Thursday, June 22, 2017

Organizers Tackle Quiet Skies: Citizens Plan Strategies to Change Flight Path

Ray Wojnar, a retired airline pilot, displays attention-grabbing homemade signs designed to encourage mountain residents to sign petitions objecting to the new Federal Aviation Administration flight paths above Lake Arrowhead.

To effectively and efficiently work toward changes in the airplane flight path over Lake Arrowhead, 15 notable community leaders gathered on June 20 to coordinate their efforts.

The first priority on the list is to obtain signatures on petitions that will be delivered to elected officials. Dubbed the National Quiet Skies Petition, it represents individuals requesting that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and other agencies take appropriate action to change the flight patterns.

At the time of Tuesday’s meeting, a few individuals had gathered 402 signatures. Glenn Thompson attended two meetings — Rotary and the Board of Realtors — Wednesday morning, spoke about the issues and gained another 78 signatures, bringing the total to 480. That is nearly halfway to the goal of obtaining at least 1,000 signatures to deliver to U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein. Having more signatures should prove to be more effective and influential, the group agreed.

A number of individuals will be circulating the petitions via friends, neighbors, door-to-door and through home owners associations. With approval from John Wick, general manager of Lake Arrowhead Village, willing businesses may participate by having petitions on hand in shops and offices.

For example, the Board of Realtors accepted a banner to place outside the office on the second level of Lake Arrowhead Village Building O. Office staff will provide petitions and will gather signatures at that location. ReMax offices are doing likewise.

Hugh Bialecki recommended that other volunteers can establish tables at concerts and various other events for collecting signatures. David Caine, who has been researching the issues extensively, reminded people to write legibly. E-mail addresses that are furnished will be used to provide updated information to interested signers. The addresses will be respected and not given to anyone other than the legislators who receive copies of the petitions.

All petitions will be retained for documentation if requested by a government agency.

The second priority identified by this Quiet Skies Group is education of the community. To that end, James Sutton has created a website, which is currently live at The site will be updated and changed continually to improve it along the way. This is where residents can examine several maps that show flight path alternatives, along with FAA information that is relevant.

Caine emphasized that this is a non-partisan issue. “It is not a Republican or Democrat issue; it is a quality-of-life issue.”

It also is not an issue of Lake Arrowhead versus Running Springs, Caine explained. The objective is not to push the flight path away from Lake Arrowhead in a manner that will create noise and nuisance for Running Springs residents. The preferred flight path should run between the “back yards” of both communities, over Heaps Peak and land owned by the Bureau of Land Management that is not occupied.

In fact, Caine cited an example of another community that lost its case in court because the plaintiffs were just trying to shift the flight path from their town to another community.

Another approach to fighting the issue is writing letters to many of the communities’ elected officials. Bialecki sent nine letters, starting with a basic one that Caine drafted, and then personalizing it with his background and motivations for desiring to keep Lake Arrowhead a place of relaxation, enjoyment and quiet away from the every-day noise of the greater Los Angeles area.

Ray Wojnar, a retired pilot, briefed the group on his experience flying into Ontario International Airport. He covered topics such as the Ontario landing schedules, planes coming from the north, comparing the old route with the new route, and procedures whereby pilots can ask for shortcuts, by-passing corners and saving mileage and time, with safety as the primary motive.

Other attendees at Tuesday’s meeting contributed their knowledge and experience generously with the group, and accepted various responsibilities toward attaining goals by reaching out to the public. One additional message they will convey: It won’t be paradise if you’re running planes through it.

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