Sunday, March 31, 2013

Opinion/Letter: Even a trial period is unacceptable - Pueblo Memorial Airport (KPUB), Colorado

The Pueblo Chieftain
Tell It To The Chieftain
Posted: Sunday, March 31, 2013 12:00 am

Re: One-year trial period for the Army's Chinook helicopter training over and around the Pueblo area, including Pueblo West (Steve Henson, Feb. 17):

I absolutely do not agree with your comments: "If it turns out that the noise is too much, then we would not renew the contract."

If local government, including airport management, allow the Army a "toehold" into the airport and the airspace around Pueblo, they will never relinquish it. It will turn out much like the renter who refuses to pay the rent, damages the property and refuses to leave without a court-ordered eviction.

As a resident of Pueblo West, I see and hear Blackhawk and Chinook helicopters on an almost daily basis. I have seen groups of Air Force or Marine Ospreys fly over my house at minimum flight levels. Air Force C130s have, on occasion, flown over so low that I can clearly see the pilot and copilot in the cockpit. We are not talking a single aircraft, but usually flights of three passing at the same height. These incursions shake my house and upset my pets every time that they occur.

So far the Army has laid out a "proposed" route for the night flights, but nothing is on paper regarding daytime flights. The noise from a single helicopter rotor blade is fairly significant. The Chinook helicopter has twin rotors, so double the potential noise pollution. The proposed night flights would cross west from the racetrack at exit 108 on I-25 to the practice range, which would put them directly over my house in Pueblo West.

The flights would be a problem to my peace and quiet and, at the very least, disturbing to my pets.

The Army needs to keep all of its aircraft on post, not at the Pueblo Memorial Airport unless we want to rename it South Fort Carson Airbase.

Why does the Army not look into an agreement with Peterson AFB in Colorado Springs? Could it be that the Colorado Springs Municipal airport does not want its commercial flights interrupted by the helicopter training?

The revenue brought in by the sale of aviation fuel amounts to a very small drop in the bucket compared to the potential loss of revenue from commercial and private aviation concerns that will take their business to another airport.

The Pueblo Memorial Airport manager recently said that the city would receives six cents per gallon of fuel sold at the airport, which includes the jet fuel sold to the Army. He has also said that the city should expect revenues of $225,000 per year. If the majority of that revenue is to be generated by fuel sales, he is expecting to sell over three million gallons of fuel just to the Army!

Each Chinook helicopter holds approximately 1,000 gallons. That is certainly a lot of fillups and a lot of flight time to create that revenue. I think the citizenry has a right to a complete accounting of how he expects this projected revenue to be earned.

The ranchers took a stance defending the military expansion near Pinon Canyon declaring "Not One More Acre." Residents of Pueblo city and county need to take a similar stance defending our airspace. Once these military flights start, civilian and commercial aircraft will potentially have to deal with "Restricted Flight" areas and air congestion. Imagine how difficult it will become to recruit new commercial airline flights. It just will not happen.

David G. Springer

Pueblo West


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