Lantana Airport Helicopter operations in question
Date: Thursday, February 21, 2008 @ 22:04:07 EST
Topic: Palm Beach County

Lantana Airport Helicopter Issue

Editorial by William Coakley

Dan Crowe owner of the helicopter training school                                       Mr Jufko and Mr Arnold consultants



Welcome Lanier Park, Atlantis, Lake Osborne, Pompano Beach and other areas that attended the Department of Airports meeting February 21. This is video coverage in rough edit form and is accessible with broadband and DSL speeds only. Part II has some great highlights... a must see.

The Lantana Airport has been operated by the late Owen Gassaway since 1945 making him the most experienced operator in all of the South Eastern US. Hence my request that all financial information be released on that operation since with the most experienced operator, Lantana Airport remains the only airport in PBC that LOSES money. The public deserves to know why since in the end, its our money that's being lost... somehow.

In 1970, as a Commercial/Instrument/Multi-engine pilot with 1200 hours flight time logged, I formed the first pilots association at Lantana Airport to stem off the tide of rising concerns that developers were creating a negative PR campaign against the airport. I personally took some of the most frequent complainers from surrounding communities up in my Cessna aircraft. I served as Vice President of that Association for many years and continued to fly for Owen and for hire. Owen Gassaway continued to protect the existence of his enterprise in every conceivable way imaginable.

With the advent of helicopter training and an increased fixed wing flight training, the number of operations and the noise level rose to a sufficient level to prompt an immediate reaction which has been brewing for the past 5 years or more. The days of responsible flying in the pattern around the airport are gone and its not uncommon to see that a safety issue exists. Pilots choose whatever runway suits them at the time and with all runways lighted during the night, it's not unusual to see more than one runway being used simultaneously. The standard traffic pattern altitutdes are not being respected by the helicopter traffic because they are basically underpowered roto-craft and it would take more time than the operator is willing to spend to adhere to those altitudes.

For example, the standard pattern requires a straight out climb after takeoff and a turn at 500 feet. Helicopters are beginning gentle turns at 50 to 75 feet and flying over houses at a 100 to 150 feet in the area east of the Lake. With these gentle turns, the pattern is much closer to the airport which saves the operator/training mission money since they are not being required to climb to the standard altitudes in a standard right pattern.

More than one public participant raised the question of how did this negative impact to the surrounding communities get permitted? Mr Gassoway said he had no choice. The county said they had no choice. The Department of Airports said they had no choice and they all blame the FAA, and the FAA has been totally non-responsive and doesn't appear interested in returning phone calls. So the problem has been allowed to fester with all government claiming they have no available controls to remedy the situation.

Now introduce the study team LPA Group, Inc and its associate ESA both of whom provide "construction services" for the expansion and development of airports... and its no wonder that residents released a barrage of questions and scorn upon these ill prepared gentlemen who didn't even know the number of helicopters on the field and the operator was sitting right in front of them.

to be continued....

This article comes from Lake Worth Media

The URL for this story is: