Editorial Decries Lack Of Tower And Flight Plan In Quadruple
The crash of a Mooney M20 Thursday night in Watsonville,
California has fanned the coals of a heated local debate about
residential encroachment on airports. Witnesses say the plane went
down as the pilot tried to clear a fog bank, and describe a slow,
nose-high attitude which sounds like a departure stall. Two adults
and two children died.
Mooney M20 File Photo
As sad as that is, the bigger issue in the community is the
report by local police that the plane came down in the parking lot
of Watsonville Community Hospital, slid 50-75 yards, and hit what
was fortunately an unoccupied medical office building connected to
the hospital. The NTSB has assigned Michael Huhn as the lead
investigator in the case.
The Santa Cruz Sentinel published an editorial Sunday which
notes the accident has locals wringing their hands about airports
being so close to people. The editorial says the crash, "...has
already renewed concerns about the proximity of the city's airport
to the local hospital, as well as residential neighborhoods...
"The airport is owned by the city and does not have a control
tower; pilots are not required to file flight plans before taking
If these comments make your blood boil, perhaps you'll be
consoled by the comments posted by readers on the newspaper's
website. One writes, "Editors, your first sentence should read,
'the hospital's proximity to the airport'", not the other way
around. The airport was deeded to the city in 1942. The hospital
wasn't there till 1998.
Another poster took the editors to task for their comments about
no control tower and no requirement to file a flight plan, calling
the observations red herrings. "What is significant is the fact
that governmental entities continue to fight to encroach on
airports because of the open spaces surrounding them. They do this
with taxpayer money that could be better put to use elsewhere."
Other comments include one recognizing the economic value of the
airport to the area.
In times past, it was fairly common for reporters unfamiliar
with aviation to look at preliminary accident reports, see the
notations that the airport was not tower-controlled and no flight
plan was filed, and present those boilerplate items as relevant.
But in the past two years it's become increasingly unusual to see
even inexperienced, general media reporters make these errors.
Then again, summer interns have only been on the job a couple of