The Duncan Flying Club wants one of its neighbours to trim some of their trees that are posing a safety risk to pilots.
The trees have grown and impacted visibility so much that the club says it may have to halt night flights altogether, which would also impact emergency aircraft that need to land.
Art Reitsma, the club’s president, says a number of trees on private property are starting to obstruct what pilots refer to as “the glide slope,” or the path planes would normally take when landing.
“If the trees get too high, either you’ve got to drop in sharper, which means you pick up speed, or you land further down the runway and with only 1500 feet of runway, it gets real short real soon,” Reitsma told CHEK News.
He says the flying club first identified the trees as a concern five years ago and they’ve only grown since.
But because the airstrip is smaller than a certified airport with regular passenger service, it can’t force the neighbour to trim the trees.
That’s prompting the flying club to ask the owners to cut them.
“We’re getting to the point where it’s becoming a real safety concern and we don’t want to be the ones held liable. We’ve offered to top them or fall them at our expense and have gotten nowhere,” said Reitsma.
CHEK News has reached out to the owners of the property with the trees but did not hear back.
Reitsma says the trees are especially a concern at night and if nothing changes, the club may have to turn off the lights and end night service within the year, “which will mean people like Helijet and B.C. air ambulances will have difficulty using the runway as an emergency airport.”
The club president says the long-term solution may be a larger airstrip in another location in the Cowichan Valley, which would be an asset during some emergencies. In the interim, they’re hoping the property owner will allow the trees to come down.
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