Experienced pilots in Aspen have joined a task force to bring down the accident rate at the notorious local airport. Pitkin County commissioners approved formation of the task force, which is made up of 12 pilots who are familiar with the airport. There have been 40 serious general aviation accidents at Aspen in the last 40 years but none involving airliners. The airport is at 7800 feet, has a sloping runway surrounded by towering mountains and is subject to rapidly changing weather. Task force Chair Barry Vaughan said the group will make recommendations to county officials and won’t have the authority to make any rules or changes itself.
“It’s a real opportunity for the local pilot community to help in airport affairs,” said Vaughan. “Airport politics are convoluted and complex, and the pilot community, often perhaps at least from one perspective, isn’t heard much.” Among those on the task force are FlightAware founder Daniel Baker and ForeFlight creator Tyson Weihs. Others include pilots and aviation industry professionals with varied backgrounds and experience. There have been four serious accidents at the airport in the last year, including two runway excursions by private jets. While no one was killed, both planes were totaled and the accidents caused more than $500,000 in damage to airport property.