Wednesday, May 11, 2016

How shrimp caused an Federal Aviation Administration emergency at Montgomery Field (KMYF), San Diego, California

Montgomery Field could be in for some new construction, but it won't be for people.

Landing planes on a cloudy day takes some extra help, and pilot Mike Rawluk said that's where technology comes in.

"If you're above the clouds, you want to get through the clouds, you're going to need some kind of system," he said.

The system Rawluk and other pilots at Montgomery Field use is called the Instrument Landing System, or ILS. A key part is just west of Runway 28 Right, a critical location for guiding planes in. It's in a secure area, but it couldn't keep a tiny culprit from getting uncomfortably close.

The airport is filled with claylike soil, and that soil doesn't hold steady when it gets wet.

The rain was taking a toll on the ILS, and in 2009, the soil under it started to give. Water collected, and that disrupted the signal.

The city built a temporary structure above the water, but it rained more in 2010. That compromised a signal again.

All the while, a vernal pool formed below the ILS, and the endangered, tiny fairy shrimp moved in.

The FAA declared an emergency.

"I've seen coyotes hanging out near the runway; I've seen all kinds of different wildlife," said Rawluk.

In 2011, the city built a permanent antenna, grading and filling the area. The shrimp got the boot, but the city is now teaming with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to build the tiny creatures a new home a little farther away from the runway.

A city spokesman said it's too early to have a project cost, but that the airport wants to hire a full-time biologist to help with the new habitat.

"If they're fans of aviation, I guess they're going to be some lucky shrimp," Rawluk said.

They'll have a good view, but won't be close enough to cause any jumbo problems.

Original article can be found here:

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