Webmaster Note: The following letter was written by Jim Ferman and submitted to the Wickenburg Sun for publication. The Sun refused to print it, despite the fact that it was written by a knowledgeable career pilot and raises some very important safety and liability concerns. What else is the Sun hiding from the public?
I am very concerned about the Hermosa Ranch development plan that has been approved by both the Planning & Zoning Commission and the Town Council. Well-informed, knowledgeable citizens have stood up at these meetings and voiced their concerns about the houses being built so close to the airport’s runway. The response they have received reflects that our elected officials approved this project without investigating critical issues.
I have been flying for over 35 years. I am a captain with a major airline and have more than 20,000 hours of flight experience flying everything from small Cessnas to Boeing 767’s. I believe I have a little more knowledge than the average person when dealing with this subject. From what I have seen and heard, the developer in question believes that, since the homes he is going to build are not all located in the direct extended centerline of the runway, he should be allowed to build there. The town in turn, has bowed to him, approved his development application and not listened to citizens’ concerns. The developer has threatened to sue the town to get what he wants.
Let’s take a look at a very real scenario that could potentially occur here….. a small twin-engine aircraft takes the runway at Wickenburg Airport for takeoff. The pilot pushes the throttles forward for takeoff and the aircraft accelerates. The aircraft becomes airborne at approximately 75-80 knots. Until the aircraft is able to accelerate to the airspeed where the rudder and ailerons become effective (approximately 100-110 knots), if one of the engines should quit, that aircraft will have a tendency to twist around the good engine (resulting in a turn). On a hot summer day, if the airplane is carrying a lot of weight, it essentially is almost uncontrollable for the first 15 seconds or so of flight if it loses an engine. Those homes lie directly within the first 15 seconds of flight.
In the event of an accident, any good aviation attorney who represents the survivors will take a good hard look into what happened. Among the first things he will want to know is why the town allowed houses to be built so close to the runway. Was the town warned that their approval of the project would potentially make them liable in the event of an accident? Did the FAA approve the placement of this project?
If the town is afraid of a lawsuit from this developer, they should keep in mind that, in the unfortunate event of an airplane accident, that suit will be peanuts in relation to a lawsuit brought by the survivors. I believe the town is being very short-sighted in their approval of this development. By approving and allowing this project to continue they are exposing the town to future lawsuits that will cost each and every one of us dearly. I respectfully ask the Town Council to re-examine this issue.
Last 5 posts by Jim Ferman
- Sun Continues to Edit Letters to Editor to Suit its Candidate's Needs - October 17th, 2008
- Concern about September 2 Elections - August 25th, 2008
- Town Council Retreat an Excercise in Futility for Townspeople? - March 21st, 2007
- Candidate Harassment Part of Wickenburg's Political Process - October 30th, 2006
- Thanks for Voting...but You're Not Done Yet - September 29th, 2006