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Accountability up the air

Plane vs house = homeowner loses.

What? No pilot insurance?

I have long been concerned about the risks of increased air traffic that will accompany major improvements planned for the Longmont Airport.

On December 18, 2011 a pilot had an emergency landing on usually busy Hover Rd., near Rogers Grove. No investigation was made as to why this extreme stunt was necessary. Did the pilot fail to fill the fuel tank? Was required maintenance properly performed? It was most fortunate no one was injured or killed.

Then on March 23, 2012 we had a mid-air collision over Longmont resulting in two deaths. What if the tumbling aircraft had crashed into a home, school or busy retail center in this densely populated town?

The Master Plan to extend the runway at Vance Brand in Longmont projects a doubling of aircraft operations over the next few years. That plan does nothing to implement flight controls or even simple record keeping at our airport. With takeoffs and landings occurring once a minute and helicopters and skydivers filling the air, mid-air collisions will occur more frequently.

There is no flight control at Vance Brand. Even instructors based at other airports bring students to Longmont’s airport to practice touch and go maneuvers. Why? No one at Longmont’s airport watches his or her operating skill or behavior. The FAA identifies an airport’s Air Influence Zone. Longmont has seen fit to build six schools within that zone – risky. You must agree that having novices learn to fly over your home and school is unnecessarily risky.

FAA does not require private aircraft owners to carry liability insurance and many do not. Few buy insurance adequate to compensate the victims of a crash. You cannot drive your car without adequate insurance but your small aircraft need not be insured so why bother.

The Longmont Airport is not a significant moneymaker for the City. Longmont Council can boost out local economy by bringing in light industry and high tech companies. But anyone who tries to argue that this airport is key to companies considering a move to Longmont is out of touch with the real world of business.

Please recognize the risks to each of us presented by increased air traffic over Longmont.

4/24/12 Update by Diane Wood

Being in an aerospace industry, it is prudent to carry aircraft insurance. If there were a serious accident, your company could be sued and possibly put out of business.

In surfing the internet regarding insurance on private aircraft, I did not find any mention that most private aircraft owners carry insurance.

Listed below are some of my concerns.


  • AIRNAV.COM reports 274 operations per day average during 2010 at LMO. With increased runway capacity and general improvement of the facility, more traffic can be expected in the future.
  • Daily observation shows those weekends with favorable weather experience at least double the daily average traffic. Those 548 operations are spread over about 10 hours. That is 55 operations per hour or about one a minute – all day. All this will happen without any traffic control.
  • At the same time there are hundreds of skydivers landing near the runway, gliders, ultralights, biplanes, prop planes, jets, the jump plane, helicopters.
  • Ultralights buzzing slowly along at low altitude and in the morning, drifting hot air balloons. All this happening over nearby homes and schools
  • With the expansion of the runway allowing more jet aircraft, the jet aircraft will require a larger Air Influence Zone. This means that more residential and school areas will be subjected to safety.
  • With a jet laden with fuel, it creates more of a hazard. It is heavier, contains more fuel, should an accident occur, it has more potential to do more damage to property and worst, injure, maim and kill people.
  • Migratory birds and aircraft can collide creating a tragedy.
  • Open space and wildlife will be affected.
  • Flights take off wee hours of the morning and late into the evening.
  • There is no monitoring of the airport.
  • Safety should never be considered way out of proportion.

By the way, I have not heard or read about any toaster deaths.