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Pilots' group urges tighter procedures at airport

Original post made on Feb 23, 2010

Acutely aware of the Palo Alto Airport's limited-visibility future, the airport's pilots' and aircraft-owners' group is pushing tighter takeoff-and-landing procedures to show more consideration for East Palo Alto neighborhoods.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Tuesday, February 23, 2010, 7:48 AM

Comments (133)

Posted by Train neighbor, a resident of Ventura
on Feb 23, 2010 at 9:31 am

Who needs the airport when we'll have High Speed Rail?

Time to post a KPAO countdown clock:
2664 days until Sunday, June 11, 2017


Posted by Sheri Furman, a resident of Midtown
on Feb 23, 2010 at 11:49 am

Yet the airport will be a critical component in a larger disaster, providing an entry point for emergency responders and supplies, as well as life-flight helicopters. We need to consider the positive aspects of keeping the airport open.


Posted by Jim H, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 23, 2010 at 12:26 pm

To add to Sheri's comment, let's compare the number of lives saved when critically ill or injured patients are flown into Palo Alto and transferred to Stanford by helicopter, to the number of lives on the ground that have been lost due to the presence of the airport over the past 5, 10, 20 years (uhh - isn't that number zero, or really close to it?).

Then let's look at the number of people in surrounding communities over the same period who have died as the result of car crashes or deliberate violence. Drivers crash cars into houses too, or kill innocent drivers or pedestrians. And, East Palo Alto doesn't have a "Shot-Spotter" system to pinpoint air crashes.

There are lots of ways to get killed or injured living in a congested region such as this. To me, at least, the proximity of an airport is so far down on the list of concerns, that I don't even think about it.


Posted by airport supporter, a resident of Evergreen Park
on Feb 23, 2010 at 12:35 pm

Just want to second the comments of Jim H. We must continue to find ways to make safe use of the airport, NOT find justification to get rid of it. Loss of life like this happening, hurts us all. I have family that was within a few blocks of where the crash occurred. That does not make me want to selfishly eliminate all the good that comes from having the airport available. Please stay calm, think reasonably, and we can make this situation better, IF we really want to do so.


Posted by neighbor, a resident of Menlo Park
on Feb 23, 2010 at 1:08 pm

Palo Alto airport is a safe neighbor for our communities. Its benefits far outweigh its risks. I hope the antis will desist in their scare tactics, but I fear that they will influence people who know little or nothing about general aviation (that means private aircraft, not commercial traffic). We can all mourn the loss of Tesla's three men last week without forgetting how rare such an incident is. Compared to traffic fatalities, fatal airplane accidents aren't in the same league, whether you measure by trip or by miles traveled.


Posted by Anna, a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 23, 2010 at 1:37 pm

It's clear the Palo Alto Airport Association email alert system is functioning full throttle to assist the damage control effort necessitated by last week's incident.

Unfortunately for them, the fact is that the scant benefit to the overwhelming majority of residents cited by our local flying fanatics are vastly overstated and in almost all cases either already are, or easily can be, duplicated at other local facilities like Moffit or San Carlos. (Moffit can handle life flights and helicopter transfers to Stanford for example.)

For most residents, the airport mainly is a source of noisy nuisance and potential deathly hazard. When the precarious financial status of the airport operation is figured in - something that all PA taxpayers are at risk for as PA takes over responsibility for the airport - the case for continued operation of PAO vanishes.

There simply is no reason for the city to continue to operate this playground for the well-off - mostly from other cities - when facing so many other urgent priorities.

Time to start KPAO Count-down to closure indeed. I understand there is a group starting a petition to do just that. I want to be among the first to sign.


Posted by Carlos, a resident of College Terrace
on Feb 23, 2010 at 2:00 pm

The pro airport camp keeps dismissing the anti playing-ground-for hobbyists-and-playboys as people "who know little or nothing about general aviation", which just indicates are weak their case is. The notion that with Moffett so near by this playground is crucial for emergency is laughable. Ask the residents of Woodside, Portola Valley or Atherton, as well as any number of small towns and cities if they feel any less safe because their towns don't have airports. This airport is a bonanza for a tiny privileged minority at the expense of the safety and quality of life of the vast majority. And why exactly didn't the pilot group demand tighter procedures before the latest crash? Their general arrogance was interrupted by the realization that the overwhelming majority of Palo Altans who up until the crash payed no attention to the airport travesty started to pay attention. One last point, the pilot from Woodside was asked several times if he would be willing to have a general aviation airport built in his town. He never responded and don't hold your breath.


Posted by Whine, whine, whine, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 23, 2010 at 2:03 pm

Here we go again, people using scare tactics and trying to paint those that use the Palo Alto airport as the "elite". ANd of course we also have the charge that those the use the airport are not "from" our city. typical of PA residents with their all-encompassing NIMBY attitude and the feeling that their life must never be impacted by anything--ergo the constant whining about noise from Shoreline or noise from SFO etc.
Many residents of PA seem to have a sense of entitlement that the world revolves around them and they come first in everything. That would explain why they have a private park, yet have no problem whining to Stanford about access to it's private lands.
Of course are elected leaders are partially to blame, they perpetuate this myth about Palo Alto being the most important entity in the world.
I say--get over yourselves--the world never revolved around you. Leave the PA airport alone


Posted by Anna, a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 23, 2010 at 2:20 pm

"Leave the PA airport alone.."

Were the Palo Alto Airport "left alone" - without the explicit and implicit subsidies (in the form of a $1/year lease, etc.) - it would quickly fall into bankruptcy. Even the County, which has experience in running general aviation facilities, has given up on it as a money loser.

Let's take the puffing pilots deal: We'll get an appraisal of the airport and its real estate. They pony up the money to buy it from us, and then run the operation without taxpayer subsidy of any kind...and buy insurance for the endangerment to surrounding communities. And if you violate local noise ordinances, you pay the fines just like the working class gardeners do when they run leafblowers too loudly.

"Get over yourselves" indeed. What hypocrisy.



Posted by Kurt, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 23, 2010 at 2:39 pm

Here is an idea I've espoused for many years:let the PAO users make the city a fair market value offer for the land and then run it as a business. Any other option is nothing more than welfare for a privileged tiny minority and in this days of severe recession and hardship for so many, anything else would be obnoxious and vulgar.


Posted by andrea, a resident of Community Center
on Feb 23, 2010 at 2:57 pm

whine , whine, whine, it's actually you who believes that the world revolves around you or the groups of a privileged few you identify with so much. I can't explain otherwise your ultra-arrogant attitude which demands that this group be entitled to the use of a facility which the PA tax payers subsidize at the tune of a $1/year lease. You demand that the land owners just keep their mouth shut and "get over yourself". [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


Posted by Whine, whine, whine, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 23, 2010 at 3:04 pm

"the world revolves around you or the groups of a privileged few you identify with so much"

Andrea--why don't you tell us who this privileged few you are speaking about. Do you actually know the demographics and income of all those that use the airport, that you claim that they are a "privileged" group. Or have you swallowed the NIMBY propaganda hook,line and sinker.

"I can't explain otherwise your ultra-arrogant attitude which demands that this group be entitled to the use of a facility which the PA tax payers subsidize at the tune of a $1/year lease"
Which group are you referring to? Please provide some proof of who you claim is using the airport and why you lump all into a "group".

"You demand that the land owners just keep their mouth shut and "get over yourself""
No Andrea, I demand a rational discussion about this--not a chicken-little approach in which all airport users are lumped into one "elite" group. Where the safety record of the airport is ignored in favor of hysterical demands that ignore the real facts concerning the aiport.

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


Posted by gerald, a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 23, 2010 at 3:57 pm

Whine,etc, you don't really want a detailed analysis of the average income of the PAO user- you will be badly wounded if such an analysis is ever published. Not every user is rich, well, compared to Steve Jobs or Sergei Brim, but even those who aren't, have incomes acceding the national average average by quite a bit, and I personally know a few who are very, very wealthy. Most, actually a very large majority users of this airport are hobbyists, and you won't be able to get from under that one. This is one case of many in which the rich are subsidized by those with less money, a unique American phenomenon of Socialism for the wealthy. [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


Posted by Jason, a resident of Palo Verde
on Feb 23, 2010 at 4:02 pm

I wish I was among the elite. However, I got my pilot's license at PAO about 20 years ago, despite the fact that I live on a middle class income, and I am still working, at age 63, to make ends meet.

I think PAO is a real resource for Palo Alto. It has tremendous economic potential. I also think they (the PAO community) need to make some changes in take off patterns...I have thought this even when I was flying. There is no need to make excessive noise, and even the extremely rare crash over EPA. The 10 degree deflection to the right, off runway 30 (now runway 29, due to magnetic changes), was put in place when I was still flying, and it is not a problem. The recent crash was and is inexplicable to me, because takeoffs, even in the fog, are not a difficult or dangerous thing (landings are completely different). I can only surmise that the pilot did not use standard procedure, even if his engine(s) failed. In order to avoid such issues, going forward, all takeoffs in fog should be to the southeast (runway 11), unless the winds are prohibitive.


Posted by grounded, a resident of Menlo Park
on Feb 23, 2010 at 4:12 pm

Whine & friends: I don't see any of you responding to the perfectly reasonable proposal that the users foot the bill for the facility. The real bill, not the $1/year lease.

Well?


Posted by Carlos, a resident of College Terrace
on Feb 23, 2010 at 4:30 pm

They will not respond to the proposal to foot the bill for the facility because they are the typical OPM bunch-Other People's Money. If you noticed, the Athterton pilot who parks his plane in PAO never responded to the question if he would support building a general aviation airport in Athterton. And they are the ones accusing us of NIMBY!.


Posted by andrea, a resident of Community Center
on Feb 23, 2010 at 4:33 pm

And I am asking again:why didn't the Pilot's group suggest tighter procedures BEFORE the crash. All past complaints about excessive noise, let's set aside safety concerns for now, used to be met with snarky remarks from this group.


Posted by Boris Foelsch, a resident of Palo Verde
on Feb 23, 2010 at 4:42 pm

Would someone please articulate the economic benefits that we get from the airport? I haven't heard any substance behind a case for a continued subsidy. Economics should be the main consideration here.

Not all pilots are rich, and I don't begrudge them their right to fly a plane. However, they are a very small minority.

I sure am aware of the noise from flyovers, however. I consider it a nuisance, though not a major one.

Also, let's consider the effect on EPA residents.


Posted by Jay Rosen, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Feb 23, 2010 at 4:56 pm

Boris, to answer your question, none. The airport is virtually rent free, since it's leased for $1/year. If it were based on economics and the airprort had to show profit, the user fees would be much, much higher. You may or may not choose to call this very small minority a privileged group, but they are certainly getting preferential treatment while most of them aren't even PA residents. In real economic terms, the airport is a money loser.


Posted by Carlos, a resident of College Terrace
on Feb 23, 2010 at 5:12 pm

Smarter people than me could surely come up with ideas on how to use the airport land in ways that actually benefit the community, but just off the top of my head I can think of a few:use some of the land for new police headquarters and some for a free clinic in which area physicians would volunteer their time to treat people who struggle in these economically difficult times, people who lost their health insurance or can't afford it due to losing their job. How about apartments for city employees who couldn't afford to live in PA otherwise, with the Embarcadero shuttle taking them to work and home, reducing the traffic consequences.


Posted by Jason, a resident of Palo Verde
on Feb 23, 2010 at 6:56 pm

I don't think there is an overwhelming advatnage to PAO, from the economic point of view. Not at this point. There is also no particular benefit to the golf course, or city parks. PAO has the potential to be of very significant economic benefit, but that depends on how it is positioned.

I flew for recreational reasons. I am very happy that I did. It was a great experience, and my family really enjoyed our various flying vactations. I do not play golf or tennis, and I do not use city parks. It is just one of the several benefits of living in Palo Alto. Before we start shutting down such benefits, we need to think about how the mix benefits minority segments of our population. For example, I never had a kid in PACT, but I don't begrudge those parents who do. Palo Alto subsidizes PACT to the tune of over $1M per year. Should we shut down PACT?

Palo Alto is special, because we actually do allow certain 'elitist' activities. We want to attract and hold various elites, such as doctors and venture capitalists and professors, and lawyers, even middle class guys like me. We even have our own private park (Foothills), which costs us a lot of money to maintain. Yes, we could develop the airport and the golf course and the city parks, and get rid of PACT, but would that make us a better place to live?


Posted by Bob, a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 23, 2010 at 7:44 pm

To all those who dream of build-build-build something on the airport land - be it condos, office buildings, whatever, please remember that the water table is very, very close to the top of the soil, and it is flood prone to say the least. If anything 'weighty' could have been build out there, it probably would have been. That airport has been there since 1924 when it was moved from the Stanford area, long before East Palo Alto housing went up after WWII. EPA was once called "Ravenswood", and there was some housing there closer to University, but it was only incorporated into the city of EPA sometime in the 70's - can't remember the date.It is part of San Mateo County. And no, Palo Alto didn't 'steal' any land from EPA. You will probably hear that from those with no 'institutional memory' and who want to 'stir things up'. It was acquired way back all above board with consensus by both San Mateo and Santa Clara Counties with final approval by the Legislature.


Posted by musical, a resident of Palo Verde
on Feb 23, 2010 at 8:47 pm

... back when aviators were admired. And thousands of kids wished that they, too, could learn to fly. Everyday people could name a dozen current pilots, Lindbergh, Earhart, Doolittle, Post, Hughes, Byrd...

The Golden Age is gone. In this century people can muster the name Sullenberger, and may be aware that Harrison Ford and John Travolta are avid pilots, but that's about all. Even astronauts are passť. Must be discouraging to be a child today, point at the moon, and have your parents say "No dear, too dangerous, too expensive, and why bother."


Posted by Whine, whine, whine, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 24, 2010 at 6:14 am

Gerald and all others--by all means let's do a detailed analysis of the income of all that use the airport. Let's also suggest that the lease agreement for the airport be redone. Let's also do an analysis on what, if any, benefit the airport brings to Palo Alto. Like I said, let's do a rational study and not this anti-elite, NIMBY approach to this issue.

Andrea:

"And I am asking again:why didn't the Pilot's group suggest tighter procedures BEFORE the crash."
Why didn't we have tighter screening on commercial airlines before 9/11?
Maybe the pilot's group suggestion is a response to an eventthat occurred. Hindsight is 20/20 especially for someone who thinks the sky is falling

"All past complaints about excessive noise, let's set aside safety concerns for now, used to be met with snarky remarks from this group."
Let's see some documentation for this claim.
What are the operational hours for the airport? Are there flights after 10PM for example. What is the basis for these complaints? Also remember that PA residents love to complain about noise and traffic--it is a city hobby--regardless of how many people may benefit.


Posted by Carlos, a resident of College Terrace
on Feb 24, 2010 at 9:24 am

Whine-yes, indeed, let's redo the lease agreement and adjust it to real market value. Let's use the Stratford school lease of the Garland site as a basis. I believe that Stratford pays $400,000, or maybe it's $600,000 I don't remember the exact sum) per year for a much smaller parcel of land. That means that the airport can be leased for millions dollars per year. People like you utter "free market", "nothing is free", "don't expect government handouts" with every verb and noun, so put you money where your mouth is. Let the users pay market value and so the free market system can really work. Nothing is free, remember?


Posted by Whine, whine, whine, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 24, 2010 at 9:29 am

"People like you utter "free market", "nothing is free", "don't expect government handouts" with every verb and noun, so put you money where your mouth is."

Who are people like me, Carlos? How did the airport get the $1/year lease? How long has it been in effect? Does PA get any benefit from the airport that they feel that $1/yer is sufficient?

looks to me that people re mixing the issue of airport safety with other issues---hatred of rich people, assumption that anyone who uses the airport has to be rich, bitterness over a nice lease arrangement.

SO what is the real problem--airport safety or bitterness over other issues


Posted by SP, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Feb 24, 2010 at 10:33 am

The letter mentioned in this article suggests that since no one was hurt on the ground, that jangled nerves was all the damage that was caused in EPA. The lack of injuries was really a miracle. Many people came within inches of debris from the plane or tower going through a bedroom window.

However, there was a WHOLE LOT more damage. I was with a group of EPA residents who met with the pilot's insurance company yesterday. That company has just begun collecting the list of potential claimants, but here is the list they mentioned: EPA residents with damaged property, PG&E, the estates of the passengers in the plane who lost their lives, AND all the businesses and organizations who lost power in PA, including Stanford, the hospitals, schools, etc. They also mentioned that the pilot had limited amounts of insurance. It didn't take us too long to figure out that the money is going to run out quickly, and those residents who did not have insurance, or had insurance that did not cover planes falling out of the air on their property, were going to get the short end of the funds given the size and power of the other organizations making claims.

Yes, the airport is a valuable resource. But last week showed us that its close proximity to a residential area and important power lines makes it an extreme danger to life and property. I don't think the change in engine sounds, or the flight path is going to change any of that.


Posted by Don G., a resident of Community Center
on Feb 24, 2010 at 10:33 am

If we get rid of the airport, where are we going to land our flying cars? Seriously, the airport is benefit to the community, like the golf course, like the dump, like Foothill Park. Not everybody is going to use them, but I'd hate to see the airport go the way of the yacht harbor. As a teenager I took flying lessons at the airport on my own dime from a working-class family. Never got my license, but will never forget my experience and has enriched my life. Aviation continues to improve and progress--more people fly today and costs are so low. If the airport goes, it'll never come back when we'll need it in the future.


Posted by Bill, a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Feb 24, 2010 at 10:36 am

> Yet the airport will be a critical component in a larger
> disaster, providing an entry point for emergency
> responders and supplies, as well as life-flight helicopters.

Web Link

At present, we complete between 600-700 flights per year, going as far as 250 miles to the northern California coast, to Reno, NV, Bakersfield in the Central Valley, and to the central coast at Santa Maria, all from the Bay Area.

History in Photos:
Web Link

Not many photos of the Palo Alto Airport in this lot, but a number of the program's helocopters operating on the Stanford Campus/Hospital property.

Not clear why any flights into/out of the Palo Alto Airport couldn't just as easily operate out of the San Carlos Airport, and reduce the danger of crashes to Palo Alto/East Palo Alto residents.


Posted by Bill, a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Feb 24, 2010 at 10:41 am

> let's redo the lease agreement and adjust it to real market value.
> Let's use the Stratford school lease of the Garland site as a basis

Not even remotely similar situation. Everyone agrees that education is a priority for our society, and so we subsidize it. However, owning $.5M-$2M aircraft to be used most for personal recreation, yet heavily subsidized by the public who receive no benefit from such use of public money .. another thing in general.

If people want to own airplanes, and fly them recreationally .. that's OK .. as long as they don't crash them into people's houses, and don't kill innocent people. Unfortunaly, there are no private pilots that will make such a promise to the people living on the ground .. underneath the airports where they frequently crash their planes.


Posted by Don G., a resident of Community Center
on Feb 24, 2010 at 11:05 am

One more thing...when the power went out that morning, I said to my wife I thought a plane hit the power lines that come across the bay near the Dumbarton bridge. That was before they announced it WAS a plane crash on our battery-operated radio.


Posted by Carlos, a resident of Community Center
on Feb 24, 2010 at 11:08 am

I keep hearing how the airport benefits the public but have yet to hear anything beyond the vague "rural surgeries", something that can be accomplished using Moffett. The myth about its value in case of a catastrophic earthquake is also hogwash. It has one runway, the aircrafts that can use it are capable of carrying only a few passengers and a strong earthquake will probably damage the runway and turn it into nothing more than a parking lot for expensive toys. We already know from SC county that the airport is not profitable, even with this scandalous giveaway for the rich, they don't even want to manage it anymore. We heard from SP, an EPA resident posting above above about serious problem they are having with the pilot's insurance company and that it's unlikely most residents will be even compensated due to insufficient insurance by the pilot. I have yet to understand why the pilots, a tiny minority, expects the public to subsidize their hobby. If any of the pilots owned a rental property, let's say a house in Palo Alto that rents for $$4,000 a month, I can only the imagine the look on his face if I requested to live in it rent free, paying only for utilities.


Posted by lisa, a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 24, 2010 at 1:18 pm

Dear SP or anyone else who may have been present at last night's meeting with the pilot's insurance company -

I'm a writer for the Mercury News and we're trying to wrap our heads around the insurance coverage issue. Could you contact me, either on or off the record? lkrieger@mercurynews.com

Thank you!

Lisa Krieger


Posted by Jason, a resident of Palo Verde
on Feb 24, 2010 at 2:18 pm

"even with this scandalous giveaway for the rich,"

This is the type of over-the-top language that I object to. If I were to follow this type of thinking, then I would demand that Fotthill Park be developed into condos, not to mention Byxbee Park. Don't forget the golf course. Of course, we would defund PACT. I don't golf, use public parks, own a dog, send my kids to public school (anymore), have a disabled kid, etc.

I know three people, in Palo Alto, who still fly, but I don't know a single person who plays golf at PA Muni. I know exactly one person who still plays tennis on the over-abundant tennis courts in PA. I no longer know anybody who has a kid in youth sports, and only one who actually does recreation adult soccer. I know many people who drink too much, then expect me to pay tax dollars to support some of their AA meetings in our public spaces. I don't use public transportation, so what am I doing paying taxes to support it?

If you get the drift, this should not be a stick-it-to-the "rich boy toy" thing argument. Too many of us are not rich, and even if we were, who cares? At least try to apply an equal standard.

PAO is one amenity, among several, that makes Palo Alto a great place to live. It can reasonably be asked to make some procedural changes on take offs, but its existence should not be challenged, unless you are also going to challenge some other things.


Posted by andrea, a resident of Community Center
on Feb 24, 2010 at 2:53 pm

Jason, when was the last time the golf course took out a child care center and only miraculously didn't wipe out scores of children with it? When was the last time the golf course or FH park created the kind of noise and air pollution those small airplanes create? When was the last time the golf course, or FHP damaged houses, businesses and terrified local neighborhoods? Your equivalence is so hypocritical and misleading and that I'm avoiding using some choice words for it only because they will get censured here.


Posted by Alan, a resident of Midtown
on Feb 24, 2010 at 3:16 pm

There are at least two issues on the table:

1. What changes, if any, should be made in how the airport is used for purposes of the safety of nearby residents, passengers, and even the pilots. I think this is of immediate concern, particularly with regard to conditions requiring flying by instruments.

On the other hand, I am unaware of any other incident in which there has been death or injury to nearby residents or serious damage to their property caused by the airport in its more than 80 years of operation. I could be mistaken.

2. Whether or not local governments' funds should be used to pay for the airport. This is an issue that should be dealt with fairly and thoroughly, as there are many sides to this issue.

I believe the airport is a valuable resource. I think its presence helps attract business and business people to the area. Also, I personally like observing the activities at the airport, watching take offs and landings, etc., while walking along its perimiter.

The question is, however, one of cost versus benefit to our communities. This needs to be studied.


Posted by Jason, a resident of Palo Verde
on Feb 24, 2010 at 3:48 pm

andrea,

I think one needs to look at the overall situation. Many motorists and bicyclists have been injured going up and down Page Mill Road, to Foothiils Park. The automobile trip up there, and back, creates a lot of pollution. The maintenance costs to the city are much higher than those of the airport, thus far. There is very little upside economic potential to FH Park...who comes to Palo Alto for that park? It is a local elitist thing.

I will now ask a rhetorical question, since you have brought up some scare tactics: Have more EPA or PA ground level residents died in plane crashes, compared to the number that died in Ted Kennedy's car at Chappaquiddick? How many people have died in gang violence in EPA and PA, compared to the number from plane crashes (on the ground) in EPA or PA? How many people have been jacked, with guns, on the PA golf course? How many people have been terrorized at Baylands Athletic Center? I am willing to bet you that plane crashes, from PAO, finish last in all these categories.


Posted by sarlat, a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 24, 2010 at 3:57 pm

I don't believe that this particular airport serves any valuable purpose. The airport allows corporate types to get in and out of here in a manner they like to travel and hobbyists and thrill seekers to indulge. The issue is whether we should subsidize their desires. Would corporate types avoid investing in this area unless they get to fly in and out in small airplanes using this particular airport? I doubt it. Unlike parks, schools and libraries, this airport doesn't serve any communal purpose, so if we decide to keep it, we should apply real market rates to its use. Want to keep your airplane here, how does $100,000 a year sound? Sounds good to me. And of course, I demand strict adherence to safety and noise abetting rules, with violators heavily fined and losing their airport privileges. No landing or take-offs before 8am or after 8pm. Under this parameters I'd be willing to consider keeping this airport.


Posted by Jason, a resident of Palo Verde
on Feb 24, 2010 at 5:45 pm

sarlat,

How about: If you want your kid to be in PACT, then pay for it! The overall costs, as subsidized by the Palo Alto budget is over $1M. This means that if there are 1000 kids served by this project, then each kid needs to pony up for $1k. Same thing for youth sports on our city parks. Imagine what the market price is for those fields. Greer Park, for example, could be developed with a great monetary return to our city coffers. Heck, Byxbee Park, which is less used than the airport, could generate tens of millions of dollars...why are we saving it for the birds? We could at least put a major recylcing plant there. Speaking of libraries, why are wasting money on them, in the age of the Internet?

BTW, I do not know a single pilot who is a "thrill seeker". That is a cheap shot.

And on and on....


Posted by sheesh, a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 24, 2010 at 6:59 pm

You're best argument for keeping Palo Alto Airport open really is "because the children theater get a subsidy"?


Posted by Anon., a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 24, 2010 at 9:43 pm

I seem to recall several light plane crashed around the Bay in the last years, these incidents are not so rare. And so what if they were, crashing into power towers and houses is just pure luck that no one living underneath was hurt. The cost of more of these incidents is too high, and the cost of the airport as compared to what the Bayland area could be recreationally is too high as well.

As long as the airport is there and operational there really can be nothing useful out by the Bay. The noise level is just too high to carry on a conversation with someone right next to you. These small planes routinely fly over Palo Alto as well.

No, we do not know what caused the crash, but look at a map of the airport, and where it points relative to where the crashsite was? The pilot would have had to take a very sharp left turn over the city instead of the obvious right turn at the end of the runway to head out over the Bay?

This was a supposed very experienced pilot with 1000+ hours of flying experience, rated to fly by instruments ... so what was he doing over the city, flying at the level of the power towers ... in the wrong place, at the wrong altitude with the wrong heading?

The rich pilot crowd just seems to think they are chartered to fly over our heads and on occasion crash their planes if things go wrong, and that is our of cost them doing business.

An airport in Palo Alto makes no sense. What does make sense are some recreational facilities and natural areas that allow us to appreciate our Bay, not have to steer clear of it because it is so industrial, noisy, stinky, and off limits to actually people.

I am sitting here typing this at 9:39pm Wednesday, and there is a small plane flying overhead as I type this.

This does not even mention that large jets that fly over the city at night and that rattle doors and windows. By the time you wake up from your deep slumber the plane is gone and you think nothing of it, except that you have had the quality of your sleep lowered by planes flying over civilian areas when they could just as well fly over the Bay.


Posted by sarlat, a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 25, 2010 at 7:04 am

So you compare services for children, parks that enhance the entire community's quality of life and beautify the city and libraries that serve the entire community to a subsidized airport that is a constant source of extreme noise pollution and perpetual danger, serving a few, most of whom not even Palo Alto residents? Was this your best shot?


Posted by Liz, a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 25, 2010 at 7:19 am

I don't believe there's one good reason to have an airport so close to residential neighborhoods, it's a major tragedy waiting to happen. The question is not if, but when. I am also terribly unconvinced by the attempts to explain how the community has benefited from the airport. I don't think my 5 year old would buy them. The discussion shouldn't be whether we should keep this white elephant, but how fast we can we shut it down. Setting aside this argument for a moment, I'd like the pilot's group and perhaps the airport's management to explain to us all why the use of the airport wasn't contingent on every pilot carrying comprehensive insurance in case of catastrophic crashes in the adjacent residential neighborhoods.


Posted by petercarp, a resident of Atherton
on Feb 25, 2010 at 7:23 am

petercarp is a registered user.

Liz asks:"why the use of the airport wasn't contingent on every pilot carrying comprehensive insurance in case of catastrophic crashes in the adjacent residential neighborhoods. "

All airplanes which are based at the Palo Alto Airport are required to carry 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.


Posted by George, a resident of Midtown
on Feb 25, 2010 at 9:04 am

I was doing some research on taking-off in dense fog, the type we had on the morning of the crash. I also discussed the issue with a retired commercial airline acquaintance of mine. Apparently, the main danger is actually that once in the air, if any mechanical breakdown occurs and landing is required, the pilot is pretty much blind and can't land. This is to my understanding the reason why commercial flights are grounded when we get the infamous Tule fog. Just from monitoring the discussions here since the crash, I don't see much change in the brouhaha attitude of many flight enthusiasts as far as taking off in dense fog which makes me very, very concerned.


Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 25, 2010 at 9:31 am

A couple more points of my own.

When Palo Alto Airport was built there were no dense neighborhoods nearby. A better question to ask is why build dense neighborhoods so close to an airport in the first place?

Secondly, small airports are successful because they are situated near to the communities they serve and to prove that point we can see two very busy small airports relatively close to each other, namely Palo Alto and San Carlos. To think that one of these could suddenly take on the work of the other would be the same as saying that Midtown Safeway should close and Piazzas can take the slack, or all the restaurants in Cal Ave should close and University Ave could take their place, or wait for it, all the libraries in Palo Alto should close and Main should do instead (which is probably a good idea but not many Palo Altans agree with me). These two airports are both very busy and expecting one to do the job of both is ludicrous.

Lastly, the same arguments could be made about closing San Carlos, but they are not being made. Why do people who move to Palo Alto think that they can come here and then close a decades old institution. If you don't like living so close to what is in the neighborhood, why live there in the first place?


Posted by Anna, a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 25, 2010 at 12:07 pm

"...small airports are successful because they are situated near to the communities they serve ..."

This illustrates perfectly the myopia of the airport supporters. The PAO airport cannot, under any circumstances, be considered a "successful" city enterprise. In fact, despite huge subsidies from multiple levels of government, the County has abandoned its operation of the Palo Alto Airport because of its financial unsustainability.

Resident seems to liken Palo Alto to San Carlos (and implicitly to Reid Hillview Airport, which the County also operates, and is NOT abandoning). But PAO is different: it's a money loser.

Those flyboys who are receiving huge benefits from taxpayers for their joyriding may consider this operation a "success"; but the rest of us taxpayers who freight the bill for these relatively well off denizens of Atherton and other neighboring towns, and who suffer the noise pollution and uninsured danger from their Saturday morning hobby can hardly blamed for disagreeing.

Let's close PAO and let the pilots peddle their warped sense of balance on this issue somewhere else.


Posted by Observer, a resident of South of Midtown
on Feb 25, 2010 at 12:13 pm

The world has changed so much. The population has increased. Back when the airport was built, my neighborhood was an orchard. The benefit of this airport needs to be evaluated against the current situation in which it exists and not simply proclaimed because it might once have been more appropriate. I've been in light planes as a passenger and it was a wonderful experience, but like so many wonderful things, perhaps it has a place, but I have recently come to doubt that Palo Alto is the right one any longer. The main thing I've learned in the last few days is how outmoded and entitled the thinking is of some, not all, of the pilots who use it.


Posted by Jeff, a resident of Greenmeadow
on Feb 25, 2010 at 2:09 pm

Resident, I wonder how you define success. PAO, despite practically being given away for free by the P.A. tax payers for the benefit of mostly out-of-towners who would never allow an airport to be built in THEIR own town, and given various other subsidies, is losing so much money that S.C. County is abandoning running it. I'd consider it a failure, at least economically. Your equivalency of libraries, a source of knowledge and enlightenment that benefit the entire community, don't pollute and don't put others in mortal danger vs. flying airplanes which is practiced by a very small minority largely as a hobby doesn't make sense either. Your snarky argument live-someplace=else-if-you-don't-like the noise could be applied to the white people who came here and committed genocide against the indigenous people-they indigenous were here first and didn't invite the new comers who should have gone someplace else. It's absolutely normal for people to wish to improve their quality of life and reduce danger and pollution where it's possible, and PAO, being too close to residential neighborhoods, too close to low power-lines, a money loser and highly unessential is a perfect target. Just because something existed for many years doesn't mean it has to exist forever.


Posted by CommonMan, a resident of College Terrace
on Feb 25, 2010 at 2:17 pm

Resident

Remind me again why we Palo Altans should subsidize Atherton, Woodside and Los Altos Hills multi-millionaires. When exactly has Athterton done anything for Palo Alto? What is it with the right-wingers nearly religious belief that very rich people should be supported by the hoi polloi? I thought they reformed welfare years ago.


Posted by Jason, a resident of Palo Verde
on Feb 25, 2010 at 2:35 pm

Just to take on a few of the nuggets:

1. The airport is a public facility, just like a library. Anybody can come down there and watch the planes take off, take flight lessons, hire a charter flight, shop in the store, talk to pilots, etc. The real difference is that the city of Palo Alto subidizes the libraries, and punishes the airport (by not allow those changes that allow it to be more financically capable, such as buildiing better hangers). Imagine how much more open to the public the airport would be, if the city subsidized to the same level as the libraries. In fact, in the age of the Internet, why are we still subsidizing libraries? I am willing to bet that our youth would be more willing to have semi-free flights lessons, than to have free access to an outdated structure like a library. Same thing for our youth being enthused to trek up to Foothills Park...they would choose PAO 90% of the time! Times have indeed changed, and our next generation is more interested in three dimensions, not two...they LOVE the notion of flying, even without drugs.

2. If tule fog is the issue on takeoff, I am willing to bet anybody, anywhere, that taking off in tule fog is MUCH safer, statistically, than driving in tule fog. It is not even a close call on this one, so if you all want to lose some money, just let me know. However, I don't think anybody should take off, or drive, in tule fog. In the recent crash, it was not tule fog. Both pilots and drivers could see the 'road' in front of them, at least enough to maintain their 'lane'.

3. Now let me address the recent crash. If the experienced pilot had a medical event, then he cannot be blamed, any more than a driver who has a medical event can be blamed for a car accident. There may well be liability issues, but not blame. On the other hand, if the pilot got panicked, and turned left, or ignored his intruments, even with mechanical failure, then blame can be assigned.

Personally, I am not bitter about Palo Alto supporting things I don't, personally, use. I only wish that those who cannot imagine three dimension were not so bitter.


Posted by gerald, a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 25, 2010 at 2:57 pm

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]
"Anybody can take flight lessons, hire a charter flight". Yes, anybody, especially the youth, which you're so certain are so much into flying and have no interest in two dimensional libraries(what does it even mean?), and will just ask their parents for the money to hire a charter flight. And your great idea is to build even bigger hangers, financed of course by us, so the airplane owners from Atherton will feel even more compelled to park their toys there. After all, we need to support our local multi millioners.


Posted by Anna, a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 25, 2010 at 3:19 pm

"Anybody can come down there and watch the planes take off, take flight lessons, hire a charter flight, ..."

gerald is right on point. Jason's vivid "Let them eat cake.." statement defies parody. So insulated are our local flyboys from the realities faced by the rest of us who pay for their hobby, that they don't realize the extent of their privileged existence. How many East Palo Alto residents, who bear the brunt of the noise and danger of the airport can waltz down to the airport with enough money for flying lessons. (It takes thousands of dollars to earn a pilot's license.) How many Palo ALto residents, who pay the bills for Jason's cloud climbing can (or desire to) charter a plane?

Yes Palo Alto has libraries and parks, which benefit the many, are free to use and are something almost all cities do. But we don't subsidize ocean cruises for Atherton residents or maintain Polo Fields for the use of Los Altos Hills equestrians. [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


Posted by Jason, a resident of Palo Verde
on Feb 25, 2010 at 3:27 pm

gerald,

Ask yourself if our current youth want to spend time inside libraries or up in the sky. I think it is pretty much predcitable that they would rather be in the sky. They can get resource material, formerly only available in libraries, from the Internet. If Palo Alto were to take all monies currently dedicated to libraries, and switch them to the airport, there would be a huge interest, at affordable prices, for our youth to move into the future. Don't forget that passing ground school and a VFR/instrument flight test is mind expanding, as well as character expanding.

The airport does get federal and county support. The county decided to stop supporting it, because the county wanted better hanger facilities, denied by the city. The federal support will continue, if there is local support. I would suggest that we give this support, by allowing more and better hangers, and shifting direct subsidies from the library system to the airport, in order to better support our youth.


Posted by gerald, a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 25, 2010 at 3:51 pm

My kids, who are very adventurous, have absolutely no interest in learning how to fly, although they have been all over the world and flew in small aircrafts over jungles and deserts. On the other hand they use the library for both school assignment and to check out books, cd's and dvd's, and no, the Internet cannot replace libraries. Their friends are very cool, smart and worldly kids, and I don't believe even of them ever expressed an interest in learning how to fly a plane. If you told them they were 2/dimensional because they have no interest in flying, while you are superiorly 3/dimensional(again, what does it mean) they would advise you to get back on your meds. I know that some kids would like to learn to fly, but neither you nor I have any idea how many. Actually, since we live in such an affluent area, you would think that there would be much more interest among youth in flying. [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 25, 2010 at 4:01 pm

The success of the Palo Alto Airport is in the fact that it is used and not derelict. On my treks to the Baylands I see planes taking off and landing every few minutes. I drive past and see the perimeter skirts full of planes. This is how I judge success.

It may be true to say that the airport needs to pay more rent and taxes for take offs and landings could also be argued, just as it may be true to say that they should be allowed to update their facilities. It is also true that improving services near the airport would be lucrative for City coffers.

The airport is there and if it was a surprise to you after you moved here then it is due to your poor research beforehand. Improving a neighborhood usually means opening new amenities, not closing them down. This is the 21st century and flying is much more safe now than it was 50 years ago. The future probably means tightening up of safety loopholes, but it also will include more small planes and more private flying licenses. The normal american assumption that the privately owned automobile is king, is beginning to diminish in the 20 somethings of today as they move into the realms of zipcars and carsharing. The possibilities that they may also take the same attitudes to the skies is within the realms of possibilities.

I am open minded, I can't see many others who are.


Posted by George, a resident of Midtown
on Feb 25, 2010 at 4:07 pm

BTW, because of the aiport's location and ground level, its runway would be among the very first to get flooded in a "perfect storm" or just heavy rains. Instead of being a hub of relief and rescue, plane owners will be scrambling to evacuate their expensive possessions to higher grounds, creating even more chaos and using up essential resources. The same will be true if a serious earthquake damages local roads, as it will surely buckle the runway as well, and the airport will become even more useless than it already is. This is one of the reasons I have a hard time keeping a straight face when the pro airport guys tell us about its importance in case of floods and earthquakes.


Posted by CessnaTwinPilot, a resident of another community
on Feb 25, 2010 at 4:09 pm

Why don't all of you who don't like the airport or the idea of "little guys (and girls)" flying their own aircraft move. You would do better living somewhere far removed from an airport. Not every pilot/aircraft owner is "rich". What about those of you with two, three, or more kids, the large SUV, the million dollar home, etc., etc., etc.. You probably spend more every year than I do to maintain your lifestyle than I do on my airplane, yet you are not the ones that the airplane haters consider "rich", right? People like you, simply put, are why this country is rapidly being drawn down the road of the Third World. Next time I am in the Palo Alto area on business, I will have to make a point of renting a plane from one of the FBOs at PAO, and fly it over your neighborhood (at the legal minimum altitude of 1,000 feet above this "congested" area as required by the federal aviation regulations), thus exercising my privilege to do so, as well as my right to navigate in the public airspace, which you do NOT own. - Regards, Michael S., Ph.D., Consulting Engineer


Posted by Hmmm, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Feb 25, 2010 at 4:15 pm

Thanks, George, for the reminder about the runway getting flooded. I recall helping PA friends get sandbags by the airport and pilots there talked about the flooded runway. I asked about using it for emergencies and their response was that it depended on the conditions of the airport vs the roads, as well as neighboring small craft airports as well as the larger bay area airports.


Posted by gerald, a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 25, 2010 at 4:18 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


Posted by George, a resident of Midtown
on Feb 25, 2010 at 4:32 pm

Hmmm. in case of an emergency like major floods and earthquake, the planes on the ground in PAO will have to be rescued and evacuated. Since their owners are mostly wealthy and influential people, you pretty much know that important rescue resources would be diverted toward that, and I believe that it has already happened a couple of times in the past. So in essence, the only real argument for keeping it in business, namely that it will be an important asset in case of earthquake/flooding, becomes a major argument FOR shutting it down.


Posted by Hmmm, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Feb 25, 2010 at 4:49 pm

I see many people at Byxbee Park, and I am there 3-4 days a week. Not everyone parks there, so one can't judge by the parking lot being full or not.

George, thank you for your comments. As an adult, the people I know who fly in and out of PAO are wealthy. I did grow up with a number of pilots from a variety of backgrounds. I do find their pov about the airport quite narrow and a bit disingenuous. I heard a rumor from airline people I know that the pilot of last week's crashed plane didn't have his instrument rating, but idon't know if it's true. I drive by Beech Street all the time and am very familiar with walking the dukes that run along The Gardens neighborhood. People are traumatized by this event. Students at a local school saw it, many others saw and heard it. I heard the crash and explosion. Just truly awful. I've frequently scanned the horizon to the south as I drive on Pulgas Ave and have found myself doing so even more.


Posted by Jason, a resident of Palo Verde
on Feb 25, 2010 at 4:52 pm

I enjoyed experiencing the skies. Most youth like to get off the ground, especially if they are in control. The issue is that they are not subsidized to make their own choices. Why not provide a choice: Any Palo Alto or East Palo Alto youth is allowed to gain a voucher from the city of Palo Alto or East Palo Alto to help pay for flight lessons? The money will come directly out of the current library subsidy, including all bond support. If you are right, there will be very few takers, and the aviation adventure will be diminished; if I am right, the libraries will go the way fo the Dodo bird. Do you believe in choice?


Posted by petercarp, a resident of Atherton
on Feb 25, 2010 at 5:02 pm

petercarp is a registered user.

Let's not spread rumors ('I heard a rumor from airline people I know that the pilot of last week's crashed plane didn't have his instrument rating") about the pilot's qualifications.

Those qualifications are a matter of public record:
DOI: 5/22/2006
Certificate: COMMERCIAL PILOT
Rating(s):
COMMERCIAL PILOT
AIRPLANE SINGLE ENGINE LAND
AIRPLANE MULTIENGINE LAND
INSTRUMENT AIRPLANE
ROTORCRAFT-HELICOPTER

Clearly he was qualified for both the aircraft involved and for instrument flight.


Posted by petercarp, a resident of Atherton
on Feb 25, 2010 at 5:10 pm

petercarp is a registered user.

He also had these additional ratings:

GROUND INSTRUCTOR
ADVANCED

FLIGHT INSTRUCTOR
AIRPLANE SINGLE AND MULTIENGINE

In my opinion he was an extremely well qualified pilot based on these ratings. I know nothing about his currency or judgment which are also important issues.


Posted by gerald, a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 25, 2010 at 5:12 pm

Libraries are used by all, poor, rich, middle class, able bodies to sick and frail, from small children to very old people for wonderful reasons. Flying is a hobby that will always be practiced by few, no matter what. I know a number of people who could buy several planes but don't have the slightest interest in learning how to fly planes. If you like flying it's fine by me, but you want others to subsidize this hobby for you and the craving-to-fly youth of your imagination, out funds from one of the most wonderful resources we enjoy as a community. And you claim, without any basis, that youth would just rush to learn how to fly if we just gave them vouchers. [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


Posted by Observer, a resident of South of Midtown
on Feb 25, 2010 at 5:13 pm

Jason, I'm in one of the nearly defunct libraries right now. It has free internet, which I'm using, and there are quite a few folks taking advantage of it before it shuts down for good in order to provide funds for the airport. I too have adventurous kids who have no interest in flying. Also, although in the event of a medical problem, a pilot may have had no warning, he did choose to take a dangerous contraption up in the air over countless homes, business, schools, etc., thereby endangering them all should anything go wrong. A person who does this is not blameless when something goes wrong, as he knew the risks before he flew. Just because he was allowed to do so does not make it okay.


Posted by George, a resident of Midtown
on Feb 25, 2010 at 5:26 pm

Jason, I love sailing, I really do, and I want the Palo Alto tax payers to help finance that 3D hobby of mine by giving me a voucher out of the Parks&Recreation Department budget. After all, we don't need parks and we get plenty of recreation from the Internet.


Posted by CessnaTwinPilot, a resident of another community
on Feb 25, 2010 at 6:10 pm

You airplane/flying haters harp on this myth of someone subsidizing one's "hobby". Those folks pay to keep their planes at PAO, as they do at almost every public use airport. They pay for fuel and maintenance, which keeps the fixed base operators, flight schools, and aircraft maintenance shops in business thus providing jobs. They pay a hefty fuel tax on that fuel, which puts money into the federal, state, and local coffers, some of which might find its way to supporting local services such as libraries. You also pay tax dollars to subsidize parks for example. Why is your use of a park more important than my use of an airport? Your value judgement is no more or less valid than mine. You pay to subsidize a highway, which not everyone may use, and those who do may not use to the same extent. There has to be a certain amount of support for infrastructure that benefits the public, including airports. If you were living near San Francisco or Los Angeles International would you also be harping for its closure? No, only you do for PAO because of those big bad "rich" folks flying their aircraft. Since you are so arrogant thinking you (as a non-flyer) are more important, you can expect the pilots and aircraft owners to be so as well in some cases. That crash, regrettable as it is, caused relatively little damage. There were no fatalities or injuries on the ground, regrettably only to those in the aircraft. A house was damaged - big deal. This is what insurance is for. There was a power failure for a few hours. Big deal - the power was restored. You couldn't watch TV for a few hours, so what. Thankfully these incidents are rare because of the great emphasis on safety and risk management that is instilled in pilots from the very first flight lesson. If you engage in constructive dialogue to improve the safety of the airport's operations, you will find that the aviation community is more than willing to listen.


Posted by andrea, a resident of Community Center
on Feb 25, 2010 at 6:25 pm

jason, I just returned from picking up a few books and dvd's I had on hold from one of the branches you are certain people can't wait to shut down. Surprisingly, the library was absolutely mobbed, not one study carrel available. Kids were doing school work, some were meeting tutors, patrons of all ages were checking out library materials, browsing the reference section and doing many other things one does at the library. I thought of walking up to one of the kids and ask him if he wanted to shut the place down and receive a voucher for flying lessons instead but I did,'t want him to pull out his mobile and call mental health services.


Posted by Jason, a resident of Palo Verde
on Feb 25, 2010 at 6:58 pm

"Surprisingly, the library was absolutely mobbed"

I don't doubt you, given that the libaries are almost 100% funded by us city taxpayers, and that they are a haven for the lonely hearts and homeless, even some serious resource seekers. However, if vouchers were to be given out to all those youth (and adults) who could choose between the libraries and aviation, it would be a level playing field, even in two vs three dimensions. It is completely unfair to argue that libraries are used by all comers, rich or poor, etc. , when they are completely subsidized from the public trough.

If you re-read my posts, from the beginning, you will see that I am not opposed to various assets in Palo Alto being funded, even though I do not, personally, use them. What I object to is the notion that aviation at PAO is, somehow, unfair and discriminatory. It is exactly the opposite. A voucher system would be a fair approach to deciding who votes with their own ticket...libraries or golf courses or city parks or PAO.


Posted by Rob Tanner, a resident of Menlo Park
on Feb 25, 2010 at 7:19 pm

Hey, I heard there was a fatal accident on 101. We need to close all highways, they are too dangerous to everyone!!! Let's close all airports too. SFO is an accident waiting to happen, with all those fuel laden airlines flying over houses. You people who want to close down airports are dumber than a bag of hammers.


Posted by sheesh, a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 25, 2010 at 7:46 pm

I thought they'd gone too far comparing the airport to providing the opportunity for an 8 year to get on stage. Now the airport supporters want to use library funds to build hangers at the airport!

Wow! How out of touch with reality can you be?


Posted by Anon, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 25, 2010 at 7:47 pm

Personally, I don't object to the airport being there, although I don't use it myself. I think it could and should pay for itself.

As for the accident last week: I have been within a few hundred yards of this area many times in recent years. Terribly traumatic. I think that airport SOP can and should be changed to disallow takeoffs when visibility is too poor to land or too poor to make a clockwise loop or right turn. The only explanation I can think of for the accident is equipment failure, but, the pilot and passengers might have survived (pure speculation) and avoided the accident if visibility had been better.

Pilots also need to respect that most people just don't like low flying planes over their homes, and make it SOP to never fly over residential neighborhoods except when absolutely necessary-- it is very counterproductive when pilots will state things like "we adhere to all FAA regulations and the regulations allow flying low over your neighborhood" - yes, I have heard such, and it is a sure way to get the airport closed. Unfortunately, many general aviation airports have closed all over the country, and, in my opinion, many of the closures could have been avoided if pilots were more careful regarding the feelings of people on the ground, particularly people in their homes.


Posted by Agree with Rob Tanner, a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 25, 2010 at 7:50 pm

To @George, who said: "Since their owners are mostly wealthy and influential people, you pretty much know that important rescue resources would be diverted toward that, and I believe that it has already happened a couple of times in the past."

Again, source please? Where is the evidence (and not just what's rattling around in your mind) that the owners are wealthy, influential, or that rescue resources would be diverted there first?

Or is this just more blowhard garbage coming from anti-growth, Yoriko-heads?

Honestly, debating these anti-airport people feels like an argument with a bunch of name-calling five-year olds. Never let annoying things like facts and reality get in the way of your small-minded crusade, folks!


Posted by Sky King, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 25, 2010 at 7:55 pm

.....You airplane/flying haters harp on this myth of someone subsidizing one's "hobby".

Yup that's the truth. I look at my pay every two weeks and see my labor, my life, my work, taken from me so people on welfare and say at home and hate on my love of aviation. Put down the remote and get out of my wallet. I need my money for my hobby. Not to pay for your Dubs!


Posted by Anon., a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 25, 2010 at 8:04 pm

Bottom line, flying by instruments in the fog ... what on Earth was this pilot doing veering off into the city instead of out over the bay?

There is no other question I think ??? is there ? Aside from some possible failure, what was he doing.

I still think it is not coincidence that he flew nearby the house of one of his passengers ... I am thinking that the pilot wanted to give the passenger a view of his house, and did not think about the power lines or made some kind of mistake.

In other words, I think he does what a lot of these pilots do, they make unauthorized runs over the city for what is basically sight-seeing purposes - in this case it would mean using very very bad judgement, but a failure of judgement typical of the arrogance of the elite few wealthy who utilize the airport.

Shut the thing down.

AND ... for the clueless who say that San Carlos Airport is no different .. just drive by there some day ... it is on the other side of the freeway and there is not a residential area near it or beside it. The comments I read about San Carlos are misleading at best and out and out disinformation at worst.


Posted by Sharon, a resident of Midtown
on Feb 25, 2010 at 8:08 pm



The PA airport is an asset for Palo Alto, Stanford and EPA homeowners.
It has an excellent safety record.
It will continue.
Planophobics will have to come to terms with reality.


Posted by Rob Tanner, a resident of Menlo Park
on Feb 25, 2010 at 8:22 pm

Hey Anon-
Veering over his passengers house in 1/4 mile visibility??? You truly know nothing about flying. Palo Alto airport is as far from residential areas as it possibly could be. [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


Posted by Jason, a resident of Palo Verde
on Feb 25, 2010 at 8:47 pm

"I thought they'd gone too far comparing the airport to providing the opportunity for an 8 year to get on stage. Now the airport supporters want to use library funds to build hangers at the airport!"

sheesh,

I don't want to shut down anything, but you do. However, if we are going to be in the shut down business, then why not allow people make their own choices, by handing out vouchers. My kids never used PACT, and they only used city libraries when they were forced to go to them by their teachers or my wife. Libraries are pretty much a mommy issue. Teenagers don't like studying in libraries, if there is something more interesting to do. Aviation would be very interesting to many teens, if we would only transfer funds from the library trough to them, via a voucher system.


Posted by Hmmm, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Feb 25, 2010 at 9:04 pm

Thanks, Peter Carp. Wasn't spreading rumors, just posted what I heard in the hopes someone knew more.

Sharon - why is the PAO an asset for local homeowners??


Posted by Anon., a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 25, 2010 at 11:18 pm

Ron Tanner ... go on Google and search for the 1200 Beech St. East Palo Alto, CA, then zoom back and look where the PA Airport's runway is ... is is an extremely hard from the end of the runway to the point. It's maybe a turn of 1/4 mile radius ... I walk and ride my bike out there all the time pal, so cool down, and just look.


Posted by sheesh, a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 25, 2010 at 11:23 pm

Jason, here's another idea. Do what the library supporters did and get a bond proposal together and get it passed by 72% of the residents in Palo Alto. If you're so convinced they're on par!


Posted by andrea, a resident of Community Center
on Feb 26, 2010 at 7:06 am

The Palo Alto voters approved a library bond measure with a 72 percent majority. This for Jason who thinks Palo Altans would rather get rid of the libraries if given a choice, that libraries are a "mommy issue", real men fly planes, play football and never read books. And why should kids use the library to study and expand their minds when they can take flying lessons instead, waste tremendous amounts of fuel and create terrible noise pollution while using vouchers paid with library funds?
Jason, I can tell that you didn't spend much time in libraries and none at all around books.


Posted by Jake Glass, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Feb 26, 2010 at 7:35 am

Every single airplane owner I personally know is a multi millionaire. I'm sure that not all of them are and I know that some pilots pull their resources together to buy an airplane. Even in the heavily subsided Palo Alto airport, owning a plane must be quite expensive-hangar fees, insurance, fuel, maintenance, taxes and any other kind of fees I'm not aware of. To suggest that airplane owners are just average income people pursuing their dream is ridiculous, even when owing a plane with other partners, the expenses are great and require a top or near the top income. One poster quoted a statistic that the average airplane owner makes over $250,000 per year, which sounds about right, although I think it's probably higher, at least in the Bay Area. I don't begrudge anybody their money, but subsidizing top income people is crazy and immoral. I don't think we should have an airport here because of the proximity to residential areas, unlike the San Carlos airport, but we should let the voters decide. Regardless, we should set real market value to the land and force the owners to pay what the market will bear. We should also force the tightening up of insurance, noise and safety requirement. No more show-off low flying over houses nonsense and absolutely no more early and late take-offs and landings.


Posted by petercarp, a resident of Atherton
on Feb 26, 2010 at 8:55 am

petercarp is a registered user.

"Posted by Hmmm, a resident of East Palo Alto, 11 hours ago

Thanks, Peter Carp. Wasn't spreading rumors, just posted what I heard in the hopes someone knew more."

What Hmmm did was exactly that - spreading rumors and he did not ask for more information - "I heard a rumor from airline people I know that the pilot of last week's crashed plane didn't have his instrument rating, but idon't know if it's true."

Hmmm and his 'airline people' owe the dead pilot and his family an apology.


Posted by Hmmm, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Feb 26, 2010 at 9:51 am

No, Peter, the dead owe an apology to me and my community for what happened, as well as apologies to their loved ones for the foolish choice they made which cost them their lives.

Did you hear the crash and explosion? Did you witness any of it? Was any of your property damaged? There is a lot going on in EPA to help these families, thankfully. The fallout - excuse the pun - has been heartrending and extensive, affecting many, many people in addition to the loved ones of the victims.


Posted by petercarp, a resident of Atherton
on Feb 26, 2010 at 9:59 am

petercarp is a registered user.

Hmmmm - you spread an ugly and false rumor about the dead pilot not having an instrument rating, and to now further attack the dead rather than owning up to your error is simply cowardly.

Lots of apologies have been issued to the community that was impacted by this tragedy and more will be forthcoming. And I am personally and deeply involved in all of the outreach to the effected community.

You are not owed an apology, you owe one.


Posted by JM, a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Feb 26, 2010 at 10:59 am

I'm for keeping PAO open. As tragic as this accident is, it's an accident. Life will have no fun nor advancement if we eliminated all risks.


Posted by Jason, a resident of Palo Verde
on Feb 26, 2010 at 12:40 pm

"To suggest that airplane owners are just average income people pursuing their dream is ridiculous"

Jake,

I flew for many years, and I never owned an airplane. I joined a club, which provides for non-rich people, like me, to lease time on owned planes. Mine is a very common route. In fact, most of the takeoffs at PAO are piloted by non-owners. Aviation is not solely a rich man's sport. Neither is golf or tennis.

I don't understand the stampede to shut down PAO. PAO should be developed and enhanced, not shut down. Aviation should be available to the majority of people. It is a great way to connect with people, and to enhance family life. It could be a great way to engage teenagers, if the support was there. Imagine a 14 year old kid from East Palo Alto given the controls to take off, on his/her first lesson? Ya think it might open new horizons? Once these kdis get the bug, they will begin to understand why school studies are important. Instead, we throw a bunch of money at libraries, as if that is going solve serious social problems in the age of the Internet and Amazon. BTW, I voted for the library bond issue, in the spirit of allowing various elements of our community to enjoy our various resources, even if I do not use them. PAO is one of those resources, and it should be valued, not disparaged.


Posted by Bob Flisser, a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Feb 26, 2010 at 1:19 pm

I'm completely on Hmmm's side when he says that the crash victims, or at least the pilot owe his community an apology. Yes, I know that the airport has been there since 1924 but such an airport should never be allowed to exist that close to residential neighborhoods. It's not like the residents of EPA have an option of moving to another place. These are people who are often poor and underemployed, struggle with existential crime issues and are among the weakest in our society don't need any additional oppression. EPA is their home. The fact that such accidents had not happened before is a miracle and a classic 9 lives kind of thing, and I thing this crash was the 9th live being spent and none are left. I'm not even touching the issues of obnoxious noise and pilots flying too low over both PA and EPA. There are absolutely no reasons, none at all, why this subsidy for the rich and for flight enthusiasts should not be shut down immediately and I hope that EPA residents will organize and fight to get Palo Alto to shut it down, for all our sakes. This Palo Altan will be happy and proud to support them in any way possible.


Posted by petercarp, a resident of Atherton
on Feb 26, 2010 at 2:42 pm

petercarp is a registered user.

Bob Flisser (thanks for using your real name) states:"the pilot owe his community an apology."

An apology from the pilot would be a bit difficult under the circumstances. Here is part of what the airport community has done:

1 - Palo Alto Airport Association: As we all know, a terrible tragedy occurred this week with the crash of the Cessna 310 onto Beech St. in East Palo Alto. Our thoughts and sympathy go out to the family of those that died in the accident.

Since the accident, the Board of the Airport Association and the airport community have been been researching best way for us to help those affected on the ground. After visiting with the families on Beech St, specific actions have been identified. We will be trying to arrange use of a truck for one family so they can continue their business, provide cash for a family so they can make rent and buy food, provide money as needed to help rebuild the day care, etc.

A fund has been set up by the Association to help these families. Donations are being accepted through the Philanthropic Ventures Foundation:

CLICK TO DONATE NOW <Web Link;
(Please Note that this if for the Beech St Fund in the designation field.)

2 - Here is the Google Group that has been set up:
The plane crash on 17 February in East Palo Alto took the lives of the three people in the plane, all employees of Tesla, and destroyed a number of homes and vehicles on the ground. The purpose of this Google Group is to facilitate concerned members of the community coming together to provide support for all of those impacted by this tragic event. The group is open to anyone, posts are not moderated and it is up to each individual group member to decide how they can make a difference.
Web Link

Peter


Posted by Anon., a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 26, 2010 at 3:08 pm

A PICTURE IS WORTH 1000 WORDS ... I think this image:

Web Link

This map says it all relative to where the plane taking off from the Palo Alto airport crashed in East Palo Alto.

To get to that location from takeoff that plane had to make an extreme left turn over the city, instead of the normal right turn to head out over the bay.

What is the reason we are not hearing more about this? I cannot avoid wondering if the pilot was engaged in "non-standard" activities.

Since one of the passengers in the planet lived just blocks away the question of whether this was a flyover is not absurd or unwarranted.


Posted by petercarp, a resident of Atherton
on Feb 26, 2010 at 3:17 pm

petercarp is a registered user.

Given the zero visibility there would have been zero reason to attempt a flyover of the passenger's residence. The flight path was an extreme deviation from the approved IFR departure flight path - " fly runway heading, right turn to 060 within 1 mile" - which would have taken the plane in almost exactly the opposite direction (180 degrees) from the actual flight plane.

The following was posted within hours of the crash:
Posted by petercarp, a resident of Atherton, on Feb 17, 2010 at 10:42 am
petercarp is a member (registered user) of Palo Alto Online

As an instrument rated pilot and someone deeply involved in local disaster planning let me provide some early thoughts:

As an instrument rated pilot who has flown many instrument departures from PAO here are my early thoughts:

a - it is too soon and inappropriate to speculate on the cause of this particular crash

b - the condition at PAO at 8 AM would have required the pilot to make an instrument departure using on board instruments to fly a very specific flight path and not relying on any outside visual references.

c - the standard and ALWAYS followed instrument departure from PAO is "fly runway heading and turn to a heading of 060 within 1 mile"

which means fly an initial heading of 310 which would be well to the East of the crash site and then turn RIGHT towards the south bay.

d - twin engine planes require special training and skill to deal with the possibility of the failure of one of the engines - such a failure would cause the plane to want to veer sharply in the direction of the failed engine. If, for example, the left engine fails then the plane would veer to the left UNLESS the pilot took corrective action. ON takeoff when the plane is at full power this problem is much more severe.


Posted by gerald, a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 26, 2010 at 4:03 pm

petercarp, you are always civil and polite so lease indulge someone like me who isn't a pilot. You mentioned "zero visibility" in your latest comment. However, a number of flight enthusiasts, pro-airport posters dismissed any talk of zero visible, stating that the visibility was not zero and that taking off in such foggy conditions were routine and no big deal, which implies to me that they would do it themselves next time they take off in similar conditions. I don't know about you, but if I were living near the airport I would be scared to death of such talk, which unfortunately is a manifestation of the jock/macho attitude of some flying enthusiasts(not you). I am acquainted with a nymber of EPA residents and had been aware for years, a long time before the crash of how terrified they had been of exactly such a crash and how powerless and helpless they felt. I would appreciate your comments.


Posted by petercarp, a resident of Atherton
on Feb 26, 2010 at 4:28 pm

petercarp is a registered user.

Geraled - The NTSB preliminary report states "Instrument meteorological conditions prevailed". The report further states "One witness, who was walking on a levee near the accident site reported that she observed an airplane "suddenly appear from the fog" left of her position. The witness stated that she continued to watch the airplane fly in a level or slightly nose up attitude from her left to her right at a low altitude until it impacted power lines shortly after."

I have attempted to locate precise data form the Palo Alto airport at the time of the crash but cannot retrieve that information on line. We do know that all the commercial flights in the Bay area were grounded at that time which would suggest that PAO visibility was certainly below 300ft and 1 mile. My GUESS is that the pilot probably could see not see more than 1/4 mile at most horizontally and the fog ceiling above him was lower than 100 feet. However, reports from the firefighters tell of having difficulty even driving to Beech St because of the fog. This would suggest that the ceiling was lower than 100 feet and the visibility much less than 1/4 mile.

I have taken off from PAO a number of time in such conditions and I would NOT consider such takeoffs as routine. Under those circumstances I always prepared myself for a possible engine failure and always planned in the event of such an engine failure to flight the runway heading and land in the marsh. On the occasion of my first IFR check ride the conditions at PAO were zero zero and only the very quick action of my check pilot kept me from colliding with the power lines on the bay side of the runway. Needless to say I failed that check ride. After a lot of additional training I passed with flying colors but I will never forget how close I came to a tragic end.

Single pilot IFR is demanding and difficult flying and the accident statistics show that it is not without risk. Single pilot twin engine IFR flying, as in the case of this tragic flight, is even more demanding and difficult. We need to do everything we can to protect the people on the ground from those risks.


Posted by petercarp, a resident of Atherton
on Feb 26, 2010 at 4:33 pm

petercarp is a registered user.

The wonders of the web.
Here is the data at the time of this accident:
7:56 AM visibility 0.2 miles


Posted by George, a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 26, 2010 at 4:53 pm

I was walking my dog on the Embarcadero sidewalk toward the main library at the time of the crash and I remember how foggy it was- cars were suddenly materializing out of the fog and I was very concerned about bikes riding the wrong way on the sidewalk and scaring my dog who gets very aggressive when scared, because the visibility was so poor. I know that commercial flights were grounded at the time. To hear local fliers brag about how it's not a big deal to take off in such conditions is very worrisome even to me who doesn't live as close to the airport


Posted by petercarp, a resident of Atherton
on Feb 26, 2010 at 4:54 pm

petercarp is a registered user.

To put 0.2 mile visibility in context the length of the runway at PAO is 2443 ft or 0.4 mile. Therefore, the pilot of a plane at the south end of the runway would not have been able to see the other end of the runway. And with .2 mile visibility the pilot would not have been able to see the power lines on the EPA side of the flight path as that plane passed over the north end of the runway on takeoff. Those power lines would not have been visible under .2 mile visibility unless and until the plane had gotten within 1100 feet of those power lines.


Posted by sheesh, a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 26, 2010 at 6:43 pm

"Imagine a 14 year old kid from East Palo Alto given the controls to take off, on his/her first lesson? Ya think it might open new horizons?"

This just goes to show how from reality you are, Jason. A 14 year old kid from EPA couldn't afford that first lesson, let alone all the lessons required to get a license.

Look, I'm not against keeping the airport open. However, the sense of entitlement shown by the airport supporters is astounding. Really, what sort of reality are you living in?
Every other "benefit" in Palo Alto you've tried to use to validate the airport gives back to the community. Heck, even PACT has sold out shows all through the summer that anyone can attend and enjoy.

Your approach has been all wrong. Palo Alto Airport is a unique resource. However, it's been turned into an exclusive club. It's way past time to start giving back if you're going to have any chance of keeping it open.

Lets take your original proposal, unless you're willing to sponsor that EPA kid for his/her license then that's not going to happen. However, getting involved with EPA big brother/big sister programs so you can at least volunteer to take some kids up each year is definitely something that is achievable. And something that will live with them for the rest of their lives.

Likewise, offering rides for PACCC/PTA/PiE... charity auctions each year would go a long way to improving the airport's image.

Even having the airport sponsor improvements to baylands would give you something to point to if people start accusing you of elitism.

All we see from the airport is a this closed exclusive club. Look what happened when the city dared suggest that the airport give up some open space to help the city having to cart all the yard clippings down to Gilroy! (Yet another chance wasted to negotiate some upgrade in facilities in exchange for the land - what are you guys thinking?)

The clock's ticking. The airport hasn't made many friends.
Peter, you're doing better but without something visible, the airport will probably close.


Posted by Sharon, a resident of Midtown
on Feb 26, 2010 at 6:59 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


Posted by Jason, a resident of Palo Verde
on Feb 26, 2010 at 7:01 pm

Either VFR flight minimums prevailed, or it was IFR. I was IFR rated, and I simply fail to understand how this happened, unless there was a medical problem, or pilot error. There is no reason for that plane to hit those power lines, where it hit them. The heading and climb rate is such that those power lines are not an issue. Even in a single engine plane, with an engine failure, the local procedure is to head away from EPA, not toward it. It is true that twin engine planes offer an additional challenge, but they also offer an escape route, compared to single engine planes, if an engine fails.

A very common NTSB conclusion is that pilot diorientation (failure to believe the instument panel)is the cause of such accidents. IFR flights should not be taking off in the direction EPA (northwest) but heading southeast (over the bay), unless the wind is prohibitive.

PAO needs to make some reasonable changes, but the notion that it should be shut down is absurd and unfair.


Posted by petercarp, a resident of Atherton
on Feb 26, 2010 at 7:38 pm

petercarp is a registered user.

Jason - please read the preliminary NTSB report and the above posts. It WAS IFR and there WAS a very low ceiling and very limited visibility.

If you are IFR rated you know that the failure of an engine in a twin engine plane at takeoff power in hard IFR is a nightmare scenario. If the left engine in a twin fails a hard left turn will occur. The pilot would have mere seconds to make corrective action. Frankly, I would rather be in a single - as a glider pilot I have made over a hundred 'engine out' landings and they are simple IF you have planned in advance.


Posted by Jason, a resident of Palo Verde
on Feb 26, 2010 at 8:13 pm

petercarp,

IFR means you fly the instrments, nothing else. Failure of an engine on a twin during takeoff is, indeed, serious business, but it still allows a way out (compared to a single), IF the proper feathering is done along with following the instruments. That is part of the training.

I also started in gliders, and I can appreciate what you say. In fact, it is a great way to start, becasue it teaches 'real' flying. Failure of a single engine, in a single engine, tends to limit the choices, thus some direct choices. However, if one is rated in a multi-engine, then one needs to be up to the challenge. There is no way that that plane should have ended up in EPA, short of a medical incident or pilot error.


Posted by petercarp, a resident of Atherton
on Feb 26, 2010 at 8:22 pm

petercarp is a registered user.

Jason states:"There is no way that that plane should have ended up in EPA, short of a medical incident or pilot error. "

Add mechanical failure and you have a complete list of the potential causes. Hopefully the NTSB will provide the answer.

In the meantime all low altitude flight activity west of the Palo Alto airport and all IFR departures off of runway 31 should be prohibited.


Posted by petercarp, a resident of Atherton
on Feb 26, 2010 at 8:31 pm

petercarp is a registered user.

Jason states:"if one is rated in a multi-engine, then one needs to be up to the challenge"

True, but the biggest challenge is having the judgment to say NO to taking off in hard IFR in a twin engine aircraft - the odds are very much against you if you have an engine failure at takeoff power.

And you need to make sure that your decision doesn't put others, like the people living in EPA, at risk. It was a no wind condition and a 13 departure could have been requested and that would have prevented this tragedy.


Posted by Bruce Fein, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 27, 2010 at 6:37 am

small airplanes use a lot of fuel. 100LL avgas contains two grams of lead per gallon. Much more than the auto gas of the 70's. And airplanes use a lot of gasoline, 4 gallons per hour and upwards, often much more. And that's quite the amount of lead. They have to add special chemicals so the lead goes out the exhaust, and doesn't clog up the engine or ignition.
For a Cessna 152 (a small two seater), flying at around 100 knots, the amount of air raised to EPA limits for airborne lead is equal to all the air that passes under the aircraft's wings to a height of four meters.
For every 227 gallons consumed by a small plane, 1 pound of lead is sprayed into the atmosphere as millions of highly toxic microscopic particles are rained down on us. Lead is one of the very worst toxic environmental hazards, you may recall that millions of toys made in China were recalled in 2007 because of the presence of lead, and lead is gone from house paint because of its high toxicity. We are actually subsidizing a facility that causes us to be on the receiving end of one of the worst environmental toxins in existence. Anyone who is unclear about how dangerous lead is should run a simple Google search.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton
on Feb 27, 2010 at 8:40 am

I have submitted the following request to the operator of the Palo Alto Airport:

Carl Honaker
Director of Airports
Santa Clara County

This is a request that the County of Santa Clara, as the operator of the Palo Alto Airport, take the necessary steps to prohibit low altitude pattern operations on the west side of runway 13/31 and to prohibit IFR departures from runway 31 whenever those departures could be safely made from runway 13.

Please let me know if you require additional information or a different form/format in order to act on this request.


Peter Carpenter


Posted by CessnaTwinPilot, a resident of another community
on Feb 27, 2010 at 11:18 am

Mr. Fein, the lead issue is minuscule. The amount of lead contributed by all the piston engine aircraft in the United States is a tiny fraction - less than one millionth - of that put into the atmosphere by coal fired power plants, cement production, oil furnaces and power plants, and others. Additionally, the lead in engine exhaust is primarily lead oxide and lead bromide, which are lead salts. These are not biologically active, as are organic lead. The lead poisoning caused by children eating paint is well documented. There are no documented cases of lead poisoning or any cases of health effects from the tiny lead emissions of aircraft. Besides, future engines will run on either unleaded gasoline or jet fuel. It is a matter or time, economics and the chemistry/engineering required to produce the fuel and engines. If you are harping on lead as an attempt to get people to dislike the airport as you probably do, those who know better won't buy your argument. - Regards, Michael, Ph.D., Consulting Engineer


Posted by Anna, a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 27, 2010 at 11:53 am

The lead issue may be "minuscule" (although how many times have we been assured by scientists and engineers about a substance or matter that turns out to be a real danger in the past.)

But whether lead spewed into the air over our homes is a big risk to the health of our children or a relatively small risk, it's fair to ask why we should put up with ANY unnecessary risk caused by a frivolous activity carried on primarily by well off people from other cities.

Whether the lead issue is small or large, it's one more reason why the airport doesn't mix well with a developed residential area - and why it should be CLOSED ASAP.


Posted by Bruce Fein, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 27, 2010 at 12:31 pm

TwingPilot, the largest current source of lead in the air and indoors comes from piston-engine aircraft - small propeller planes. Tests done in some SF Bay Area school class rooms for example, indicated levels 54 times higher than the EPA standards, and that's the Bush administration's EPA. The contamination has been linked to small airplanes. This is hardly minuscule, this is pretty deadly stuff. Are you aware that used small aircraft engine oil can be disposed of only by a special process(because of the presence of lead in it) reminiscing of disposing radio-active materials, that's how toxic it is.


Posted by CessnaTwinPilot, a resident of another community
on Feb 27, 2010 at 2:24 pm

Mr. Fein, do you have any scientific evidence that that lead is from aircraft? You probably do not. I am well aware of how used engine oil is disposed. It is not handled like radioactive material. It is handled similarly to other used motor oil, except that the incinerators used to dispose of it require scrubbers to sequester the lead. That is not the same thing as the lead salts in aircraft exhaust. With all of other contaminants in air, lead ranks near the bottom. Inorganic lead salts in air are not the same thing as organic lead, and certainly not the same thing as lead paint being eaten. If exposure to leaded avgas and exhaust is so risky, then those of us who fly aircraft should be at high risk because we are exposed to it every time we fly. Again, there are no scientific studies that demonstrate link of that exposure to illnesses. Like I said, if one choses to move near an airport, some exposure to exhaust, traffic, and noise must be expected. And like I also said, in the next ten years or so, technology will replace the leaded avgas engine with unleaded fuel types. Lead is not without problems, it is needed to provide the 100 octane rating so that no preignition of the fuel occurs, however, it contributes to corrosion of valves, exhaust systems, and reduces the time between overhaul of the engine. I am not adverse to seeing lead go away, but not until the engines and fuels are out there to safely operate with them. Right now, there is no totally "drop in" 100 octane unleaded substitute, but there will be. Also, with respect to EPA standards, there is nothing that proves those standards have any correlation to thresholds at which sicknesses or disease occurs. Politics plays a large role in setting them.


Posted by Jason, a resident of Palo Verde
on Feb 27, 2010 at 2:48 pm

Since there is much chatter about pollution from small planes, supposedly due to "frivilous" acitvity, why don't we require that all residient ride bicycles to our local libraries and parks? Imagine all that CO2 and CO and NOx released into our air due to frivilous activities? We don't really need libraries, because we can get most of that stuff from our own keyboards. Why do we need parks, when we can just walk around the block, with our dogs on leash? Why do we need a frivilous childrens theatre...think about all the pollution that is caused by parents dropping off/picking up kids? Foothills Park can be shut down, thus preventing frivilous pollution by all those cars heading up there (for the exclusive and elitist use of local nature people).

Gawd, we could just shut down most amenities in this city, in order make it pollution free. Don't forget to ban cars for shopping and dropping the kids off at school.

Of course, I think such pollution issues are a mere excuse to run a private agenda, and I support all of our city ammenities, so don't expect me to support such a shutdown.


Posted by CessnaTwinPilot, a resident of another community
on Feb 27, 2010 at 3:11 pm

Well said, Jason. Of course this whole issue is the result of people with agendas. For better or worse, there aren't as many pilots and aircraft owners as non-pilots and non-owners. The people who want to close the airport have their own private agenda to deny the use of the airport, which is a feature and an asset to Palo Alto and the area, to a smaller minority just because they don't like "rich" people operating their "toys". I get more value from my local airport than I do from the public library or schools for example. My use of an airport is of just as much importance and value as someone else's use of a library, school, mall, or anything else.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton
on Feb 27, 2010 at 3:20 pm

CessnaTwinPilot states:"My use of an airport is of just as much importance and value as someone else's use of a library, school, mall, or anything else."

That may well be, but the use of a library, school or mall does not place other people involuntarily at risk. Pilots should certainly have the opportunity to enjoy their airplanes but they also have an obligation to do so in a manner which does not impose risks on others who are not sharing their enjoyment.


Posted by CessnaTwinPilot, a resident of another community
on Feb 27, 2010 at 3:40 pm

Mr. Carpenter, I agree with you. I never said otherwise. Pilots are overwhelmingly willing to fly in the most neighbor friendly and safe manner possible. The thing that I don't like are the people who want to deny me, and others, that ability regardless of how many of the surrounding neighborhood's concerns we try to honor. Apparently, there are many people in your area who have that mindset, which to me is just plain selfish.


Posted by Jason, a resident of Palo Verde
on Feb 27, 2010 at 4:13 pm

"the use of a library, school or mall does not place other people involuntarily at risk"

Peter Carpenter,

Not true! My aunt was hit in a crosswalk, as the driver was rushing to the local library, in order get her book in before the penalty began on her overdue book. My son was bitten by a dog, as the dog owner was walking his dog to the park (on a public sidewalk).

The biggest risk, for any amenity, is the drive to the amentiy. This is true of parks, libraries, airports, golf courses, parks, malls, etc.

There are risks in life, including the urban environomnet. Airports have a pretty good track record, with regard to innocents getting hurt or killed. The biggest risk of local airports is the drive to the airport.


Posted by andrea, a resident of Community Center
on Feb 27, 2010 at 4:38 pm

[Post removed due to same poster using multiple names]


Posted by Anna, a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 27, 2010 at 5:13 pm

CessnaTwin from "another community" thinks WE in Palo Alto are selfish because we object to subsidizing HIS hobby which in addition to adding to the financial risks the city faces, poses a mortal danger to those on the ground, spews poisons on to our homes and playgrounds, and is a constant nuisance to those living near the airport or its flight paths.

One hardly knows how to react. Others have commented on the sense of entitlement displayed by airport supporters. But I haven't seen it expressed in such naked narcissistic language heretofore. The idea that someone who doesn't live here, and so bears none of the burden of having the airport here would complain about the "selfishness" of those of us who are tired of subsidizing his hobby is priceless in its degree of blind solipsism.


Posted by andrea, a resident of Community Center
on Feb 27, 2010 at 8:20 pm

[Post removed due to same poster using multiple names]


Posted by CessnaTwinPilot, a resident of another community
on Feb 28, 2010 at 5:07 am

Ms. Andrea and Anna, you are selfish, and what I said about lead is true. There are absolutely no scientific studies that link any kind of illness to the use of leaded fuel in aviation engines. My use of the airport is not for personal fun and joy, it is for furtherance of my business. That economic input, plus that of others using the airport for similar purposes contributes to your local economy. And don't lecture me on the Nazis. My grandmother was an Auschwitz survivor. I will refrain from using derogatory language here as both of you did because I have a little more class and likely much more education than either of you. Most pilots, including myself, are perfectly willing to alter our flight paths and fly in a manner that minimizes exposure to those on the ground. If my past language was a little strong it was only because you, and others, cling to an "all or nothing" stance with respect to closing a vitally important center of transportation. If you are unwilling to compromise, as the airport community is, then you will find your goals of abating noise and traffic exposure to be that much more difficult. I am sure you will agree with that.


Posted by Anna, a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 28, 2010 at 5:44 am

"I have a little more class and likely much more education than either of you."

This is the essence of the entitled elitism that pervades all of the flying community's attitude here. Those from other towns who use OUR money, OUR safety, OUR health, and OUR peace and quiet to further their self interest believe they have some sort of moral right to do so because of their superior status. Apart from the here well hashed out inequities in their position, this attitude is the definition of arrogant narcissism.

One thing that CessnaTwinP's comments make clear is that the pilot's licensing examination does not have a psychiatric component.


Posted by gerald, a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 28, 2010 at 7:26 am

[Post removed due to same poster using multiple names]


Posted by sheesh, a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 28, 2010 at 12:24 pm

"My use of the airport is not for personal fun and joy, it is for furtherance of my business. "

Oh, this is appalling. You want the residents of Palo Alto to subsidize the furtherance of your business? You don't even live here! You leech of the city for your personal gain and then have the gall to call the residents selfish?!!


Posted by CessnaTwinPilot, a resident of another community
on Feb 28, 2010 at 1:42 pm

Yes, just as PA residents have the privilege and right to fly and drive to my community in furtherance of their businesses. The public infrastructure, whether roads, public utilities, highways, or airports is there for the common good of America. I still maintain that you are selfish if you espouse otherwise.


Posted by CessnaTwinPilot, a resident of another community
on Feb 28, 2010 at 1:45 pm

By the way, I am not using your money and you are not subsidizing me. Whenever any transient flight lands at PAO, the aircraft owner pays the parking, storage, fuel, and other fees associated with it. That money flows into the local economy, doesn't it? The aircraft that are based at PAO pay tiedown or hangar fees, maintenance, fuel, property taxes, and other fees that also flow into the local economy. If localities, states, the Federal government, and users were not to support public infrastructure such as this, where do you think this country would be?


Posted by Jason, a resident of Palo Verde
on Feb 28, 2010 at 5:27 pm

PAO is a useful asset to Palo Alto. However, it could be much more useful, if it was positioned correctly as a destination for business conferences. The golf course is there. A major hotel, with conference facilities, would be a multiplier. Tourists could fly in, by charters, in order to avoid the long drive (from anywhere). Appropriate development of the hangers would help to defray the costs, currently being paid by the county. The yaught harbor should be re-opened.

Palo Alto could have a world class recycling and co-generation system at the current dump site. Byxbee Park should be re-negotiated, in order to faciliate the best practices of recycling and energy generation. Imagine a research center dedicated to such issues. Many energy executives would flock to Palo Alto, landing at PAO, and staying in the 4-5 star hotel. A little golf on the side would provide for some good face-to-face time. Perhaps a little walk out into the bay, along the existing trails. East Palo Alto could really help themselves by being first in line to offer such facilities...the Palo Alto Process gives them a great opportunity to be first.




Posted by Anna, a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 28, 2010 at 9:26 pm

"By the way, I am not using your money and you are not subsidizing me....If localities, states, the Federal government, and users were not to support public infrastructure such as this, where do you think this country would be?"

It's difficult, but obviously not impossible, as CessnaTwin shows, to contradict oneself in a 5 line post. He's not using "our" money; he's just relying on the "support" of local, state and federal governments. Glad we got that cleared up.


Posted by petercarp, a resident of Atherton
on Feb 28, 2010 at 9:39 pm

petercarp is a registered user.

The tragic airplane crash in East Palo Alto has generated a lot of discussion on the Town Square Forum spread over a number of different topics/threads. I thought it would be useful to start a new thread to consolidate and hopefully to focus these discussions.

Web Link


Posted by sheesh, a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 28, 2010 at 10:14 pm

"By the way, I am not using your money and you are not subsidizing me."

Palo Alto Utilities pay the City over $10 million/year in rent. PAO pays $1/year in rent.

Nah, not subsidizing you at all. Wait...doh!

"That money flows into the local economy, doesn't it?"
The airport's losing money. That's why the county's walking away from it. However, by your reckoning, giving someone $20 and charging them $15 for it is somehow a good thing. Kein wunder you need the support of Palo Alto residents to further your business!


Posted by petercarp, a resident of Atherton
on Feb 28, 2010 at 10:18 pm

petercarp is a registered user.

Sheesh - Let's consolidate this discussion on the new topic/thread:

Web Link


Posted by Hmmm, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Mar 1, 2010 at 1:27 pm

Mr. Flisser and Mr. Carp - Yes, the pilot at least, owes an apology, but he's gone now and can't give one. As for my "spreading rumors" I can live w/that, even though that's not what I did. It's the least of the problems related to this tragic mess from nearly 2 weeks ago.
The community here is still reeling from this, from the residents of Beech Street to the students who witnessed it, to the community leaders and emegergency response people to community organizations that are dealing with the aftermath.

I still see the pilot and his passangers as making foolish and selfish decisions regarding their safety and the safety of others, by getting on that plane. If nothing had happened, this would all be moot. But it's not moot because of what happened.

Mr. Flisser - I wouldn't venture to say people here are weak, but many are more financially vulnerable than in other areas. Many here have to be strong and resilient to live here and work towards a better today and tomorrow. It's not always easy, but this is the reality.

This isn't an issue of how long PAO has been around, but it's an issue about how safe it is to have these planes so close by. When we talk about safety, we all look at how necessary the planes are, and many of us aren't convinced that they are a vital part of the community - that is, necessary and important to the lives of many.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton
on Mar 1, 2010 at 1:31 pm

Let's consolidate this discussion on the new topic/thread:

Web Link


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