Fence shouldn’t be priority for airport safety

By on April 10, 2018

Dear Editor:

A pilot’s wife wrote in to the Osoyoos Times (March 28) to defend the $60,000 spent quietly to build a fence to enclose the airport in town. She defended the expenditure with anecdotes of people blocking the runway while her husband was trying to land.

As one who walks that perimeter often, perhaps three times a week for a dozen years, the reports of intruders on the tarmac are greatly exaggerated.

I might have seen half a dozen people over the span of 12 plus year, not including the loud-throated, smokin’ dragsters spinning their wheels.

Seriously, how often do planes land in Osoyoos? I would be generous in suggesting one a month.

Considering the woeful neglect of the tarmac and surrounding facilities, spending the first airport funds on a fence does not pass the sniff test. It beggars the imagination.

Is the best argument for spending 60 grand on a fence that a plane lands once in a blue moon and every 100th or 1,000th time will spot someone on the fringes of the runway and be forced to expend an extra cup of fuel in coming around a second time? We can take up a collection.

I don’t pilot a plane, but I’m a defender of the need for an airport in town. Previous town administrators seemed hell-bent on eliminating it and shuffling a subdivision onto those flat plains. Myopic thinking.

The long, thick white lines on the pavement that once guided the planes in can no longer be seen, nor can the big numbers, victims of long neglect. If safety really were the prime concern, one would think repainting lines and numbers would be the first priority.

Safety? The thick rubber mat from drag racing events spread down the runway provides as much friction and traction for a landing plane as a parking lot full of ball bearings. Might cleaning off the rubber have been a far more prudent use of taxpayers’ airport improvement funds?

Or installing a digital anemometer to beam wind speeds, direction and temperature for made-in-Osoyoos metrics, not the Eastlink weather channel (pretend-Oliver-is-Osoyoos) numbers?

Boaters and pilots would appreciate finding that truly local information on the web. Or proper anchors for visiting planes to resist the often gale force winds that sweep the tarmac?

Building a chain link fence to enclose the airport and a 100 yards of desert on either side does nada for airport safety – the odds of a pilot/pedestrian interaction may be worse than the 6/49 odds. If safety were the primary concern, fencing would be the last – not the first priority at the Osoyoos airport.

I am still left scratching my head – why were the obvious safety issues on the tarmac not addressed instead? And who has been pushing this fencing initiative? Curious minds would like to know.

David Yanor

(Curmudgeon at large)

Osoyoos, B.C.

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One Comment

  1. Dave Drought

    April 13, 2018 at 11:43 am

    Animals, not people, are the biggest threat on an airstrip. I’d suggest Osoyoos airport is one of the very few that isn’t fenced, taking Oliver and Penticton into mind. Any pilots out there want to offer an opinion?

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