Oakdale airport-bound pilots are rethinking their flight paths in the interest of public safety and comfort. Air traffic has been re-directed away from the air space above Sierra View Elementary School after community complaints that the planes were flying too low.
“I was seeing a lot of low traffic in the area, and there was a lot of noise,” said George Hoover, who took his complaints to the Oakdale City Council.
The Oakdale Airport Ad Hoc Committee, which is appointed by the council, reviewed Hoover’s case and concerns about the low-flying planes above the elementary school and nearby neighborhoods. Don Gutridge, ad hoc committee member, said that the air traffic in question was coming from runway 28 at the Oakdale Municipal Airport, and was likely headed west. The flight path from runway 28 was established before Sierra View Elementary School or surrounding neighborhoods were built, official noted, and has not been reviewed since.
“We looked at it, and we decided in the interest of public safety to re-direct traffic,” Gutridge said.
A sign now greets pilots at the end of Runway 28, reminding them to keep south of the railroad tracks that parallel Sierra Avenue until they reach a height of 600 feet. Gutridge said that only a handful of small aircraft flying out of Oakdale Airport are underpowered enough to fly lower than 600 feet over Sierra Elementary School. Aircraft will still fly over the school if they reach a safe height.
“I have noticed a change. More planes are veering away,” Hoover said.
One student pilot taking off from Runway 28 on Monday afternoon said that he will be sure to heed the sign’s warning. Carson Miller, 18, is in the process of earning his pilot’s license. He owns a 1946 Luscombe 8A and has been flying solo since he was 16 years old. Miller recently received his driver’s license, but said that he was flying solo long before he could drive solo.
Miller, who is also assistant curator at Castle Air Museum in Atwater, was involved in another recent major event at the Oakdale Municipal Airport. Miller helped restore a Grumman Albatross that was tied down at the Oakdale Municipal Airport. The Albatross was easily the largest aircraft at the airport, and it towered above the other planes. The Albatross was sold recently and made a final flight out of Oakdale headed to its new home in Texas.
“It was kind of weird seeing it fly away this time,” Miller said, noting that it was the final time.
Several of the other planes kept at the Oakdale Municipal Airport will be on display at the Oakdale Airport Open House, which is coming up on May 5. The event will run from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. and will include a static display of aircraft, food and entertainment. More details will be available closer to the event date.