Homes vs. Airports, From Sea To Shining Sea

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Conflict over GA airports is one of those recurring issues that just won't go away, but with real-estate markets around the country at record highs -- pushing builders farther into urban outskirts, where the small airports are -- and with more and more GA aircraft being built and sold and flown, the outlook is for more of the same, only worse. That forecast is coming true right now in Southern California, where officials in Bakersfield and Rialto recently moved to shut down their airports. In the 1930s, the Los Angeles basin had 56 active municipal airports and only nine remain, the Los Angeles Times reported this week. Further, Santa Monica may turn into an aviation environmental research center of sorts. But across the country in Florida one airport is buying homeowners out of their homes for more space.

Citing worries about air pollution, a bill in the California legislature would require that the taxi and idle time of every aircraft operating at Santa Monica Municipal would have to be monitored and recorded for an entire year. AOPA is worried that such a measure would set a bad precedent, according to the California Pilots Association. "The small, piston-engine aircraft many of our members fly produce very little emissions," said Owen Sweeney, AOPA manager of state and local government affairs. In Stuart, Fla., another solution is in the works -- the FAA has granted the county $5 million to spend on buying up noise-sensitive homes that are too close to the airport. And it's not only houses that cause conflicts. In Texas, a landfill too close to the runways at an Austin airfield is attracting turkey vultures, a large bird that can do real damage to an airplane. The city has been convinced to close the landfill, but not soon enough. A Cirrus SR22 hit one last Saturday, and was able to land safely despite a damaged wing.