Vashon Municipal Airport, (2S1) is an 1800 foot long grass runway on twenty acres of land owned by an entity called King County Airport District No. 1 in Washington State. It is supported entirely from rents received from about forty hanger owners who pay a monthly fee for leasing the space their hangers occupy. Annual takeoffs probably are no more then 2000 or so. It is the only public airport serving an island community in Puget Sound near Seattle. A private airport also exists on the island but its future existence is not assured.
The FAA has never been willing, in the fifty years I've been involved with the airport, to provide funds to improve the airport because the amount of land available would not permit meeting their minimum standards for a small community airport and it has always been assumed, probably correctly, that it would be almost impossible to overcome neighbor objections to tripling the size of the airport.
The Washington State Aeronautics Department has, on a couple of occasions, provided funds for clearing trees from the approach and departure paths but a couple of years ago they said they would only provide funds for airports who were turned down when they applied for money from the FAA. The elected Airport Commissioners then applied for funds from the Federal Government fully expecting to be turned down so we could resume our friendly relation with the state.
To every one's surprise, not least of all mine, the FAA said O.K. - We'll give you about 150, 000 dollars a year for twenty years to improve your little airport. in accordance with a plan prepared by a consulting engineering firm. It is not clear to me to what extent we are required to follow the FARs and ACs that apply to FAA funded airports. Clearly we don't have enough land to comply with many of them. I have a vague idea that many of them are to be regarded as goals which should be aspired to when possible but are not mandatory.
For the time being I'm assuming the subject of this letter, Compliance Guidance Letter 2009-1 prohibiting "Through the Fence" operations will be applied to our airport.
I live on a ten acre piece of land bordering the north boundary of the airport. I have an easement for a forty foot wide path to the airport from my land to gain access to the airport with my airplanes for personal use. It is a recorded easement which goes with the land in perpetuity. It is valuable and increases the value of my land if a potential buyer wants to live on an airport with his airplanes. I like it because my well equipped shop is on my land and I work on airplanes there. I have a hangar on the airport but the commisioners are in the process of imposing a new lease which seems to preclude keeping tools and machinery in one's hangar on airport property. Incidentally this easement was not a gift - I provided the airport with an easement over my road for airport acess, agreed to a tree trimming covenant and offerred free use of some acreage to extend the runway, Regretfully the latter was declined.
My reading of Section VI of the referenced letter which says "FAA will not require sponsers to terminate existing TTF access agrements" makes me think that my easement can remain in force but I'm unskilled in the ways of laywers and I am concerned.
It appears to me that the only error presently existing is the failure to include reference to the easement on the Airport Layout Plan..
a) Does your airport have residential TTF operations?
Only the one on my land. However I think we would find the neighbors more supportive if others also used the airport.
Incidentally it would seem to stretch things a bit but I wonder if towing my trailered motorglider onto the airport is allowed.
There is no space available for more hangars on the airport. It would probably help if I sold mine and built another TTF.
b) Are you aware of any problems residential TTF operations have caused.
c) Improvements to draft letter.
Section ll - Background has all kinds of horror stories. They deserve to be balanced. Some good can come from TTF:
- A nearby resident, especially in an isolated rural area can prevent vandalism and theft. (I've done that)
- A nearby resident in an isolated area can call for aid when a crash occurs. (I've done that)
- A nearby resident can check for missing airplanes when flight plans aren't closed. ( I've done that).
- More hangerage can become available if the airport runs out of space. (Like my airport)
-More TTF operations would remove some hostile objections from neighbors to an airport.
I know the horror stories have all probably happened at some bigger airports but I'm addressing tiny ones.
Additional sections of this whole document set a very high standard which wasn't in effect when this airport was
built from a three hundred foot wide strip from the bottom of a strawberry field. No zoning of approach and deparure
paths was asked for or recieved and no attempt to prevent houses being built close to the field was ever considered.
I appreciate the intent of this restrictive document but it is about five decades late. The houses are there. They aren't
going away. No Safety objective is to be gained by telling the owners the airport is full so they can't use it. TTF is ok
in this case.
R L Leonard
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