps the reasons you think it's categorically different are true and perhaps they're false, but we can't discuss them rationally if we don't know what they are. You surely don't believe that every city facility and service has to generate fees to pay for its own land use (4500 acres of parks, here we come. Watch out horse and mountain bike trails because those things aren't cheap).

Just saying, "It's a hobby that uses gas, makes noise and is dangerous" doesn't distinguish flying from 1000 other things that are subsidized: roads for motorcycles and cars, motorboat ramps, or even driving to the shopping center or the golf course (which uses its share of fertilizer, water and gasoline). Can't say if you two are part of it, but some local people complain about bicycles on the road that DON'T make noise, use gas or expose most other road users to any hazard. Is your core argument that the only "normal" behavior is driving a smaller than Chevy Suburban car to Safeway to pick up a package of Rancher's Reserve burgers?

There's just an underlying sourness to this discussion. Rather than saying "Here's a great amenity we can add to our list of parks, open space, libraries, art centers, schools, adult education, recreational programs, golf, community spaces…" you are saying "I don't like the variety and richness of experience that's available to all of us." That's sad!


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Posted by Jetman
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 15, 2014 at 12:42 pm

Anonymous,

I would like to see PAO survive as a model for how general aviation can coexist in a residential environment, but the airport proponents are their own worst enemies. The legitimate issues raised by Biscoli, and others, must be addressed if PAO is to survive...

Noise
Pollution (especially lead)
Public benefit
Finances

The technology exists to solve these problem, but the aviation community need to stop pretending these issues don't exist. The biggest impediment to solving these problems is the 1950's culture of the aviation community, and the FAA's moribund, Soviet-style control, that is stifling progress.

The only reason we are still troubled by leaded-avgas is because the FAA refused to phase it out 40 years ago, and will pull the AIP grants of any airport that refuses to sell it. Unleaded mogas has been FAA approved for aircraft since the 1980s.

Same thing with curfews. A curfew (with exemptions for emergencies) seems like a perfectly reasonable compromise to reduce noise in an residential area, but if an airport tries to impose a curfew, the FAA will threaten their AIP grants.


"Mogas: The Great Missed Opportunity"
AVWeb ~ October 6, 2013 Web Link


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Posted by Craig Laughton
a resident of College Terrace
on Aug 15, 2014 at 2:05 pm

>How may women are in those 10,000 by the way. It's probably mostly guys.

When I was at WVFC, some of my instructors were women. There were also quite a few women pilots. Should it make a difference?

Regarding land use issues, I never use public swimming pools, anymore, and rarely use public parks, and never go to a public library, etc., etc.. Yet I am forced to be taxed for their use by others...doesn't bother me...it makes for a vibrant and happier town.


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Posted by Jetman
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 15, 2014 at 2:30 pm

"Atherton community rebuilds plane-crash victim's home"
Palo Alto Weekly ~ August 15, 2014 Web Link


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Posted by less is more
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 15, 2014 at 3:46 pm

Anonymous,

"There's just an underlying sourness to this discussion."

I initially tuned into the noise about the airport because of the noise that I perceive from airplanes. Plenty of threads on the noise topic, so going back to the airport.

It was news to me, and appreciate Jetman and others' postings, to learn that leaded fuel is still used by airplanes. Something that airport cheerleaders never brought up, and only now are jumping on the "let's get rid of it" bandwagon. But then quickly want to move into the fun, recreational and amenity aspects of the airport. One sentence is about leaded fuel, and a lecture follows about apple pie.

Calling everyone sour is a way to bully and close the conversation. I can see how decades have gone by with people in the know deflecting to have leaded fuel. I have some questions.

Is leaded fuel cheaper?
Why not outlaw it immediately?
Why can't the airport decide what fuel it sells?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by boscoli
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 15, 2014 at 5:06 pm

Leaded fuel had been phased out in the US in 1996, because even the energy companies didn't deny anymore the horrid health hazard it presents. Yet, in 2014, nearly 20 years after leaded fuel was phased out, Palo Alto allows small aircraft using leaded fuel to spray it generously into our air, water, soil, plants and the blood stream of children, adults and animals. Further more, the city council is "thrilled" to accept management of the airport and increase the number of landings and takeoffs, i:e increase the volume of lead particulates in our bodies and environment.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 15, 2014 at 7:11 pm

@Less

Sorry if you feel bullied.

Leaded fuel is not cheaper. Leaded aviation gas averages $2 to $3 per gallon more expensive than unleaded motor gas. Everyone wants a replacement. So what's the hangup?

Under federal law a pilot can only use fuel the manufacturer authorizes. That's a safety rule. A few planes have been legally converted to burn motor gas, but not many. The planes authorized to burn motor gas are NOT authorized to use gas blended with ethanol like the California E10 CARB-mandated blend.

If you ban the sale of leaded aviation gas then the fleet is legally grounded. There's no direct substitute in the approval pipeline. If you said, "Let's ban leaded aviation gas on January 1, 2026," you might find a lot of support for that idea. Some planes would get converted to unleaded gas (if they solve the ethanol problem). For substantially more money some planes would get converted to diesel, jet, or possibly even electric motors. Some planes would fly for 12 more years and then get scrapped.

For autos the 25 year lead phaseout started in the 1970s and finalized in 1996. California started banning lead hunting ammunition in 2007. Final ban is scheduled for July 2019. Lead paint was banned in 1977, but non-lead paint was already widely available.

If leaded fuel is your concern, there's common ground.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by dowe
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Aug 15, 2014 at 9:28 pm

Will Palo Alto hire new staff to manage the airport, and then pay their pensions too?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Jetman
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 16, 2014 at 10:42 am

Santa Monica Airport is an interesting case study of how the aviation industry uses the FAA and AIP grants to control a municipal asset:

"Council Puts Measure to Keep Local Control of SMO Airport on Nov Ballot"
Santa Monica Next ~ July, 2014 Web Link

The article's comments section has a link to Templehofer Airport in Berlin. The airport was shut down and turned into an natural open space. The runways were left in place in case they might be need in an emergency, and serve as a place for recreational bicycling through the open space.

Tempelhofer Airport Webpage: Web Link


 +   Like this comment
Posted by less is more
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 16, 2014 at 7:14 pm

from the article about Santa Monica airport posted above,

"The decision to include the component about voters deciding the future uses of the airport land came in large part due to the fact that the Aircraft Owner and Pilots Association (AOPA) has advertised its initiative as an anti-development measure."

Peter Carpenter,

Why doesn't AOPA use their political organizing to get rid of lead?

By the way, I notice there is an Aviation Museum off of 101 in San Carlos with education programs which I find ironic given that the big education that is missing is getting rid of leaded fuel which impairs education.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by resident 1
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Aug 16, 2014 at 8:08 pm

Since you all brought up the Santa Monica Airport the history is that it was originally McDonnell Douglas Corporation. There were areas where aircraft wings were being built, and a separate section for the development of the space program. This facility was eventually closed down and moved to Huntington Beach, CA to a new facility for the space element of the business. The aircraft part of the business was located in Long Beach. After the successful Apollo Program the facility was sold to Boeing.

Likewise the Burbank Airport was originally Lockheed Martin Corporation which had successful contributions to the war efforts. Still does.
The history of airports are linked to strategic locations - in this area Moffett Field - where people who are involved can maintain their credentials and flying skills.
The previous generations that put this city together were in the thick of numerous war efforts, and Stanford and UC Berkley were in the thick of supporting those efforts. Guess what - they are in the thick of supporting current efforts. The airport is doing what it is suppose to do - more power to them. Stuff happening is not just in your newspaper - it is in your whole country - especially where the major money markets are located.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Jetamn
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 16, 2014 at 11:42 pm

Resident 1,

Thanks for the perspective. Historically there has been a strategic military component woven into the fabric of major transportation infrastructure projects like the intercontinental railroad, the National Interstate Highway system of the 1950s, and of course, the National Airspace System.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Aug 17, 2014 at 7:53 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"Peter Carpenter,

Why doesn't AOPA use their political organizing to get rid of lead? "

They are:

""Aviation organizations, the petroleum industry, and the FAA are working collaboratively to ensure the aviation community will have access to unleaded fuel that meets performance and safety standards, is affordable, and can be used by the existing fleet with minimal disruption," said AOPA President Mark Baker. "We are pleased with the progress so far and look forward to the next phase."

AOPA is a key member of the PAFI Steering Group, which also includes the American Petroleum Institute, the Experimental Aircraft Association, the General Aviation Manufacturers Association, the National Air Transportation Association, and the National Business Aviation Association.

With the deadline to submit fuels closed, each proposal will be evaluated in terms of the impact on the existing fleet, production and distribution infrastructure, environment, toxicological effects, and cost of aircraft operations. The most promising fuels will be selected for the first phase of laboratory testing, set to begin in September at the FAA's William J. Hughes Technical Center.

From there the field will be further narrowed and the most viable candidates will move on to full-scale testing in engines and aircraft. The goal of this second phase of testing, which will require selected manufacturers to submit 10,000 gallons of fuel each, is to generate standardized property and performance data necessary to demonstrate scalability of production, and support qualification and fleet-wide certification data.

The FAA has set a goal of deploying an unleaded avgas by 2018, and Congress has expressed its support for the program, providing $6 million in funding this year and proposing the same level of funding for 2015."


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Jetamn
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 17, 2014 at 10:37 am

AOPA President Mark Baker said: "We are pleased with the progress so far and look forward to the next phase."

Absolutely disgusting that this $#&% (Mark Baker) is pleased with his progress, when kids are inhaling lead, and the AOPA, API, EAA, GAMA, NATA, and NBAA, all drag their feet to insure their industries experience "minimal disruption".

Oh, and that $6 million per year that the FAA is so proud of spending, is all US taxpayer money. If Baker can drag this out long enough, maybe he can get the US taxpayers to pay for the whole transition... then he will really have something to be "pleased" about.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Aug 17, 2014 at 10:43 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

As noted above:

"For autos the 25 year lead phaseout started in the 1970s and finalized in 1996. California started banning lead hunting ammunition in 2007. Final ban is scheduled for July 2019. Lead paint was banned in 1977, but non-lead paint was already widely available."


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Jetman
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 17, 2014 at 11:37 am

Leaded Fuel Is a Thing of the Past—Unless You Fly a Private Plane
Mother Jones ~ January 3, 2013 Web Link

"Mogas: The Great Missed Opportunity"
AVWeb ~ October 6, 2013 Web Link


 +   Like this comment
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Aug 17, 2014 at 1:14 pm

A diet of Mother Jones explains some of the vituperation on this thread. The thrice referenced article is followed by a link to another Mother Jones story calling all commercial travel in any aircraft immoral due to its exacerbation of climate change. Wherein the erstwhile frequent-flyer author comprehends her environmental hypocrisy and swears off flying for any reason short of family member on deathbed. Is that where we are going with this?

Questions like "Why doesn't AOPA use their political organizing to get rid of lead?" are understandable given that the topic is too boring for mainstream media. Thank you Peter for calmly addressing AOPA's participation in the present status. Mark Baker's page of commentary in the current (September) issue of AOPA Pilot is wholly on this topic. And an additional article identifies the producers of the five unleaded fuel candidate formal submissions.

Nobody is dragging their feet. I foresee a substantial increase in the number of new pilots and the number of general aviation hours flown when an unleaded fuel suitable for the entire fleet becomes available.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Craig Laughton
a resident of College Terrace
on Aug 17, 2014 at 2:06 pm

I think the aviation industry should get the lead out, in a responsible way. But I don't trust anybody who reads Mother Jones, and relies on it for reference material.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by less is more
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 17, 2014 at 2:37 pm

As a random piece of information, if it were not for the post of the Mother Jones article, I would not further investigated that leaded fuel is outlawed in every other part of the world.

And then I would not have learned that airports like Palo Alto are run by aficionado lobbies.

That the fact that it took decades to phase out lead in cars is used as an excuse to still spray lead now.

I'm sorry it's irrational.




 +   Like this comment
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Aug 17, 2014 at 2:38 pm

I still wonder how I was talked into buying light bulbs containing mercury.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by boscoli
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 17, 2014 at 2:40 pm

"But I don't trust anybody who reads Mother Jones, and relies on it for reference material"- Because they should get their news from The Wall Street Journal and Fox.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Aug 17, 2014 at 4:17 pm

@less... -- wondering how you concluded "that leaded fuel is outlawed in every other part of the world."
Indeed that is practically the case for automobiles, but aircraft are still a worldwide work in progress.

Here's a current listing of recent member-reported fuel prices (per liter) at European airports. -- Web Link
100LL = 100 octane low-lead = AVGAS, around $6/gallon at PAO.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Jetman
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 17, 2014 at 4:43 pm

Craig,

I am not a Mother Jones reader (just found the article online), nor do I rely (solely) on MJ for reference material. There is plenty of other reference material available (if you look).

"Aviation last big source of toxic lead in U.S."
Chicago Tribune ~ May 20, 2014 Web Link

"EPA Airport Lead Monitoring Program Update":Web Link


"Mogas: The Great Missed Opportunity"
AVWeb ~ October 6, 2013 Web Link


 +   Like this comment
Posted by less is more
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 17, 2014 at 4:51 pm

musical,

I could not understand your link, can you please list the countries which still allow leaded fuel, and for aircraft?

My comment about the world ban is because when I googled "end of leaded fuel" I got all sorts of hits about how bad it is and when it ended in other parts of the world.

For example, in 2005 "Era of Leaded Gas Comes to an End In Most of Africa" - Washington Post
Web Link

then there are all sorts of articles about the killer aspects - The Guardian
"Killer chemicals and greased palms – the deadly 'end game' for leaded petrol"
Web Link

One leaded fuel name could be different than the AVGAS used here, and some of the bans in the articles could refer to cars. Are there better leaded options than others?

I welcome your expert clarification of what countries still allow leaded fuel to be sprayed around by aircraft. Their communities may want to know it's not good.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Craig Laughton
a resident of College Terrace
on Aug 17, 2014 at 4:56 pm

Jetman,

I support getting the lead out. The issue, IMO, is safety. If an automobile engine goes bad, because of bad gas, it can coast to a stop at the edge of the road. Not so with planes...yes, they can glide some, but the outcome is questionable...often fatal. Put another way, engine integrity is HUGE in planes.

I think there should be a glide path (pun intended) to no-lead. The slope of that curve should be determined by safety, not atmospheric lead levels.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Jetman
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 17, 2014 at 4:57 pm

If leaded avgas is selling for $6.00+ per gallon, I am starting to see why the Petroleum Industry wants to keep on selling it. Taking regular ethanol-free mogas, adding a little TEL, and selling it for $6.00+ per gallon is probably a pretty good business!

"10 Mogas myths"
General Aviation News ~ Mar 16, 2011 Web Link


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Aug 17, 2014 at 5:18 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Jetman - why don't you start a new topic on unleaded avgas as that is not the subject of this topic?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by boscoli
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 17, 2014 at 5:49 pm

The damage that would be caused by grounding small planes using leaded fuel is minuscule compared to the irreversible damage caused by leaded fuel particulates from same planes, therefore, small planes using leaded fuel should be grounded until the sale and use of leaded fuel becomes illegal and those planes are converted to unleaded fuel, which should happen immediately. Unless the issue is forced on them, the energy industry will make sure that leaded fuel is never phased out, and the pilots certainly don't care. if they did, leaded fuel would already be history.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Aug 17, 2014 at 5:59 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

The facts suggest that the risks from lead paint are orders of magnitude higher than those from leaded avgas.

Web Link


 +   Like this comment
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Aug 17, 2014 at 7:02 pm

Sorry if my link wasn't self-explanatory. The first line, EBAW (Deurne), is Antwerp, Belgium, showing 100LL available from BP at 2.50 Euro/liter (as of 16-May-2014). Followed by Brussels, Oostend, etc. The next section is Germany, then Estonia, then Finland, then Britain, etc. 100LL is available everywhere. Private pilots fly to the Bahamas or Mexico or Canada every day -- finding airports with 100LL is part of pre-flight planning.

And my apologies to Peter -- I don't really want to belabor the lead issue, but there are misconceptions and misinformation to clear up while this thread is still unrestricted. I am learning here also. Take Jetman's Chicago Tribune link. Though it looks a little slanted to me, the reporter probably intended to be factual with the data, but the final line on the first page says "Aviation emitted 484 tons of lead in 2011, the last year for which figures are available, down from 74,000 tons in 1980."

EPA figures are a bit difficult to find but this page --Web Link -- gets to an EPA chart (exhibit 2.5) showing the 74,000 ton figure to be TOTAL lead emissions from all sources in 1980. Aviation is included in the lavender sliver, "Nonroad vehicles and engines."

This EPA chart was illuminating to me as it demonstrates how far we've progressed in the grand scheme. When I was a kid, airborne lead emissions were over 200 times the current value. And I suspect I got more lead into myself by chewing pencils. I'll claim that as my excuse for being obtuse.

Avgas now looks like the tall pole in regards to airborne lead. When it goes away, all the airport detractors can go back to complaining about noise and economics while we raise a new generation of aviators.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by less is more
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 17, 2014 at 7:47 pm

musical.

"And my apologies to Peter -- I don't really want to belabor the lead issue,"

You mean the lead issue that Peter doesn't want associated with the airport the city has just voted to take on? Why would there be any conflict about wanting to have something safe, and not polluting from the airport? Many of you agree but then you post about how others are polluting in Canada, as if that makes it ok.

"Avgas now looks like the tall pole in regards to airborne lead. When it goes away, all the airport detractors can go back to complaining about noise and economics while we raise a new generation of aviators."

Economics and noise would also be worth looking at, but no time because everyone is too busy justifying lead. I don't see any numbers except over $1.6 million already going to the airport. I would like to know more about the concerns expressed by Council - "I have some real concerns about it," Kniss said. "This is not a slam-dunk money maker."

I think what this story needs is a follow up, and I would hope more from the City to see if the lead is coming from the friends of the airport. What does Planning say?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by less is more
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 17, 2014 at 7:49 pm

to see if the lead is coming from the friends of the airport.

no pun was intended "lead" as in leadership


 +   Like this comment
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Aug 18, 2014 at 2:57 am

Well, I've put in all I care to at this point. Hope some lurkers, whether pro or con, now have a better picture. The thread views-to-comments ratio is dropping, indicating an audience weary of commenters going around in circles.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by less is more
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 18, 2014 at 9:55 am

musical,

There isn't much to say about anything after you know what the story is on lead.

Less is more


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Aug 18, 2014 at 10:06 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Musical posts -"The first line, EBAW (Deurne), is Antwerp, Belgium, showing 100LL available from BP at 2.50 Euro/liter (as of 16-May-2014). Followed by Brussels, Oostend, etc. The next section is Germany, then Estonia, then Finland, then Britain, etc. 100LL is available everywhere."

To show how uninformed this discussion has become note that 100LL is 100 octane LOW LEAD fuel - NOT lead free fuel. 100LL is the aviation fuel which is being phased out as noted above.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Jetman
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 18, 2014 at 11:58 am

The lead discussion is very relevant to Palo Alto's take over of PAO, because the the EPA has standards, and has been studying lead emissions at GA airports like PAO. So far PAO is not doing very well:

0.33 ug/m^3 (San Carlos, CA)
0.17 ug/m^3 (McClelland, CA)
0.12 ug/m^3 (Palo Alto, CA)
0.09 ug/m^3 (Reid-Hillview, CA)
0.07 ug/m^3 (Gillespie, CA)
0.07 ug/m^3 (Merril, AK)
0.06 ug/m^3 (Van Nuys, CA)
0.06 ug/m^3 (Auburn, WA)
0.04 ug/m^3 (Deer Valley, AZ)
0.03 ug/m^3 (Brookhaven, NY)
0.03 ug/m^3 (Stinson, TX)
0.02 ug/m^3 (Harvey, WA)
0.01 ug/m^3 (Republic, NY)

At 0.12 PAO is very close to the EPA's limit of 0.15 ug/m^. Even a small increase in traffic at PAO could push PAO over the EPA limit, and this limit on growth need to be considered when accessing plans for managing POA financing, operations, etc.

EPA Lead Monitoring Program Update: Web Link


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Jetman
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 18, 2014 at 12:09 pm

And now we have this... it looks like general aviation aircraft operators are not required to carry insurance to cover the cost of property damage:

"Atherton community rebuilds plane-crash victim's home" (see comments)
Palo Alto Weekly ~ August 15, 2014 Web Link


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Aug 18, 2014 at 12:31 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"it looks like general aviation aircraft operators are not required to carry insurance to cover the cost of property damage:"

Wrong -
"GENERAL AVIATION INSURANCE REQUIREMENTS AT COUNTY AIRPORTS
A LICENSEE shall procure and maintain for the duration of the LICENSE, insurance against claims for injuries to persons, or damages to property, which may arise from or in connection with LICENSEE's operation or use of the Assigned Space or AIRPORT. The cost of such insurance shall be borne by LICENSEE.
A. MINIMUM INSURANCE COVERAGE AND LIMITS
Aircraft Liability Insurance providing coverage for bodily injury and property damage with a combined single limit of not less than $1,000,000 per occurrence, including not less than $100,000 per passenger limit.
B. DEDUCTIBLE AND SELF-INSURED RETENTION
Any deductible or self-insured retention greater than $25,000 must be declared to and approved by AIRPORT AUTHORITY and the COUNTY Insurance Manager.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Jetman
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 18, 2014 at 8:13 pm

Peter,

Do you know when the insurance requirements were put in place? The minimum requirements seem a little low, considering the amount of death and destruction that is likely to occur from a plane crash in a residential area.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Aug 18, 2014 at 8:24 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

I don't know when these Santa Clara County insurance requirements were put in place but I think at least 15 years ago.

Now that the City owns the airport they have the ability to increase these insurance requirements on new leases and renewing leases - one of the many advantages of ownership.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Jetman
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 18, 2014 at 11:19 pm

Peter,

So "BIG-MISTAKE" is correct when hes says:

"Most airports require that people housing their planes carry insurance, in case they do damage to the airport. But there is no requirement by the FAA that pilots carry very much insurance—in order to have a license, or to use public-access (FAA subsidized) airports. While prudent pilots might carry more insurance than an airport minimum, there is no requirement that they declare this extra insurance. So, there is no way to know what kinds of financial reserves pilots have when they fly their airplanes into/out of the Palo Alto Airport."

This sounds like just another giant loop-hole to let GA pilots off from being financially responsible for the damage that would result from an accident. If a pilot flies into PAO from an airport that doesn't require insurance, or from an airport that only requires minimal insurance, they are flying over Palo Alto without adequate insurance to cover the cost of a crash?

"Atherton community rebuilds plane-crash victim's home" (see BIG-MISTAKE's comments)
Palo Alto Weekly ~ August 15, 2014 Web Link





 +   Like this comment
Posted by Midtowner
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 19, 2014 at 12:40 pm

The Palo Alto Airport is but one piece in the airspace above Palo Alto. We also get traffic from San Carlos, Oakland, San Jose, and most notably San Francisco International Airport (SFO).

The combination of these airports generates heavy traffic above our town. We are, in particular, the main route for planes flying into SFO from the south, the west, and the north. Most of those, especially the largest ones, transit above our town to cross over to the Bay. They fly as low as 4000 feet above Palo Alto. Some (most?) days, Palo Alto gets 200 incoming flights from SFO. These same planes fly over East Palo Alto and East Menlo Park as well.

Day and night, this generates noise and pollution affecting all residents, especially the younger ones.

There is a group trying to address all these issues. If any of this is of concern to you, you can reach this group at:

veroforyou@gmail.com


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Aug 19, 2014 at 1:43 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

A little levity seems appropriate"

A flying saucer was low on fuel, so it landed by a gas station on a lonely country road.

On its side were the letters "UFO." The gas station attendant was stunned, but his curiosity got the best of him.

"Does that stand for Unidentified Flying Object?" he asked.

"No," one of the other-worldly travelers responded, "It stands for "Unleaded Fuel Only."
----------


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Aug 19, 2014 at 1:45 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"While prudent pilots might carry more insurance than an airport minimum, there is no requirement that they declare this extra insurance"

The same is exactly true for automobile drivers - no insurance company wants its insureds to wave a flag saying how much insurance they carry as that is simply an invitation to seek that amount in a claim.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Jetman
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 19, 2014 at 5:18 pm

Peter,

Unlike automobiles, pilots are not required by their licensing or registration authority (the FAA) to have insurance. In California the state requires insurance of all registered drivers, while the only insurance requirements imposed on pilots are determined by their home airport.

Imagine if the automobile drivers insurance requirements were only determined by the requirements imposed by their regular gas station, or parking garage!

"Atherton community rebuilds plane-crash victim's home"
Palo Alto Weekly ~ August 15, 2014 Web Link


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Aug 19, 2014 at 5:26 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

" In California the state requires insurance of all registered drivers, while the only insurance requirements imposed on pilots are determined by their home airport."

True - so what is your point? My point was that the City of Palo Alto now has the authority to change the insurance requirement for new and renewed leases.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Insurance question
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 19, 2014 at 6:38 pm

Peter Carpenter,

"True - so what is your point? My point was that the City of Palo Alto now has the authority to change the insurance requirement for new and renewed leases."

Would you know how the insurance requirements are at SFO? and how they compare to Palo Alto?

Is there a link to the level of requirements and change over time?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Aug 19, 2014 at 6:44 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"Would you know how the insurance requirements are at SFO? and how they compare to Palo Alto?"

No


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Aug 19, 2014 at 6:44 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"Would you know how the insurance requirements are at SFO? and how they compare to Palo Alto?"

No


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Jetman
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 19, 2014 at 6:53 pm

Peter,

And my point is... Palo Alto can set the insurance requirements on new and renewed leases, but no one else. Pilots flying over Palo Alto and into PAO from other airports, can have inadequate insurance, or no insurance at all, as long as they do not have a lease at PAO. Correct?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Jetman
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 23, 2014 at 11:23 pm

Anyone new to the airport issue will find the comments section of this article very informative:

"Council votes to take over Palo Alto Airport"
Palo Alto Weekly ~ August 12, 2014 Web Link


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