Minnesota Flyer - Serving Midwest Aviation Since 1960

By Dan McDowel
MnDOT Aeronautics 

Opening the Door to the Community

 

C.M. Swanson

One of the best parts of living in the Midwest is the opportunity to live in an area where "community" is important to most people, and neighbors are folks you actually know! Another version of "community" is the one that exists in the world of aviation. Think for a moment about how often you run into someone you know at an airport or at an aviation function. Remember when you met someone who is friends with someone you know, and who is your friend as well! Now that's community!

If you attend any aviation function, from a simple pancake breakfast to an elaborate airshow, you will find many people who are openly warm and friendly and who love to share aviation with everyone. That is one reason that aviation has been and continues to be so much fun. It is the people...the community that makes it so special.

Look just beyond the airport perimeter and you will find many homes where airport neighbors live. Beyond them are others who, as they get farther away from the airport, may not be as accepting of the airport and the sounds that emanate from it. It is very important however, for aviators to be good neighbors to everyone especially when flying.

Some airports around the country that have scheduled air service, or are joint-use airfields, may have noise abatement procedures in place. Bear in mind that people in general do not like airport or aircraft noise. So when you fly, you should ask yourself, what could I safely do to be considerate of my neighbors on the ground?

Think about your casual flights. Do you always take the same route? Do you always turn at the same ground reference point? Do you practice BFM over the same area, perhaps over or near the same farms or subdivisions all the time? Do you fly at minimum safe altitudes because that's all the FAA may require?

If you are an instructor, do you take every student out to the same practice area and do stalls and turns about a point, over the same farm, house, or ground reference point? Do you know where houses are in reference to where you are doing these maneuvers? Are you teaching aerobatics day after day over the same fields? Again,

do you know where the homes are below you and in the area where you are maneuvering?

The point is that noise made by aircraft over the same location day after day can be grating on those who are not aviators and may not understand why you are doing what you are doing directly over their heads. Their main recourse by assumption is to complain. You as the pilot have multiple options to mitigate the situation and thus be a good neighbor.

First, plan your flight well. Be alert to noise-sensitive areas. Avoid them if at all possible. If you are flying over subdivisions or even single farmhouses, assume that someone is home and may not like aircraft noise circling their house. If flying VFR, fly at the appropriate minimum altitude or higher if weather permits higher flight.

Instructors, start from the outset by teaching your student(s) good neighbor flying practices. It is basically a matter of good common sense bolstered with good common courtesy!

It will benefit aviation and your community if you become an active aviator within the community. In other words, take the time and make efforts to educate people who are not aviators, about the purposes and value of aviation. Help them understand the importance of having a good airport in their community. Let them know about the economic impact an airport has on its community and the surrounding region.

Be sure to keep your community leaders

C.M. Swanson

informed about aviation and remember, doing so is not a one-time thing. It should be consistent and continuous. You should make it a part of your aviation activities to share info with your local leaders. Consider

taking a local community leader for a flight. It will literally give them a brand new perspective on the community they work for. And also consider taking a young

person up for a flight. Introduce them to the joy you and many others find in aviation!

Be a great representative of aviation by being a good neighbor. Take an active role in helping to grow aviation where you live. Open the door to your airport by sharing aviation with non-aviators. Then you will be opening the door to your entire community to discover and experience aviation, and give them an opportunity to really get to know their aviation neighbors.

 

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