Airports must be protected from intrusion
Opinion/Letters from Readers
April 17, 2012

Decades ago Gen. Jimmy Doolittle designed what has been called the "Doolittle Cone."

It was an area fanning out from the end of runways at airports.

The cone protected land area from building in the dimension of the cone so as to minimize injury, death and damage in case aircraft crashed while landing or taking off.

The key to the implementation of the cone is local government placing zoning restriction on land within the cone to prevent building in this area.

The failure of politicians to fully implement the intended purpose of the cone has resulted in communities being built right up to the fence around many airports.

Like a reader pointed out in a letter, Oceana, Va., was there long before the development came.

So what happened at Oceana Navy Jet Port comes as no surprise to anyone in the aviation field. I, along with many others, feel we made a big mistake along with the Navy in their initial decision supporting the move away from Cecil Field as the East Coast Master Jet Base for the Navy.

We only need to look at Craig field to see the impact of poor planning. The airport was there before the communities built up around it. No Doolittle cone was imposed.

Now those living in residential areas that have built up to the airport fences are fighting to prevent the airport expansion needed for safety reasons.

In New York City, the FAA imposed a procedure on the airlines that bordered on an unsafe operating condition. They required pilots to reduce engine power during takeoff to a level of possible unsafety in case of mechanical problems before safe levels of altitude were obtained.

I know there is a large amount of wetlands around JIA that are protected from development. Let us please learn from the mistakes of the past. What is more important — the lives of our citizens or a few more bucks in the tax base? Will we ever learn?

Donald Jordan, adjunct professor in aviation, Embry-Riddle University and Jacksonville University