Airports: Just noise machines!
at the coffee shop consisted of the
regulars on the island. Mostly
men, everyone dressed in rain gear.
Out here on the west coast, winter means
rain. We rarely get snow for any
duration, and the winds blow mild
temperatures in off the Pacific.
This is not good flying weather! In
fact its not good for much at all.
On the other hand, I have to admit the
gray sky, the wind and the rain are
better than having a ton of snow and sub
relatively mild winters are the reason so
many of our countrymen (and women) move
here to retire. Rain wear is
cheaper than winter clothes. It
doesnt cost that much to heat a
house. And there are fewer heart
attacks while shoveling snow than in any
other place in the country.
is slower and quieter than in most areas
on the mainland. Thats
another reason that a large portion of
our population over here consists of
seniors, retired people. They like
it quiet. So it was no surprise at
the coffee shop that day when I was
almost thrown out for suggesting we need
an airport on our little piece of rock in
a fairly large chunk of the economy on
this island. A couple of
dozen Inns, Bed & Breakfasts
and motels/lodges offer accommodations.
Theres a very active retreat centre
running seminars and study sessions
weekly. Artists and crafters have
set up studios in their homes to sell and
display their creations. Restaurants
and theatres are also very active here.
They all rely on mainlanders, who in turn
must rely on the ferry service to get
here. That means delays, waits,
lineups, inconvenience and constantly
increasing costs. There would be
more people who would come if they could
wouldnt you support an airport
here? I put the question to
one of the most vocal opponents to the
idea. She responded, the
noise. Just then a Harley
Davidson motorcycle with the standard
issue straight pipes went roaring past.
Nobody seemed to notice that noise.
full well I was wasting my breath I
explained to her that we were not talking
about another Vancouver International, or
some training airport. What I had
in mind was a turf or gravel strip, maybe
2,500 feet long and for the use of the
small number of pilots who could then
bypass the BC Ferries nightmares and
commute to and from wherever they go.
The traffic volume at this airport would
be no more than one or two flights in and
out daily, if that. There are not
many pilots who live here.
model airplane pilots have their own
little strip. Hardly anyone
complains about it which doesnt
make sense because those planes buzz
around all day when theyre out
there flying. Real airplanes,
although admittedly noisier, are gone
quickly. They roll down the strip,
lift off and away they go. The
noise is only for about 30 seconds.
And we all know that an inbound aircraft
cant be heard at all in most cases.
the woman about other noise, tolerated by
islanders. Motorcycles are the
plague of every city, not just out little
corner of the world. Emergency
generators are another noise source that
drones on and on through our frequent
power outages. Many people have the
units that start up automatically the
instant the power goes off. That
means sometimes at three or four in the
morning. Theyre loud enough
to disturb entire neighborhoods.
Complaints? Well, some. But
generators are an accepted appliance
here. Barking dogs and loud music
occasionally rock the island.
Another fact of life here is loud or no
mufflers on a large percentage of the
noise sources I neatly packaged and put
on the table in front of this woman as my
argument for an airport. Still she
was having none of it. There is no
way she would support it. About
that time, it became clear Id need
to play the ace I had up my sleeve.
you aware there already is an airport on
the island? I asked.
way. Id have heard it!
I went on
to explain that one of the farmers had
quietly built a strip, complete with
windsock and a small hangar for his
airplane on his land several years
No one at
our table in that coffee shop had even
heard about it, let alone heard any air
traffic around it. There really
wasnt much traffic, just this one
aircraft coming and going perhaps on a
weekly basis. The close neighbors
knew about it, but none had any
objection. Unfortunately for the
pilots who would like to see a facility
here, the farmer will have no part of
anyone else using his field.
So the bad
news would be we cant use this
landing strip. The good news is
that nobody seems to be aware of it which
would be further good news when we
attempt to have a pubic airport
considered. How can people argue
against the noise when we already have a
strip that they havent heard!?
This is a
scenario that is similar in dozens, if
not hundreds of other locations across
the country. What people dont
understand, they reject outright. Given
a chance to see the other side of an
argument, they might be more receptive.
They all say they dont want noise.
But they dont do anything about the
motorcycles, the vehicles with no
mufflers, the barking dogs and loud
stereos. The perception that
aircraft are not only unsafe, but are
noisy too, is a hard one to change in
peoples minds. Someone once
said, My mind is made up. Dont
confuse me with facts. Seems
appropriate when you talk airplanes with