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Small plane crashes in East Palo Alto

Original post made on Feb 17, 2010

A small plane crash in East Palo Alto caused a major power outage this morning. Power is out in parts of Menlo Park, East Palo Alto and Palo Alto.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, February 17, 2010, 8:07 AM

Comments (176)

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Posted by SP
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Feb 17, 2010 at 9:41 am

Its very sad, but this pilot had no business being there. For noise abatement, planes that take off from the airport are supposed to turn right immediately and continue north west around East Palo Alto. Many pilots from that airport ignore this. If this pilot had followed the correct flight path, he would not have hit these power lines, and he would not have been in a residential area. For the sake of the pilots and the residents, the should be an investigation into why so many pilots either don't know the correct flight path, or ignore it.


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Posted by Patrick
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 17, 2010 at 9:45 am

This doesn't look good for the city/utilities - a single small plane takes out power for 3 cities? It makes me wonder what type of disaster planning these guys are doing. What if it's a serious disaster, or something more targeted like a terrorist action. Seems like a pretty fragile system to me.


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Posted by jack
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Feb 17, 2010 at 10:21 am

I suggest we move the "Disaster awareness" and "Dead peeps would've not died if doing the right thing" to a separate thread. We're talking the loss of lives here.


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Posted by A
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 17, 2010 at 10:24 am

SP -- While some pilots don't know the noise abatement rules, this pilot was far outside any normal flight path. He was flying on instrument flight rules, and would never have been cleared for a left turn at that point. Yet to be seen what went wrong.

Even for an experienced pilot with all the best equipment, taking off in near-zero visibility would be challenging and likely very foolish.


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Posted by Boris Foelsch
a resident of Palo Verde
on Feb 17, 2010 at 10:32 am

To me, this tragic event further calls into question the supposed economic benefits of this airport. I always worry when we have newbie pilots circling above the area. Perhaps in the aftermath, we'll reconsider our subsidy to the airport, which serves only a select few.


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Posted by ag
a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 17, 2010 at 10:34 am

I agree; this is crazy. How can ONE small plane crash into one power line cause this much damage to the infrastructure?


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Posted by McGrude
a resident of College Terrace
on Feb 17, 2010 at 10:37 am

I wish we could get an update from Palo Alto Utilities regarding their estimated time for the power to be restored.


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Posted by petercarp
a resident of Atherton
on Feb 17, 2010 at 10:42 am

petercarp is a registered user.

As an instrument rated pilot and someone deeply involved in local disaster planning let me provide some early thoughts:
1 - YES, we do have a very complex and fragile infrastructure and today's power outage from this plane crash is a good reminder that we all need to be better prepared. There is very little redundancy in the high voltage electrical distribution system and the loss of this main line will cause a lot of disruption.

2 - as an instrument rated pilot who has flown many instrument departures from PAO here are my early thoughts:
a - it is too soon and inappropriate to speculate on the cause of this particular crash
b - the condition at PAO at 8 AM would have required the pilot to make an instrument departure using on board instruments to fly a very specific flight path and not relying on any outside visual references.
c - the standard and ALWAYS followed instrument departure from PAO is "fly runway heading and turn to a heading of 060 within 1 mile"
which means fly an initial heading of 310 which would be well to the East of the crash site and then turn RIGHT towards the south bay.
d - twin engine planes require special training and skill to deal with the possibility of the failure of one of the engines - such a failure would cause the plane to want to veer sharply in the direction of the failed engine. If, for example, the left engine fails then the plane would veer to the left UNLESS the pilot took corrective action. ON takeoff when the plane is at full power this problem is much more severe.

More to follow when more is known - feel free to ask questions.


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Posted by stu
a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 17, 2010 at 11:00 am

The airport is not only a waste of money but a menace and should be shut down.


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Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Feb 17, 2010 at 11:01 am

I am surprised the pilot was allowed to even take off. This is horrible. I am glad not more people were hurt or killed.


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Posted by John Green
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Feb 17, 2010 at 11:15 am

Thousands of people worldwide are being affected the power outage.


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Posted by Sitting in the dark tonight?
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Feb 17, 2010 at 11:38 am

At 11:15am the city said: Web Link
> There is currently no estimated time for power restoration;
> however, the last estimate is that power would be restored
> in 8 hours.

So it looks like we're not going to have electricity this evening.


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Posted by neighbor
a resident of another community
on Feb 17, 2010 at 11:43 am

3 people died, and their families and friends (probably your neighbors) are devastated.

But Palo Alto residents don't seem to feel the tragedy. Instead they blame the victims (without any information about the accident's causes), the airport's existence, etc. ad nauseum. Their only focus is their personal inconvenience in the town's power outage.

This attitude surfaces daily in these pages. Palo Alto -- are you still really a community?
What has your town become?


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Posted by Brian
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Feb 17, 2010 at 11:45 am

I assume that PG&E will have to repair the lines that were damaged by the plane crash and that deliver power to Palo Alto. They are currently estimating power restoration by 5:30 pm.


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Posted by Kathy
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 17, 2010 at 11:54 am

Come on people, have we become so spoiled that a power outage turns us into whiny babies? Think about what these families are going through. NOt only the families who lost loved ones but those who live in the community of the crash. Consider yourself lucky that you are only without power for a few hours.


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Posted by Judy
a resident of Greendell/Walnut Grove
on Feb 17, 2010 at 11:57 am

Similar to this event in Palo Alto in 1949:
Web Link


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Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Feb 17, 2010 at 12:02 pm

And noticing very little expressions of interest or concern about EPA residents, their homes, cars, their disrupted lives.


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Posted by An Engineer
a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 17, 2010 at 12:05 pm

"This doesn't look good for the city/utilities - a single small plane takes out power for 3 cities?"

That's a PG&E powerline. It feeds Palo Alto's main switchyard. Can't blame CPAU or PG&E for this one. Maybe it's time to rethink keeping the airport.


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Posted by Observer
a resident of another community
on Feb 17, 2010 at 12:10 pm

Ah, Shallow Alto. Your name is well earned.


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Posted by backup
a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 17, 2010 at 12:18 pm

A horrific accident,and I hope someone from EPA can post here and tell us if there is anything we can do to help those residents who have been displaced or lost possessions because of the crash.

Of equally great concern at this point is the fact that we have exceedingly dangerous traffic conditions. I drove downtown and (briefly) on El Camino. No lights, no officers directing traffic even at major intersections, much chaos. I hope we can make it through the rest of the day without any more fatalities resulting indirectly from this accident. And now we know: Palo Alto has no Plan B.


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Posted by narnia
a resident of Menlo Park
on Feb 17, 2010 at 12:19 pm

Well, I do feel sorry for those poor people who have their housing, business and belongings destroyed and their stability disrupted if not destroyed. How are they going to recover from that and how quickly? Just figuring out what went wrong would probably take months and even then it will be years before some compensation is available or some puny amount will be offered.
Taking off in thick fog is reckless. I bet the families of those on board are financially covered, but the poor will suffer. It's very sad,
that 3 died but given the conditions the pilot was playing russian roulette with others (including the passengers) and that cannot be overlooked.


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Posted by ANON
a resident of another community
on Feb 17, 2010 at 12:21 pm

I love how this entire thread displays the Concerns and Real Worries of the Palo Alto "COMMUNITY!"

Any wonder the kids of this "COMMUNITY" rush towards suicide?!

You can delete this, but the reality is your-self-serving and self-revolving world has caused your rotten-rooted-tree to start falling down. When your care is "ONLY" yourself, your young aims for nothing since they realize the absurdity of you and what you stand for. If you were only able to see your next door neighbors' side of things, you would have had a MUCH more expanded view point. Forget about the rest of the world!

Poor PA community, your reputation is expanding by the speed of light. Thanks to your self-serving media!


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Posted by Isabela
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 17, 2010 at 12:22 pm

May these poor people rest in peace, and their families and friends find a bit of comfort at some point in their lives!


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Posted by Dawn Silverman
a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 17, 2010 at 12:25 pm

I'm still only hearing that three have died, yet the article above says four??


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Posted by backup
a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 17, 2010 at 12:34 pm

Web Link


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Posted by petercarp
a resident of Atherton
on Feb 17, 2010 at 12:41 pm

petercarp is a registered user.

I think that this tragedy is a good opportunity for the citizens of the mid-peninsula to reach out to comfort the families of those who have died and their work colleagues and to do everything possible for the families in East Palo Alto whose homes were destroyed.

There is no need to wait for someone else to do this - we can do it now.


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Posted by Rod c
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 17, 2010 at 12:43 pm

Palo Alto Online's article appears to be wrong. Three died, not four.


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Posted by William
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 17, 2010 at 12:45 pm

Come on, folks! The plane took off under IFR (instrument flight) conditions. It does not matter how foggy it was. An IFR rating requires considerable training and flight experience, including continued practice to maintain it. It's likely there was an equipment failure.

Let's wait until the FAA investigation before jumping to unwarranted conclusions.

I'm sad for the pilot, passengers, and their families, and very glad no one else was hurt.


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Posted by petercarp
a resident of Atherton
on Feb 17, 2010 at 12:48 pm

petercarp is a registered user.

I have set up a Google Community Support Group for people who want to self organize and help those impacted by today's tragedy. Anyone can join and anyone can set up a discussion and organize a sub effort.

Web Link


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Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Feb 17, 2010 at 12:48 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


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Posted by Barbara Newton
a resident of Menlo Park
on Feb 17, 2010 at 12:52 pm

I left my home in Menlo Park early this morning to drive to the YMCA on Ross Road where I exercise regularly. I was unaware of the plane crash and power outage. When I arrived at the Y I realized there was a problem. I drove farther south to San Antonio Road and then began to return home. I passed countless intersections without any traffic lights/controls and drivers trying to make sense of the confusion. In the hour and one half that it took me to drive to Ross Road and return home, I never once saw a Palo Alto Police Officer. School crossing guards were trying to assist the traffic mess without much success.

This tragic plane crash is mild compared to the confusion an earthquake, terror attack, or even bad weather might cause and yet here we are without police assistance and, further, without a hospital emergency room capable of dealing with major problems.

Wake up, Palo Alto, wake up and pay attention!!!


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Posted by darkness
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Feb 17, 2010 at 1:06 pm

I feel sorry for those EPA families that needs to suffer the direct financial loss, and for thousands of PA families that have no communication, no heat (many houses are electrically heated), and potentially low water reserve.
Flying in such a dense fog is not too much different from drunk driving, imho. At least the drunk driver cannot take down the power lines.


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Posted by concerned resident
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Feb 17, 2010 at 1:11 pm

This airport which serves few, should be closed. It appears others have similar thoughts.
The self serving and "'righteous" community is another story.


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Posted by Tyler Hanley
online editor of Palo Alto Online
on Feb 17, 2010 at 1:35 pm

Tyler Hanley is a registered user.

Get up-to-the-minute details on the crash on twitter.com/paloaltoweekly: Web Link


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Posted by Dumb Palo Altans
a resident of another community
on Feb 17, 2010 at 2:15 pm

TO Barbara Newton: Maybe the Palo Alto officers were out HELPING the East Palo Alto officers and firefighters!! Glad your so worried about you, you, you. And its not so confusing. When lights are out, treat them as a 4 way stop. What part of the drivers manual did you miss?


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Posted by petercarp
a resident of Atherton
on Feb 17, 2010 at 2:39 pm

petercarp is a registered user.

The fact is that we, as citizens, have demanded that our emergency services have no excess capacity. Hence when something extra ordinary occurs there is no additional capacity to respond. At any given time of day there are far fewer police officers on duty than there are busy intersections without working traffic signals.

This is a good preview of what we face when there is a real disaster.


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Posted by palo altans
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 17, 2010 at 2:54 pm

Old Barb is from Menlo not PA. we have the light thing figured out


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Posted by dcreemer
a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 17, 2010 at 2:59 pm

To help folks visualize the area, I suggest this image/map:

Web Link

The accident area is a few blocks above the "L" in "Left Downwind". The aircraft's normal flight path should have taken it straight out from the runway, and then turned to the right over the bay.

Obviously something tragic occurred preventing a normal takeoff and climb out.


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Posted by Long-time resident
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Feb 17, 2010 at 3:12 pm

28,000 people in Palo Alto without power, mostly checking online for updates. 40 total posts on this thread, many from non-Palo Alto residents (since most Palo Alto residents are currently offline). It's interesting how many posts are critical of the perceived response of the Palo Alto community. For those who are supportive of the people affected by the crash - the passengers on the plane, the people whose homes and daycare center were hit by the wreckage, the people whose power has been off for over 7 hours, the people stuck on streets without lights - thank you for your support. Of course, this has hit a community that was already dealing with serious issues. For those who are critical, we appreciate suggestions for improvements, and hope that, once the dust settles, we can review what happened and see what changes can make things better in the future.


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Posted by Mom
a resident of another community
on Feb 17, 2010 at 3:34 pm

I don't think the folks commenting on this thread don't care about the victims. However, it is no surprise a small plane crashed and it actually hit something (of course it is very sad for everyone involved). What is surprising is that it has taken out the electricity of two cities (including hospitals, water pumps and stop lights) for a significant time. What would happen if there were an even bigger event?


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Posted by backup
a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 17, 2010 at 3:50 pm

All the Palo Alto officers were in EPA helping? Helping do what? There were no riots, and the fires were quickly extinguished. The police aren't qualified to retrieve the debris.

The traffic issues are very real. Everyone knows that a nonworking stoplight becomes a four-way stop, but when you have major El Camino intersections with 3+ lanes of traffic in each direction, plus pedestrians and cyclists, the chance of disaster is enormous.

Palo Alto needs a real emergency system.


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Posted by Left Home Today
a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 17, 2010 at 4:22 pm

Makes me want to REALLY get an earthquake plan figured out...kit, contact info, etc.

How many of us are ready for the disaster we know is coming?


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Posted by Ex-EPA Resident
a resident of Menlo Park
on Feb 17, 2010 at 4:23 pm

I was told about this tragedy about 10am, and it gave me chills. Having read reports now, I am *astounded* that only the plane's compliment were killed. Pieces of wreckage fell down on houses and _no one was hurt!_ The residents will be traumatized from this, as will the families of those on the Cessna.

I think losing power is a small price to pay for the loss of those 3 lives, and the potential loss of so many others, narrowly averted.


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Posted by JA3+
a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 17, 2010 at 5:38 pm

"Obviously something tragic occurred preventing a normal takeoff and climb out."

Is this statement not purely speculative?

What if pilot error played a role, whether in part or full?

Should causal conclusions be reached now without full data?


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Posted by JA3+
a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 17, 2010 at 5:42 pm

My condolences to all on the plane, their families, all in the homes affected by the tragedy, and their families; it's all very sad.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Dave Miller
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Feb 17, 2010 at 5:55 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


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Posted by Andreas
a resident of Ventura
on Feb 17, 2010 at 6:09 pm

The Palo Alto airport is a great little airport. I've taken off and landed there many times. The accident is sad, but it's an accident. The airport is safe.

It's very good that we have the city alert system. The call came to my cell phone. There have been updates all day.

The power outage underscores the need for everyone to have an earthquake kit: food, water, supplies, etc. for 14 days. No electricity means no internet, no web. How will you recharge cellphones without the electric outlet?


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Posted by a minor
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Feb 17, 2010 at 7:37 pm

I'd like to ask all the non-Palo-Altan critics who say we are a "cold, heartless, community" where the borderline is. Where do people transform from heartless Shallow Altans to the kind and sorry next-door neighbors, critics of our city? We have a school project about stereotypy due, and I have just found my subject matter.


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 17, 2010 at 7:58 pm

This is a very sad day for many reasons, particularly to those who knew the victims in the plane and to those whose lives have been affected on the ground.

However, this should be a wake up for all of us. Do we have a telephone with a cord to plug in so that we can get the emergency calls? Do we have a phone book so that we can look up numbers instead of using the internet?

Do the schools know how to cope with an emergency like this? Do businesses have an emergency plan? Can the City deal with no power for 12 hours? Can the residents manage without power for 12 hours? Can we remember how to do things without power and technology?

This happened on an early morning in what turned out to be a sunny day, but what would have happened if this had occurred on a dark, cold or wet evening?

There are lots of lessons to be learned from this. It should be considered a practice run and improvements to our emergency plans can be made now that we know some of the problem areas. I trust that the City will stop wasting time on feel good ideas and other non-issues and make sure that the lessons learned are acted upon. If something good can come of this tragedy, then at least that would be a good thing.


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Posted by Nora Charles
a resident of Stanford
on Feb 17, 2010 at 8:13 pm

What a tragic day. It is truly a miracle that no one on the ground was killed. May that neighborhood return to normal as soon as possible.

Kudos to the Stanford (Palo Alto also?) Police Department. They were everywhere on and around campus. Please know how much you and the fire fighters are appreciated.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Sharon
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 17, 2010 at 8:14 pm


Taking off in thick fog and flying in the wrong direction is not excusable
If these people were flying on Tesla business then Tesla is in serious trouble, their IPO is a non starter.

How many $millions were lost to PA businesses today?

The flight conditions at 8 AM were not right for a take off from PA airport.
Many innocent people in EPA could have been killed and thousands of people were without power and work


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Love Palo Alto
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Feb 17, 2010 at 8:15 pm

Those who call us Shallow Altans are jealous that they cannot afford to live here. I love living in Palo Alto and find people friendly and modest for the most part. Sure, there are some rude, entitled Palo Altans, but for the most part, people are amazingly wonderful here.


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Posted by Billy
a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 17, 2010 at 8:21 pm

> but it's an accident. The airport is safe

There have been over 75 accidents there in the past 35 years or so (about 15% of them fatal). It's very hard for people who have just seen their home destroyed by a pilot and his private aircraft hear that the "airport is safe". What about the pilots? Are they safe? Who is going to compensate the over 100,000 people who have lost a day of their lives?

No airport is "safe". Flight is inherently unsafe. And anyone who says otherwise is lying their their teeth!


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Posted by Jim
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 17, 2010 at 8:47 pm

"There have been over 75 accidents there in the past 35 years or so (about 15% of them fatal)"

I bet that there have been 75000 automobile accidents in Palo Alto during that time. Time to close Alma Street.


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Posted by Commander McBragg
a resident of another community
on Feb 17, 2010 at 8:54 pm

This airplane almost certainly had a problem with an engine on takeoff. It made a sharp veer to the left and failed to gain altitude. One witness said they saw it descending before it hit the power lines. It sounds like the fog wasn't real thick. Taking off in foggy conditions isn't a big deal, as long as it isn't too thick to see where you're going on the runway. In less than a minute you climb above the cloud deck into clear blue skies.

The statistic I've heard is that you are eight times more likely to die in a multi-engine airplane with an engine out than in a single-engine plane with the engine out. It's easier to lose control in a twin with one engine still going. The same thing could have happened on a clear day.

The first thing I thought about when I heard about this crash was that people will be using it to call for closing the airport. Very predictable.


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Posted by anonymous
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 17, 2010 at 9:07 pm

I just got back online. We live in PA, very close to the airport, and when I looked out the window this AM I thought the fog was VERY, VERY thick. Weather reports I heard on my portable radio confirmed this weather condition. I think the pilot might have chosen to delay the flight by several hours as the weather forecast was for clearing later. Seemed like taking a big chance to take off when they did...


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Posted by Melyssa
a resident of JLS Middle School
on Feb 17, 2010 at 9:07 pm

I CANNOT believe those that call us Shallow Altans. I didn't know aboout the fatalities until around 2pm so my main thoughts were about the daycare and the houses around the crash all day. You don't know how much I wanted to get onto the computer and find out what had happened. "Shallow" Alto is full of loving, caring people that just weren't prepared for something this tragic to happen. My Spanish teacher that has been working at JLS for some time told us that nothing like this had ever happen in all of her years here. Since we are a technically advanced school system, yes, not all of our schoolwork was accomplished, but it doesn't mean we are all spoiled brats who have twelve computers and have a personal cook. Palo Alto should not be percieved as such. It is an amazing city with people who have respect for the less fortunate and my prayers are to the families of the victims.


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Posted by jt
a resident of another community
on Feb 17, 2010 at 9:11 pm

"Who is going to compensate the over 100,000 people who have lost a day of their lives?"

You people from Palo Alto are unbelievable. "Lost a day of their lives." How about losing your spouse or father? Forever. How does that compare with not being able to watch daytime television?

I suspect you are a serial non-achiever with way too much time on your hands. Maybe a government 'lifer'. I can't get my head around morons like you. How can you survive in society so long? Clearly an example that natural selection has it's flaws.


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Posted by YSK
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 17, 2010 at 9:15 pm

Thank you City of Palo Alto and PG&E for doing such a great job with everything from notifications to the restoration of our power!


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Posted by jt
a resident of another community
on Feb 17, 2010 at 9:23 pm

"you are eight times more likely to die in a multi-engine airplane with an engine out than in a single-engine plane with the engine out."

Nonsense. Utter, complete nonsense. Reference please.

Refrain from posting sensationalist factoids.

Think about what you have said. You have just invalidated the entire rational behind decades of manufacturers building twins.

If you lose an engine in a twin, almost all the time (There are exceptions) you stand a good chance of making an uneventful engine out landing at an airport. The exception is where you are at an altitude and weight where the is insufficient power to maintain altitude or climb and need to do so to reach an airport.

If you lose an engine in a single, you are going down and had better be within glide range of an airport or a reasonable off airport alternative AND be able to make a precision landing. If these two criteria are not met, it is not good.

The only statistic worth adding, and this IS a fact, that an off airport landing in a twin is less survivable than the same in a single. This is simply because twins usually have a higher stall speed and greater inertia. But there has to be a reason why you would be doing an off airport landing in a twin in the first place. This morning's situation, we still have to wait for the cause.


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Posted by YSK
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 17, 2010 at 9:24 pm

Some people are never happy. Complain about and criticize everything. In 36 years of living here, including Loma Prieta, this is the longest we ever went without power...pretty stellar record...and a loss of power is nothing compared to the loss of three lives. If it's who I hear it is, I met at least one if not all of those guys last year. very sad. Yeah there are thousands of car accidents each year, the major difference is in most cases, the loved ones of those victims didn't have to see the circumstances splayed all over the media over and over again. Understandably necessary, but still horribly painful and traumatic for their families.


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Posted by David Schie
a resident of another community
on Feb 17, 2010 at 9:31 pm

I am a pilot based at Palo Alto, presently training IFR. I can tell you that training requirements, FAA test & currency requirements and airport procedures are extremely rigorous and the operations at the airport are exemplary.

It is tragic that deaths occurred, however, please consider the following:

1. If you recall the scenes from Haiti, most of the early images were of the local airport acting as the primary supply and staging area to aid victims and recover from the tragedy. I suspect the Palo Alto airport would be of similar value to Palo Alto in such a circumstance.

2. The airport is a significant contributer to the local economy. It allows numerous visitors to visit the area, and also supports numerous jobs in mechanical service, education, retail, food, and a number of local flight clubs.

3. Not to minimize any tragedy, but I would invite readers to consider how many accidents and deaths have occurred on the strip of asphalt a half mile west of the airport - HWY 101. If each accident and fatality on this primary artery were reported in the detail of each plane accident the perception of the highway would be very poor. I suspect the statistics for this strip of highway are far worse than a previous writers statistic of one flying fatality at Palo Alto every three years. Hwy accidents have caused significant inconvenience, tragedy and delays yet we maintain our highways as a key transportation alternative and so it should be with Palo Alto Airport.


4. A previous writers imaging of the risk to homes destroyed by pilot and aircraft seems exaggerated in that the comment is preceeded by a report of "75 accidents in the past 35 years (about 15% of them fatal)". With the bay to the North, South and East and rules in place to avoid built up areas, I suspect that a very small number of homes have been or are at risk or have been so afflicted by operations at Palo Alto.

5. Many, if not most, recreational pilots at Palo Alto airport are not from an elite group but rather a group of hard working enthusiasts who chose to invest in this pass time thereby benefitting many others. The local flight clubs are social groups who get together to watch films, socialize, and travel together to interesting locales.

6. It is very unlucky, but also of very low probability, that this tragedy involved the primary power conduit for three cities and struck a support structure that was difficult to repair quickly. I do not believe that any of the 75 accidents reported earlier in the past 35 years ever had a similar result.

I would ask all readers to consider the benefits of Palo Alto airport and its positive effect on the community over the years. The airport is well run, and tucked away on the edge of the Bay. Although no transportation alternative is risk free, its record and benefits outweigh those risks. Palo Alto airport deserves your support.


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Posted by merc reporter
a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 17, 2010 at 9:33 pm

are any local pilots willing to speak on or off the record about flying in fog, flying w/ instrumentation, flying twin
engine planes. etc.?

i'm a writer w/ the Mercury News and we're trying to get smarter about the issue, learning what possible challenges & potential risks are. we're starting from scratch.

thanks in advance. i can be reached at lkrieger@mercurynews.com


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Posted by Doug Kelly, M.D.
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 17, 2010 at 9:37 pm

I am a pilot with a plane at Palo Alto, which frankly was one of the reasons I moved here many years ago. Some Stanford trauma doctor friends of mine just got back from Haiti, and according to them, lack of airport access to deliver supplies and people was a huge hinderance in the relief effort, and resulted in many deaths. In any natural disaster here in the Bay Area, the airports are also critical, and serve us all. If you don't think it can happen here, think again.

With regard to this accident, no sane person gets into an airplane and says they want to die today and crash into a neighborhood, and that is the reason that most of the pilots at Palo Alto undergo rigorous recurrency training. No amount of training is going to eliminate all risk, in anything; car, bike, bus, life. Nobody asks to shut down the bus lines when a pedestrian is accidently killed, and nobody asks to shut down the roads when innocent lives are taken in an accident. We all do our best, which is what makes this accident so sad. The person flying the plane was a flight instructor, which meat that his job was teaching safety. The good people at the Palo Alto airport are like my family, and my heart aches for their and our loss, and for the damage to the peoples' property on the ground in East Palo Alto.


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Posted by Zoran
a resident of another community
on Feb 17, 2010 at 9:45 pm

My thoughts and prayers are with victims families. I frequently fly out of this airport, and like other pilots I always put safety as my number one priority. It is to soon and inappropriate to speculate on the cause of this crash.


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Posted by Paul
a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 17, 2010 at 9:49 pm

"The airport is a significant contributer to the local economy."

Do its contributions balance the economic losses that Palo Alto incurred today? How do you sell that point to the people who had to close their businesses today?


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Posted by Anon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 17, 2010 at 9:49 pm

Great Job to City Of Palo OR P.G.&E. or whoever got the power up ... thank you!

That said, I am looking foward to learning a lot of new and good information in the coming days.

My prejudice is that I think our bay fronting land in Palo Alto is better if we do not have an airport. The noise has been my biggest problem. Mtn. View could never have Shoreline Amphitheater or park if they had such a constant racket out there.

It would be much nice to have the yacht harbor back with some recreational facilities that serve real people instead of the jet setting folks who have to have airplanes.

I go biking and running out by Byxbee Park almost daily, and there are a lot of people out there. The parking lot out there is often full, and the facilities are overloaded and a total mess. This whole area would me much nice without an airport in my opinion. It is really getting rundown. Palo Alto should set a new direction for the future to make this area a showcase instead of a dump. And I am not even mentioning the smell of the sewage treatment plant which should be fixed too. Go hike out by the Sunnyvale dump and you never smell anything foul like you do almost everyday in Palo Alto.

It seems to me that there are a lot of pilots that fly over Palo Alto proper and make a lot of noise, not to mention the commercial aviation that overflies in the middle of the night and rouses us from our sleep.

Quality of life and property values go hand in hand, and this city is becoming very negligent of maintenance and setting a people centric direction for development.


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Posted by petercarp
a resident of Atherton
on Feb 17, 2010 at 9:59 pm

petercarp is a registered user.

We have just was the impact of no electricity for about 12 hours. Now just imagine no electricity for 3-4 weeks, no water for 3 months and no passable roads for weeks and guess what life would be like. That is what will happen when, not if, we have the next big earthquake.

Today was a wake up call - how quickly will the memories fade? Or will people actually start take responsibility for being prepared to survive a disaster?


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Posted by Pray for EPA
a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 17, 2010 at 9:59 pm

We are Palo Altan and we own properties in EPA which are one block away from Beech.The streets are mess, people are frustrated and scared.
We pray peace and safety in EPA. Best wishes for people living in that area.


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Posted by John Baum
a resident of Triple El
on Feb 17, 2010 at 10:03 pm

1) It is unrealistic to argue that the Palo Alto Airport will be of use in delivering relief supplies locally in the event of a significant earthquake. It is built on bay fill and the runway will most likely be so badly buckled as to be useless until well after recovery is underway.

2) It was interesting to observe that the airport was back in business with planes flying in and out as usual when more productive businesses contributing to the local economy were shut down until the end of the normal business day. Any analysis of the economic contribution of the airport should have the cost of this day to local businesses charged against its operations. In the past there have been reports that without current subsidies it would have to close.

3) Above, a pilot commented that if a single engine plane loses power it goes down. I hold my breath every time I see one playing around over town.

4) Here's a more realistic plan for the use of the land now occupied by the airport.

a) The end nearest to the creek could be used for a small harbor. Boats do not fall out of the sky on peoples houses. The harbor the town once had needed to be closed when the creek was realigned and its flow could no longer be used to clear silt from the harbor.

b) The remaining land could be used for the proposed composting operation and a recycling center.

Let's not wait until there is another accident.


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Posted by another mom from Palo Alto
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 17, 2010 at 10:11 pm

Nobody knew what the cause was for about an hour. Once we knew it was a plane crash, of course we were all concerned...we still didn't know if there were any fatalities. Again, once we knew, of course everyone felt pangs of sorrow for those on the plane. I don't think most people knew about the whole story of how several houses with people and children, in particular, were damaged as well. It is a miracle nobody on the ground was hurt. Can we celebrate that please and feel thankful for it? We all feel regret: what if the pilot had decided the fog was too thick and decided to postpone? But we don't know what the whole story is: was there engine trouble, were there serious job-related pressures for the plane to make its planned flight on time, was there anything the flight control tower could have done, etc. Personally, I think if an electric tower was taken out, the utilities folks have done an astounding job to restore power as quickly as they did...thank you! The many updates on the phone from the City were reassuring and honest. I am sure that every family and the city can use this experience to better their "emergency" preparedness, but overall I think everyone did fine: our small police force, the school system, individuals driving carefully, crossing guards who became "traffic cops"... and let's stop complaining about a whole day lost; in a way it was a gift: the weather was beautiful, all the neighborhood kids were out playing and socializing well past 6 pm, grownups were in their front yards chatting...I felt proud of being in this community: everyone was out trying to figure things out together. The critics from other communities should find something more real to judge us by than the comments of a few exasperated Palo Altans; it is human nature to reflect on one's own life and difficulties, especially as a first-off reflex...unfortunately our online community is excellent for capturing our immediate and uncensured thoughts and showing them to the whole world. But let's not judge us based on that. I am going to check the Google support group for the victims that petercarp said he's set up. What a good idea...I'm sure we can all help raise funds to help rebuild their house(s). Thank you!


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Posted by people helping people
a resident of another community
on Feb 17, 2010 at 10:33 pm

three or more cheers to another mother from PA - duveneck/st francis

clearly this is an accident due to weather and pilot - which highlighted the delicate complex dependancy of our communities - hopefully it will create an outreach to those who lost houses, lives not just inconvenience due to loss of power -
the world is shrinking - look over the fence and lend a hand!


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Posted by Doug Kelly, M.D.
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 17, 2010 at 11:23 pm

It is completely realistic, and in fact, planned on that Palo Alto airport can supply relief operations. The capacity of the Palo Alto airport is limited by the length of the runway, not the weight of the aircraft per se. Fully loaded turboprops and life flight helicopters routinely take off and land there every day. There is no history of "runway buckling" at Palo Alto (easy enough to check with airport management and public records, vs. just making spurious statements) , and such talk is uninformed. Planes flying in and out of there now in the absence of a working tower with no electricity in fact argue that relief operations are extremely viable even in the absence of electricity, relying solely on pilot to pilot communications. When you have a sucking chest wound because your house fell down on you in an earthquake, a compost facility won't be of much help. A doctor or nurse flying in with a bunch of supplies might, though. Maybe you'll be the first to volunteer to refuse such aid. I guess you could take sailboat...


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Posted by Rich
a resident of Mountain View
on Feb 17, 2010 at 11:33 pm

Just to post some authoritative aviation-related information:

Web Link has a lot of information about the value of aviation and smaller airports such as the one at Palo Alto.

Web Link is a yearly report compiling statistics on general aviation accidents. It requires some aviation-specific knowledge to draw conclusions from the data, but it's there. I will highlight that in 2007 the number of fatal accidents in the entire US was 252, with 449 fatalities. These things make the news because they are rare. More people than that die every day from smoking. We need to keep this all in perspective.

Rather than any call for airport action, we should console the families of the deceased and look to learn from the difficulties of today, not point fingers and complain.


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Posted by Billy
a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 18, 2010 at 6:13 am

> The airport is a significant contributer to the local economy.

This is simply not true. There is very little evidence to this effect. It is a small airport, which is on tax-exempt property. The pilots have done everything in the collective power to avoid paying the true costs of the airport--pushing them onto the non-flying public through any number of means. The airport was on the very of financial collapse in the mid-1950, when it was taken over by the County. The fight operations (tower) was built by the Federal Government, and the tower operations are paid for by the FCC--meaning the US taxpayers, not the pilots or plane owner.

The County can not account for all of the expenditures of the past 30 years. And there is a plan to refurbish this airport which will be paid for by the taxpayers, not the pilots.

All-in-all, this airport probably runs a `1.5M deficit (expenditure vs generated revenues). On top of this deficit, to claim that there are "significant economic benefits to the region" is simply beyond disingenous, it's down right dishonest!

This airport benefits the pilots, and a small number of busineses. This airport needs to be shut down as quickly as possible.

> I bet that there have been 75000 automobile accidents in
> Palo Alto during that time. Time to close Alma Street.

The police do not keep statistic back that far, as the FAA does. However, there has been no evidence that any one of the doubtless thousands of traffic accidents that have shut down the city (and beyond) for a whole day!



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Posted by Billy
a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 18, 2010 at 6:57 am

> It is completely realistic, and in fact, planned on that
> Palo Alto airport can supply relief operations.

With Moffett Field, a military airfield, only 10 miles to the south, the Palo Alto airfield is going to be "significant" in relief operations? Really? .. Get a grip!


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Posted by andrea
a resident of Community Center
on Feb 18, 2010 at 7:44 am

The death of three people on the plane is a great tragedy, but the pilot's decision to take off in extremely thick fog and near zero visibility was incredibly reckless and could have resulted in the death of many. It is high time to start discussing the shut down of the Palo Alto airport. It is a menace to the surrounding communities. Unbearable noise pollution and constant danger. It contributes nothing and serves mostly as a playground for the nouveau riche and their expensive toys.


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Posted by Pilot@KPAO
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Feb 18, 2010 at 7:54 am

For the judgemental people demonstrating their ignorance of the aviation system and Palo Alto airport, please consider the 750+ people who died in car crashes this week, and every week of the year, approx. 40,000 per yr. Many of those have hit power boxes and poles shutting down power to communities all over the nation.

None of you are advocating shutting down the noisey road system or judging the drivers decisions that led to the accidents, or how rich and privileged auto drivers are. Piloting takes at least average intelligence, dedication, and extrodinary discipline and cost a lot less than raising a family.

We have the best aviation system on the planet and yes on rare occasion accidents do happen. Wish I could say the same for our road system.


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Posted by gerald
a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 18, 2010 at 8:17 am

Pilot@KPAO, people can't use planes to go to work, to the grocery store, to drop their kids off at school or to a doctor appointment, so comparing the Palo Alto airport to our road and freeway system is nonsensical. We should certainly have better roads, although we refuse to pay the taxes necessary to build and maintain them and we certainly allow too many bad and dangerous drivers to own and operate cars, but that does not change the fact that the P.A. airport is a total nuisance which benefits the the community not at all. Like a previous poster has indicated, It is nothing more than a playground where the nouveau riche are allowed to play with their expensive toys. We must shut that airport down.


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Posted by The Real Sharon
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 18, 2010 at 8:31 am

"Taking off in thick fog and flying in the wrong direction is not excusable
If these people were flying on Tesla business then Tesla is in serious trouble, their IPO is a non starter.
How many $millions were lost to PA businesses today?
The flight conditions at 8 AM were not right for a take off from PA airport.
Many innocent people in EPA could have been killed and thousands of people were without power and work"

Well, Sharon did not take long to jump in her with her expert analysis.
No need to wait for the facts to come out or an investigation to be completed--the pilot was to blame, the conditions were not right, Tesla is dead as a business. End of story


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 18, 2010 at 8:35 am

This accident brings to light the fact that the airport is actually becoming more and more of an important economic source for Palo Alto. Tesla is one of many local companies that send off executives to meetings from Palo Alto airport rather than having to deal with one of the major airports. The cause of the accident is not known, but like all accidents, it has to be investigated so that the same can't happen again.

But the truth is that this airport is meeting a commercial need for local businesses and may even be a factor for why some businesses are locating here. In my opinion, the City should be more welcoming and looking at ways to boost the airport and making the users of the airport spend money in Palo Alto. We should be looking at ways to get restaurants and other service businesses opening near the airport to attract airport users. We should see if public transport should serve the airport e.g. run the Embarcadero shuttle all the way to the airport from downtown, etc.

People should start looking at the airport from what it is, a commercial/business amenity and not look at it as a playground for the rich. I doubt if any of the 3 in the plane yesterday would like to have been considered billionaires playing with their expensive toys, rather business people using a local amenity to get them where they needed to go in a 21st century manner.


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Posted by gerald
a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 18, 2010 at 8:59 am

" This accident brings to light the fact that the airport is actually becoming more and more of an important economic source for Palo Alto." This statement is factually dubious at best, but even if true, as always, financial concerns are always more important than safety concerns, or the fact that the noise these small air crafts cause is intolerable. One day another pilot is going to make another reckless decision and maybe that time the daycare center won't be so lucky, but hey, the airport is "an important economic economic source for Palo Alto".


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Posted by Billy
a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 18, 2010 at 9:22 am

Web Link

Plane crashes into Austin building

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Authorities are investigating a reported plane crash into a seven-story office building in north Austin.
Black smoke was coming from the building Thursday morning. The building is located on a major highway in the city.


Dawn Clopton, a division chief with the Austin Fire Department, said two people from the building are unaccounted for. She said it was a small private plane that crashed. There was no other immediate information.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Video Coverage:
Web Link


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Posted by Billy
a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 18, 2010 at 9:26 am

It would take a little work, but it is very possible that this crash has cost Palo Alto, and its neighboring communities, about $100M in lost productivity, three people their lives, a couple of people their houses. Who is going to pay for all of this damage, and lost productivity? The estates of the pilot? Not likely. The County, which is the operator of the airport? Not likely.

So .. who?

> Many of those have hit power boxes and poles shutting down
< power to communities all over the nation.

Really? Care to provide a couple of links to bolster your claim?


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 18, 2010 at 9:40 am

Gerald and Billy

Maybe the next accident won't be from Palo Alto airport, but instead from Moffett or SFO, Palo Alto is in the flight path of both and accidents are just as likely to happen to planes using those airports as Palo Alto airport.

Money has been lost due to a day's lost productivity, but that is life. Any business knows that even a localized power outage (squirrels caused one recently) can harm their day's productivity and have to accept it. It is called life.

Damage has to be repaired and lives are altered. Fortunately no one was hurt or killed on the ground. However, we cannot prevent every possible remote occurrance.

There are more accidents on the Caltrain tracks in Palo Alto or nearby (accidents not suicides) than accidents at the airport and no one seriously suggests shutting down Caltrain.


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Posted by Rich
a resident of Mountain View
on Feb 18, 2010 at 9:54 am

> Who is going to pay for all of this damage

Why do so many people treat events like these as a chance to be compensated for their inconvenience? Do I need to be compensated when I hit an unexpected traffic jam on 101? How about if a storm comes in and knocks out power to my business, who should I sue then, mother nature? Back when 9/11 happened, almost every small aviation business in the Bay Area was grounded for well over a month - there was no reason for that, and there was never any compensation given.

Things just happen folks. This was not an intentional act. It's not time to sue anyone.

As for the airport, think beyond the world you directly live in and interact with everyday - the other people you interact with may depend on the airport in some way that you don't. All of those who do not see a direct benefit of the airport should look at where their taxes go. We all pay for government services we don't get a direct benefit from, but the indirect benefits are there for every one of those services, if hard to quantify. Imagine dropping road maintenance because someone who rides Caltrain doesn't need it, or police/fire services because they never call them, or trash pickup for someone who composts and recycles everything. What about the golf course? I guess the city should let it dry up too because not everyone plays golf. Come on.

The public perception of general aviation is misguided, and I urge anyone who thinks the airport is all about the "nouveau riche" and "their expensive toys" to go out to the airport on a Saturday and talk to people. This portrayal is simply is not true. Educate yourselves.


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Posted by MEA
a resident of another community
on Feb 18, 2010 at 10:33 am

This wasn't an act of god, it was poor decision making by the pilot. The decision to take off in dense fog was a bad decision with horrible consequences. I'm wondering why the airport was open for business and why pilots weren't grounded? It seems to me that there was negligence by the pilot as well as the operators of the airport and I think there should be legal consequences so our communities don't have to suffer for these poor decisions. This wasn't just an accident this was totally avoidable. You shouldn't take off when visibility is zero. If they had waited two hours we wouldn't of had a problem and four people wouldn't be dead.


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Posted by Billy
a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 18, 2010 at 10:33 am

> How about if a storm comes in and knocks out power to my business,
> who should I sue then, mother nature?

Acts of nature are very different that what we are talking about here. In this case, an amateur pilot (even though licensed, this fellow does not qualify as a professional pilot) decided to fly his personal aircraft on his company's business (or so it would seem from the yet-to-be-fully reported news on this crash), rather than flying a commercial airline. What would the commercial tickets have cost? Maybe $300-$400, and 30 dollars in parking costs.

So .. this fellow turned a $300 dollar expenditure into a (possibly) $100M loss for PA and surroundings.

>it's not an intentional act ..

Maybe .. but intentional or not, the owner of the aircraft, and the pilot, really should be financially responsible for any damage they do. The Commercial airlines most certainly are. So for people who live in Palo Alto (or around any small airport), are we supposed to watch our home go up in smoke and not blame the pilot for the damage he has done to our home, on those occasions where planes crash into homes? If we are not responsible for the damage that others can do to us, and they are not .. then people near airports need to band together, and get the law changed to require pilots (aircraft owners) to carry enough insurance to cover a typical multi-residence crash site.

Actually, most airports do carry insurance in the $100M range, but who it covers is not exactly clear. Certainly if this pilot had crashed into the tie-down area of the airport, and taken out maybe 25 aircraft, the owners of those aircraft would certainly be looking to collect from someone. No doubt they would be looking to the airport's insurance for compensation.


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Posted by Doug Kelly, M.D.
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 18, 2010 at 10:40 am

I have participated in several simulated disaster relief and planning operations as part of city and county emergency services preparations in California and elsewhere, and smaller airports are considered central to that planning, even with larger facilities nearby. It is true that Moffett Field would likely be used for heavy lift (ie. C-17/C130) operations. At the same time, smaller airports are also critical, because much of the relief operation will require smaller aircraft going both to and from smaller communities, and you would not want to allocate runway at Moffett for required smaller aircraft when you have available airspace and airfield capacity nearby. Not everything coming in or out of the Bay Area is going to come by the ton on a pallet. In fact, much of the air ambulance operations are probably not going to come through Moffett, but through Palo Alto and San Carlos airports. In Haiti we saw how quickly POP airport was incapacitated by crowding of large aircraft, and many smaller aircraft bringing in special surgical supplies were turned away, which incapacitated special orthopedic and neurosurgical teams flown in from the New York to the point that they left. If they had a smaller airport nearby, you can be assured it would have been used at full capacity. Most disaster planning scenarios show that Palo Alto is likely to fare far better than surrounding communities in a natural disaster and especially than the East Bay because we have (1) a Level 1 trauma center at Stanford Hospital (and excellent facilities at El Camino and Sequoia), and (2) the Palo Alto airport. You can dispute these facts, but you wouldn't have any data to support it.

As for how Palo Alto airport is used day to day, many of my partners use small aircraft to get to smaller communities that cannot support a full orthopedic or pediatric reconstructive surgeons. It is not glamorous, but it is critical. As for people who claim that the airport is used by the "nouveau riche", well, I don't make judgements how you or others choose to spend their money in our free society, and I don't think it is anyone's place to do so either. The fact is that the vast majority of aircraft at Palo Alto are small, and represent a significant percentage of the owners' net worth. In addition, a large percentage of the aircraft are owned by more than one person, or are leased to flying clubs to share the costs, because airplanes, even small ones, are very expensive. I am one of 5 partners in my airplane, because I couldn't afford to own it myself. Most of the people I know at the airport are of middle class or modest means, (which is why they fly at a flying club) so claims of elitism don't wash either. It is easy to make silly statements about a community when you don't know anybody there. There is another word for people who prejudge others without knowing them, and I thought we Californians were supposed to be better than that.


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Posted by Shocked
a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 18, 2010 at 10:44 am

That someone from Palo Alto, one of the wealthiest communities in the world, calls somebody else, on an online forum "nouveau riche" is so pregnant with irony, I don't even know where to begin.


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Posted by Billy
a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 18, 2010 at 10:47 am

> As for how Palo Alto airport is used day to day, many of my partners
> use small aircraft to get to smaller communities that cannot support a > full orthopedic or pediatric reconstructive surgeons

That's nice. But you could use San Carlos airport, or if PAO were moved to Moffett Field, you could use that. To suggest that this airport is "critical" to anything is simply disingenuous.


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Posted by Anna
a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 18, 2010 at 11:26 am

It's hard to square the poor-mouthing by Palo Alto Airport users with some of the commentary here about the absence of "elitism" in the flying community with publicly available information. In fact the average income of airplane owners nationwide is in excess of $250,000 acording to the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association. Even around here, that's a lot of money.

Doug Kelly wants to come across as an everyman, but in fact the only Doug Kelly MD in Old Palo Alto - according to public records and Google - is a venture capitalist at Alloy Ventures. He owns TWO houses in Old Palo Alto, one of which he purchased for in excess of $4 Million dollars, along with a home in Woodside.

It's quite true, as he says, that in our society people should be able to spend their money on whatever they like. That includes the uber- and nouveau- rich airport supporters say aren't representative of airplane owners at Palo Alto Airport (despite the obvious example of evidence to the contrary presented here).

It's not what the rich spend on their indulgences that is the issue: rather it's that PAO is subsidized by the masses of their less well off neighbors who have to put up with the noise pollution they cause - and more importantly, the endangerment to innocents on the ground your hobby poses.

Spend your money how you please, rich or non rich pilots, but don't burden us with paying for or guaranteeing your expensive hobby. And stop trying to explain to us that your so called backup emergency capacity is worth to us the danger and nuisance you cause to thousands of us every single day you fly.


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Posted by andrea
a resident of Community Center
on Feb 18, 2010 at 11:54 am

Any financial analysis would prove that the airport generates at best minimal financial revenues for Palo Alto and none for EPA which it borders. It is subsidized though by Palo Alto tax payers. We see again how we have socialism for the well-to-do and capitalism for all others. And we can't put monetary value on the extreme noise pollution and diminished quality of life for many Palo Alto and EPA residents, in addition of the perpetual mortal danger to residents due to stupid pilot decisions, mechanical breakdown or sheer show off by the nouveau Riche. I believe that a ballot measure aimed to shut down this unnecessary playground for self-absorbed boys who refuse to grow up is way overdue.


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Posted by Airport User
a resident of another community
on Feb 18, 2010 at 12:14 pm

Tomorrow a patient will be flown from one of the hundreds of rural communities in CA to Palo Alto Airport for treatment at Stanford. At no charge to the patient as all costs are absorbed by the volunteer pilots. Once one leaves the Bay Area, the state becomes impossibly large, terribly rugged, and often poor. The patients have the choice of no treatment, six, nine, and even twelve hour drives (if they have a car), or a flight to Palo Alto. The airport is a critical link in providing care.


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Posted by Res
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 18, 2010 at 12:28 pm

I read that there was 1 mile visibility when that plane took off, and that this is allowed under current regulations. Is that enough visibilty for amateur aircraft taking off over densely populated areas? Why not increase to 3 or 4 miles? Also, all planes are suppose to turn NW after takeoff, but this plane veered south over EPA. The pilot was experienced and instrument certified so I don't think this flight path was intentional. Must have been a serious mechanical problem.


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Posted by judy
a resident of College Terrace
on Feb 18, 2010 at 1:39 pm

There's a perfectly fine airport in San Carlos that can service patients or doctors needing to travel to rural areas. The 3 unfortunate victims could have easily used a commercial flight out of San Jose. If they had, they would still be alive. This airport represents a permanent danger and source of intolerable noise pollution to many neighborhood and to the unfortunate city of EPA which is an unwilling victim to the playground of affluent Palo Altans playing with expensive and unnecessary toys. This totally unnecessary airport needs to be shut down, the sooner the better.


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Posted by anonymous
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 18, 2010 at 2:19 pm

San Jose Merc reported that area commercial airports were delaying flights so why would a pilot at itty-bitty Palo Alto airport think it was OK to fly in that all-encompassing fog early yesterday AM? Clearly the pilot made a "judgement call"


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Posted by Rich
a resident of Mountain View
on Feb 18, 2010 at 2:21 pm

> There's a perfectly fine airport in San Carlos [or Moffett Field]

Ah, there it is. NIMBY. This could happen near any airport.

Respectfully, if we followed this argument to the logical conclusion there would be no airports anywhere, including the air carrier airports. There go any future pilots to fly for the airlines, and you can say goodbye to your future Hawaii vacations or family trips to San Diego.

> law changed to require pilots (aircraft owners) to carry
> enough insurance to cover a typical multi-residence crash site

Do you know that this pilot/aircraft was not insured? I don't. Don't assume.

Also, to correct one other misconception: Many people who fly at Palo Alto *are* professional pilots. The size of the airplane you fly in only very loosely correlates to qualification level. A private pilot canot fly a 737, but a 10,000 hour ATP-rated airline captain can fly a Cessna 310 or any other small aircraft. Just as the guy next to you on the freeway could be Mario Andretti or a 16 year old who just picked up their license, you cannot say that one gets to use the roadway and one does not. It is public infrastructure.

There are always going to be diffences of opinion and value of various public assets. For those on the "close the airport" side of the fence, please do some research to actually learn what the airport does for the community instead of just complaining about it with no experience/knowledge/data. Please. Stop by any of the flying clubs or businesses at the airport and ask to talk to a flight instructor or other employee and bring your list of questions. Anyone on the airport, from student pilot to flight instructor to mechanic will be willing and able to explain any questions you may have if you bring a constructive attitude to the discussion.


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Posted by sarlat
a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 18, 2010 at 2:38 pm

Rich, obviously, if you talk to flight instructors or students at the airport they would tell you how great it is and that it shouldn't be shut down. The foreign fighters in Iraq will also tell you how important it is for them to stay. This airport doesn't serve any purpose beside being a playground for nuevo riche and nuevo riche wannabees. It puts neighborhood in jeopardy, the noise is annoying as hell and a neighboring city, EPA without any political clout is a hapless victim to rich white men playing with their toys. I am a well of white Palo Altans and I hate violence, but I can't even count the number of times I wished I had a shoulder-launched missile so I could shoot at one of those air craft when it was buzzing above my house and drowning all conversation. If anything good came out of this tragedy it's now we can start an imitativeness to shut this damn thing down.


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Posted by anonymous
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 18, 2010 at 2:44 pm

Living quite near the airport (see above for our neighborhood location), and wishing to enjoy the nature of the Palo Alto Baylands where this little airport is placed, we unavoidably have to hike near the airport. Over the years I have seen a very high proportion of "flights" being trainees doing takeoffs and landings in a great big circle OVER THE BAY. Once in a while you see a totally cool twin engine craft zoom in.
What this sad episode reminds me of is JFK jr., who took two ladies with him...


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Posted by Ralph Britton
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 18, 2010 at 3:06 pm

As co-chair of the Palo Alto Airport Working Group (since dissolved upon completion of its report)appointed by then-Mayor Kleinberg, I can unequivically state that the airport is not supported by county or city general fund tax revenue. Operation is supported by user fees and a report by the city auditor confirms this. FAA support for tower operations and grant authorizations comes from fuel and other Federal taxes directly on aviation. It is simply not true that residents are paying for pilot's recreation. The complete report is available on the City of Palo Alto's website.

It is asserted by some that the airport is simply a playground for the rich. The makeup of users probably rather closely reflects that of the surrounding communities. Users vary from wealthy owners of high-end aircraft down to those who rent the simplest aircraft while learning to fly, and then only when they have cash ahead to afford it. Many aircraft are shared among multiple owners and many of these are simple machines that are not new.

The airport has been in operation at its current site since 1935. Yesterday's tragic accident is, to my knowledge, the first where private residences have been endangered. While all of us in the airport community mourn the loss of three of our colleages in the crash, we are thankful no one on the ground was injured.


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Posted by Sam
a resident of another community
on Feb 18, 2010 at 3:29 pm

Ironic that electrical power lines took the lives of employees of a electric car company.


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Posted by andrea
a resident of Community Center
on Feb 18, 2010 at 3:52 pm

Ralph Britton, but the land is owned by the citizens of Palo Alto who make it possible for the pilots to play around, even if the pay user fees. We could find much better use for the land, something that will not involve massive air and noise pollution, disturbance to wild life, general environmental damage and permanent mortal hazard to thousands of people. And I wonder how you would explain to the residents of EPA, whose quality of life, not that great to begin with, the presence of this rich boys playground that will forever decrease it. [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


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Posted by Walter_E_Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 18, 2010 at 4:03 pm

Walter_E_Wallis is a registered user.

It is not possible to buy a house in East Palo Alto unaware of the adjacent airport, industry and freeways, just as when you buy a house near the tracks you know it is there and that location is factored into the price. I am more annoyed by leaf blowers and lawnmowers,but that is a price we pay for the advantages we enjoy. Anyone living in EPA is welcome to move somewhere else if they have the geetus. I cannot write a check on Al Gores' account, Is that banking racism or what?


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Posted by Jim
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 18, 2010 at 4:32 pm

What's very possible is to shut-down a playground for jocks, nuevo riche and nuevo riche wannabees and find better use for the land. Suburbs don't need airports and there are two perfectly serviceable airports for those who want to travel by air within a 25 mile radius-SFO and San Jose. Those who want to play aviator will just have to find another playground, far, far away.


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Posted by Hagrid
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 18, 2010 at 4:36 pm

I have lived in midtown for decades, and have been flying for over 30 years as a commercial pilot and instructor -- I owned a small Cessna and kept it at Palo Alto Airport for years, using to to commute to work in Santa Cruz County on a daily basis. I flew relief operations from Reid-Hillview and Palo Alto airports into Watsonville when no roads were open to that community following the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake.

Palo Alto Airport has been right there since 1924. The power lines were not there, and neither was the dump or the sewage treatment plant. How smart do you think it was to put up 100-foot-tall high-voltage power lines and towers all around an airport? How smart was it to put a landfill operation that attracts thousands of swarming seagulls on a daily basis to the approach end (short final, when we're "low and slow") of an airport? How many of you think that all pilots are rich white men? How many of you know that the aircraft traffic pattern at Palo Alto requires almost all maneuvering to be conducted over the bay, and that flying over residential neighborhoods is deeply frowned-upon (can be prosecuted) and allowed with few exceptions only to incoming arrivals which are typically descending toward the airport under low power?

The level of ignorance and prejudice exhibited here in the comments by Stu, Hmmm, John Green, Narnia, Darkness, Anna, Billy (especially you, Billy), Concerned Resident, Sharon, Paul, Anon, Gerald, MEA, Judy, Andrea and Sarlat is staggering. Please educate yourselves prior to spouting off with "facts" which are nothing more than ill-informed opinion.

The Nall Report is an annual safety report issued by the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) and is considered the main resource for information on general aviation accidents. You can read the latest one here: Web Link I recommend educating yourselves about this every important issue that clearly, many Palo Altans are concerned about. Perhaps with more solid information available to you, the decisions you make about the relative value of an airport in your community would be more reasonable.

AOPA may indeed report that the average income of an aircraft owner is $250,000, but please consider that a few billionaires with their Gulfstream jets (Larry Ellison anyone?) skew the income averages just a tad bit. If you were to conduct such a survey at any Bay Area general aviation airport, you would find that there are a half-dozen rich white men, and HUNDREDS of guys with very average incomes who love flying and sacrifice dearly for that love. Those who feel that we pilots rely on the subsidies provided by a tax-paying public, please consider that every American taxpayer in the USA partially subsidizes the entire system of airports in this country, including Palo Alto Airport, and that millions of people have made the conscious decision over many decades that the advantages to every community of having a nearby airport far outweighs the disadvantages.

Of course airplanes are noisy. They always have been, even before you bought your house right under the flight path of a well-established airport that has been there far longer than you. How's this for a reasonable suggestion: All real-estate transactions within 5 miles of ANY airport MUST disclose the existence of that airport to ANYONE considering purchasing a home or business within that radius. Would you care to guess which California Real Estate interests have paid millions of dollars to your local politicians to prevent such disclosure from being made?

My heart goes out to the families of the people on board the aircraft and to the people on the ground who were traumatized and bereft of their property. They will be compensated financially for their loss through insurance payments, but for now that is of little consolation.

Please do not advocate making decisions about eliminating community airports without thinking through all the facts, which means waiting for the facts to become available. The cause will be found and publicly reported eventually.


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Posted by anonymous
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 18, 2010 at 4:48 pm

I'm surprised "Hagrid" hasn't been hating on me.
I posted on the pilot thread that KGO radio had in their 4PM newscast that EPA's "spot shotter" technology picked up NO indication of engines malfunctioning (according to commentators and not indicating closure on that subject, of course) but they DID pick up the horrified screams of women and children on the ground in EPA with the unexpected horror of an exploding airplane in their midst. Airplanes are supposed to make a RIGHT hand turn and to blame EPA residents for living in EPA near the airport is to blame the victims in this case. Nobody would expect planes to make a turn to the left after takeoff - we are all assured PA Airport is safe - so now some say, oh you are to blame because you live in EPA! I don't, but I have had dear friends who live there and give my sympathy as a neighbor one mile away from the crash site.


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Posted by andrea
a resident of Community Center
on Feb 18, 2010 at 4:49 pm

"How many of you know that the aircraft traffic pattern at Palo Alto requires almost all maneuvering to be conducted over the bay, and that flying over residential neighborhoods is deeply frowned-upon (can be prosecuted) and allowed with few exceptions only to incoming arrivals which are typically descending toward the airport under low power?"

Apparently there isn't enough frowning or the frowning isn't taken very seriously by the pilots, because flying over residential areas is constant and frequent. Try to be in my house on Sunday nights, (Friday nights, Saturday and Sunday morning are plenty bad as well) trying to have a peaceful dinner, listen to music, or have a conversation. I wonder how many pilots have been reported by their peers for doing it, my guess would be zero. How many have been fined for doing it, regardless who complained? My guess would be zero again. What makes you think you are allowed to this to us, using land we collectively own?


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Posted by anonymous
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 18, 2010 at 4:50 pm

I am acquainted with an experienced professional corporate pilot in the midwest, I am going to email him to inquire what he makes of this unpleasant crash.


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Posted by Walter_E_Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 18, 2010 at 5:03 pm

Walter_E_Wallis is a registered user.

I have always recommended that the total relief for a complaint of airport noise would be for the airport to purchase the property at an agreed price, then resell it with an airplane noise easement.


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Posted by narnia
a resident of Menlo Park
on Feb 18, 2010 at 5:28 pm

hagrid says: "The level of ignorance and prejudice exhibited here in the comments by Stu, Hmmm, John Green, Narnia, Darkness, Anna, Billy (especially you, Billy), Concerned Resident, Sharon, Paul, Anon, Gerald, MEA, Judy, Andrea and Sarlat is staggering. Please educate yourselves prior to spouting off with "facts" which are nothing more than ill-informed opinion...."

Narnia actually flies a lot and she knew that SJ airport was delaying flights because of thick fog (that is the commercial pilots were doing that) so it stands to reason that the pilot in question should have made inquiries and delayed his flight. Many times tolerance and enthusiasm for personal risk translates into risking a catastrophe, no matter how lovely and kind the pilot is. I have no idea that that's the case here but everybody speaks about the pilot as a wonderful person. That being said commercial pilots where aware of the flying risks that morning....

This reminds me of John F Kennedy ill-fated flight to Martha's Vineyard- that day commercial pilots refused to fly because of the conditions-too bright a day leaves the ocean and sky without a defined horizon line. But J. F. Kennedy thought he would be fine..
How foolish!

The PA airport is here to stay I think, but when will they bring back a wonderful fully functioning harbor?


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Posted by gerald
a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 18, 2010 at 6:09 pm

I'm acquainted with a retired navy and TWA pilot living right here in the bay area and he told me that the pilot had no business taking off in such dense fog. He was surprised that apparently no peer or airport employee had advised him to wait for better visibility. Scores of children and adult had miraculously not been killed this time, but how would we have ever been able to look EPA residents in the eye if they had? [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


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Posted by Paul
a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 18, 2010 at 6:12 pm

"How smart do you think it was to put up 100-foot-tall high-voltage power lines and towers all around an airport? How smart was it to put a landfill operation that attracts thousands of swarming seagulls on a daily basis to the approach end (short final, when we're "low and slow") of an airport?"

Thank you for illustrating the huge hidden subsidies that airports demand. Just how much of the surrounding land do you want to be subordinated to your hobby? Are you willing to pay market value compensation for it? Do you offer a compensating public value, as SFO and SJC do? I don't think so.

Hagrid and friends, you are demanding much too much. If you cannot live with your neighbors, buy them out or move away.


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Posted by Anna
a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 18, 2010 at 6:34 pm

My goodness. The local airport lobby certainly has an efficient alert system. Any criticism of the airport brings out endless repetition of the same tired talking points from fevered up flying zealots. (If you peruse the Airplane Owners and Pilots Association website and its links, you'll find that the airplane lobby has a recommended attack strategy to use against citizens who object to the noise, danger and expense of general aviation subsidy.)

The airport supporters continually tell us to educate ourselves about the wonderful benefits the airport provides and then we'll see the light and think its great that we use scarce real estate to support their hobby.

But why should we go down and quiz flyboys at the airport when we've got plenty here writing post after lengthy post to "educate" us?

Yeah we understand that a few of you fly patients to be treated at Stanford. And we hear you when you tell us we need the airport in case there's an earthquake. But Reid-Hillview, San Carlos and Moffet can handle these things just as well. (And they can handle your joyriding too: you'll just have to drive a little farther on Saturday mornings.)

We just don't think the tenuous benefits of you hobby that you cite outweigh the noise, danger and lost opportunity to use the airport land for other purposes. Most of the PAO users are out of towners. And most are richer than the people they bother every weekend (no matter how many tendentious postings attempting to portray private plane users as "average" Joes. ...and by the way, Hagrid, the AOPA data on plane owner incomes is "Median", not average. Larry Ellison's wealth doesn't affect it at all. Perhaps while you're suggesting the rest of us get educated on your hobby, you can take a statistics refresher.)

Citys have to make choices about what to do with their scarce resources every day. Now that the county is turning responsiblilty for the airport over to Palo Alto, it's clearly OUR choice. The case for the city continuing operation of PAO for the benefit of a well off few while burdening and endangering the majority of residents of PA and neighboring cities is very weak.

Let's use the obvious reminder of the danger to the rest of us that the airport poses as a time to take action on closing this death dealing noise factory once and for all. Anyone up for starting a "close the airport" initiative petition?


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Posted by Daniel
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Feb 18, 2010 at 6:58 pm

Anna, wonderful post and please count me in on a "close the airport" initiative petition. I have hated this airport with a passion for many years and my hatred has intensified with every passing year.


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Posted by Sharon
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 18, 2010 at 7:01 pm



The main issue, for trial lawyer, before the lights came back on was --LIABILITY--

1/ PA airport seems clear, no other pilots took off between 7am and 8am because they saw and were made aware of the fog.
All their very very few fatalities involved drunk or disoriented pilots

2/ The aircraft has a great reliability record going back 50yrs, the EPA sound detector did not record any sounds of engine malfunction according to SJMN.

3/ PA is clear, the power lines, PG&Es, have been there for ever and pilots are required to turn right, not left on takeoff to avoid them as well as populated areas on take off.

4/ Three people are dead, all were Tesla employees on Tesla business flying to a Tesla location during working hours.
Homes and property was destroyed in EPA.
PA lost millions in revenue and thousands of people lost food and time, there were a number of car accidents

Tesla Cell phone and email records must have been captured already, no doubt.

Our concern is, as the Federal Gov made a multimillion loan to Tesla do tax payers have exposure? did the Fed do due diligence on Teslas executive decision competence, risk attitude, etc.

The litigation will escalate, the owners are very wealthy.
The WSJ asks, can Tesla survive ? Good question---
Tesla is loosing money with a $109,000 product, it has a promised $57,000 product which will face competition from the cheaper Fed owned Volt.

What are the possible futures for Tesla?

What are the possibilities for litigation? who will pay?

One is bright, the other is very bleak.


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Posted by andrea
a resident of Community Center
on Feb 18, 2010 at 7:07 pm

There's going to be a gigantic lawsuit, and Palo Alto and Tesla will end up paying many millions for the hobby of a few boys who refuse to grow up.


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Posted by Hagrid
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 18, 2010 at 7:15 pm

Anna wrote: "In fact the average income of airplane owners nationwide is in excess of $250,000 according to the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association."

Sorry Anna, seems I took you at your word. My apologies. I admit it -- we are all rich and therefore,per your logic, we need your subsidies. What's that you say? I'm not making sense?


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Posted by Sharon
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 18, 2010 at 8:23 pm


We do not see how Palo Alto or PA airport has any liability in this matter whatsoever.

Palo Altans and EPAs self organized around the the rights of way at stop signs and dead traffic lights with no incidents.

Nobody robbed a bank, looted or anything like it, everyone was very civilized.

PAPD helped out in EPA, outside of their area, all went went well, no worries.
If night had fallen before the power came back on we can all develop nightmare visions, but the power came back in time, well done.

Palo Alto airport is a great asset, with a great record for people from PA and Stanford, it has no blame in this matter.

There will be massive litigation in this matter because there are very deep pockets involved, but PA, the plane and PA airport seem to be clean.

Taking off over the water safe for everyone on the ground and in most cases safe for the pilot if they can control the emergency landing and float.


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Posted by Mister Smith
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 18, 2010 at 8:38 pm

I do not subscribe to the theory that there is a connection between this event and the outrage about Tesla's use of private planes.

Web Link


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Posted by Malcolm J Dryden
a resident of another community
on Feb 18, 2010 at 8:55 pm

Wow....I cannot believe all the comments from people who believe that the airport should be shut down because of an airplane accident. This accident was tragic...no doubt. But so are accidents on Highway 101, CalTrain tracks, buses, and light rail. We don't shut those resources down because of an accident, and neither will we shut down the airport for that reason.

The idea that no one benefits from the airport is absurd. That's like saying that the freeway only benefits truckers and motorists. How absurd. The freeway is what allows you to walk into WalMart and actually have selection of merchandise to choose from. Well guess what? The airport benefits you in much the same indirect way. Seriously. The next time you fly Southwest Airlines (or any airline for that matter), consider that the pilots of those airliners had to learn somewhere. They did. Many of them learned at Palo Alto Airport. Do you ship a package via UPS, FedEX, DHL, or some other delivery company? Guess what? Your package is most likely airlifted right out of Palo Alto and flown to the nearest package sorting facility for (you guessed it) a flight to the main distribution facility in Kentucky or some other location.

Hey guess where medical patients fly in to when they need the excellent care that Stanford provides? If you answered Palo Alto airport, you are beginning to get the idea.

Think the airport costs you money to operate? Think again. The Palo Alto airport operates in the black every year and returns that money to the City. How rare is it that a publicly-funded operation operates with a positive cash flow year in and year out?

You think aircraft owners are rich? I guarantee you that your big black SUV cost more to purchase than an airplane. Most aircraft owners are just plain folks.

And for that poster who has had a hatred for the airport that grows with each passing year I have a question....why did you move next to it? I have a real problem with people who move in next to an airport and then start complaining about the noise (or whatever other complaint he/she has about the airport). Life is too short to fight City Hall....find a house you like that is away from the airport. Just a thought :)






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Posted by ?'s for Daniel
a resident of another community
on Feb 18, 2010 at 9:01 pm

"Anna, wonderful post and please count me in on a "close the airport" initiative petition. I have hated this airport with a passion for many years and my hatred has intensified with every passing year."

Really? What is it you hate so much? Please try to convince me that smashing other people's freedom is the right thing to do just because it's not an activity you participate in (e.g., how is the airport any more of a liability than other activities in the area? Also, please use facts, not fallacious comments like others in your position)


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Posted by Lawyer
a resident of Meadow Park
on Feb 18, 2010 at 9:05 pm

"I have always recommended that the total relief for a complaint of airport noise would be for the airport to purchase the property at an agreed price, then resell it with an airplane noise easement."

How about this? The next time you file a noise complaint, the City files a Defective Property notice against your property.

The airport doesn't have to do a damn thing as far as 'compensating' property owners. Landowners elected to build where they built.


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Posted by Sharon
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 18, 2010 at 9:19 pm



The PA is a major asset for Stanford and PA and has been for many, many decades
We also need a marina and a place for the scouts.

The pane crash was a tragedy for the families but it reveals the Hypocrisy of those who tell us to be energy lean but themselves gorge on energy.
What is Teslas CEO energy footprint? is he going to tell us? or do we just have to guess?

It will all come out out in the litigation


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Posted by seriously. stop.
a resident of another community
on Feb 18, 2010 at 9:37 pm

"... for the hobby of a few boys who refuse to grow up."

Right, that makes a lot of sense-- because boys are literally flying airplanes all over the place. I guess we should also tell firemen, police, etc. to grow up because some boys liked that when they were young too. Seriously, I don't tell you to "grow up" because you like to knit/yoga/scrapbook/[insert hobby i'm not interested in here]. How about we wait to see how this all pans out before speculating and pointing fingers?

"but it reveals the Hypocrisy of those who tell us to be energy lean but themselves gorge on energy."

Did they tell us to be "energy lean?" (if so, please cite). As far as i know, they were running a business-- which, BTW, is an institution that frequently relies on airports/airplanes in order to survive and also provides a great deal of tax revenue for your very own city.


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Posted by Mister Smith
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 18, 2010 at 10:00 pm

"they were running a business".

Yes, I like the way their business is run. Corrupt Nikola Tesla's good name for your suped-up golf cart. Jet over to Washington D.C. in the private jet and hobnob with the wonderful people who are 'serving' out country. Fly back with $500 million in a government (i.e. taxpayer) loan, even though you yourself are absurdly wealthy. Then make sure to jet over to NYC in the private jet for the IPO on Wall Street. It's too bad they don't need to jet over to Google and Yahoo and get millions in free publicity.

Going green can be very fun.


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Posted by seriously. stop
a resident of another community
on Feb 18, 2010 at 10:22 pm

"Yes, I like the way their business is run. Corrupt Nikola Tesla's good name for your suped-up golf cart. Jet over to Washington D.C. in the private jet and hobnob with the wonderful people who are 'serving' out country. Fly back with $500 million in a government (i.e. taxpayer) loan, even though you yourself are absurdly wealthy. Then make sure to jet over to NYC in the private jet for the IPO on Wall Street. It's too bad they don't need to jet over to Google and Yahoo and get millions in free publicity."

It's true... businesses use jets. So you want to ban that right too?


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Posted by Mister Smith
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 18, 2010 at 10:35 pm

If the Tesla guys can legally pull this stuff off and also avoid the wrath of the public, then I say more power to them.

It is somewhat ironic though that Nikola Tesla was all about creating a world of wireless electrical power transmission. Think about it.


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Posted by K
a resident of Mountain View
on Feb 19, 2010 at 12:29 am

I was curious about the various statements made in earlier comments claiming that the airport is unsafe. With a little Google searching, I found that the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has their accident database online (source: www.ntsb.gov/ntsb/query.asp). According to the NTSB, there have been 0 fatal accidents at the Palo Alto airport in the last 10 years and 17 total accidents. (Obviously, this latest accident isn't recorded yet.)

Resident, Rich, and Malcolm all mentioned Caltrain accidents being more frequent occurrences. Unfortunately, Google didn't find an authoritative source for Caltrain accidents. However, CBS5 reported that there were 19 fatal deaths on Caltrain in 2009 (source: cbs5.com/local/caltrain.woman.killed.2.1399039.html).

David and Malcom both mentioned highway fatalities in Palo Alto. Another web search discovered that there were 5 fatal highway accidents in Palo Alto in 2008 and 1 in EPA in 2008 (source: www.city-data.com/accidents/acc-Palo-Alto-California.html and
/www.city-data.com/accidents/acc-East-Palo-Alto-California.html).

Doug mentioned the city's Emergency Operations Plan. It is linked at www.cityofpaloalto.org/info/preparedness.asp. The actual document is at www.cityofpaloalto.org/civica/filebank/blobdload.asp?BlobID=9226. The airport is discussed on page 82:

"The Palo Alto Airport (PAO) is a special district that could be a major resource to the City in the event of a disaster.

While PAO is not large enough to land large fixed-wing aircraft, it is possible to use it for dropping supplies or landing helicopters.
Stanford's Life Flight helicopter refuels/re-supplies at PAO, for example.

PAO is home to the Palo Alto branch of the Civil Air Patrol (CAP). CAP can provide aircraft for reconnaissance to survey damage after an earthquake, for example. CAP missions can be under State or Federal authority (liaison to FEMA)."


This debate had been interesting reading. The data is readily available for fact checking.

Personally, I think the airport is very safe. And I appreciate the fact that Stanford Life Flight is based at Palo Alto.


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Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Feb 19, 2010 at 5:08 am

Technically, to correct one of the many misconceptions above, if the pilot was a flight instructor then he held at least a Commercial Pilot Certificate, and was a professional pilot, not an amateur. And it's weird anyway that people throw around the term "amateur" as a perjorative. If you don't get paid for raising your kids, does that make you an amateur parent?


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Posted by gerald
a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 19, 2010 at 7:19 am

The small airplane/small airport lobby reminds me of the leafblower lobby. There's a template designed to counter any argument against them. Pollution?check. Reducing quality of life? check.
Unbearable noise?check. Health&Safety hazard?check. Both even use the same verbiage in their demagoguery, based on reading comments here. The most amusing are the claims how are lives are so better with them but some of us misguided greenies just don't know it. And I have also reached the conclusion, based on the flyboys and their groupies arguments that unless a small city has an airport, FedEx, UPS and DHL packages will not be delivered, medical treatment and other emergency services will not be available.


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Posted by Airport User
a resident of another community
on Feb 19, 2010 at 8:50 am

After 25 years as a pilot, have come to the conclusion that the "close the airport crowd" is really about removing a freedom. The is some sort of fear about flying coupled with a deep-seated dislike bordering on hatred for people who are actually willing to learn a skill where they and only they are in command. This sort of independence of action is deeply frowned upon and today is almost politically incorrect. Arguments about noise and falling planes are canards.


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Posted by petercarp
a resident of Atherton
on Feb 19, 2010 at 9:09 am

petercarp is a registered user.

As a long time, but now retired, pilot who flew out of the Palo Alto airport I appreciate the views presented by other pilots and airport users. However, we live in a democracy and the airport and pilots are not a legally protected minority. The pilots and the airport users must therefore be able to make a convincing argument to persuade the majority of the citizens that the airport performs an important societal function - and in the wake of Tuesday's crash the burden of proof has risen.

I personally think that the case for the airport is a strong one but I do not represent the majority of the citizens who will ultimately, via their elected officials, make that decision.


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Posted by Anna
a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 19, 2010 at 9:24 am

gerald is right. The self-absorption of the small plane crowd is hard to stomach. They imagine that since they get such ethereal pleasure out of flying that the rest of us must be total dullards not to "get it" the way they do.

This view is reinforced by Airport User who imagines that those of us bothered by the noise of his hobby and worried about the so recently vividly manifest danger of small plane overflight of residential neighborhoods have a psychological disorder of some sort causing us to hate him and his skyward brethren for their superior skill and command of the air.

Airport user further reveals the way his obsession with flying has blinded him to its effects on others when he imagines we who object to subsidizing his hobby while putting up with the noise and side effects are secretly objecting to his "freedom".

Airport User is free to fly as much as he wants. But he's not "free" to do it in a way that's implicitly subsidized by the rest of us, or in a way that torments others with noise or endangers people on the ground.

Before Airport User gets too wrapped up in his fantasies about others' deep-seated hatred of him, he ought to look up the definition of narcissism.


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 19, 2010 at 9:39 am

What I can't get is why so many ordinary Palo Altans are so against the airport.

I don't use the airport, am not a pilot and have no affiliations with anyone who does, but I can see the value that the airport has and also see the untapped potential of this asset.

It is not the airport's fault that the crash happened. The rules that appear to be in place appear to have been broken. The pilot made the judgment call to fly not the airport. The plane did not turn over the Bay but turned left and instead of gaining height crashed into a 90' tower. The fog had nothing to do with the plane going the wrong way and not gaining altitude. This tells me that either the pilot had a heart attack or there was something wrong with the plane. In other words, don't blame the airport.

Palo Alto is in the flight path of SFO and Moffett which means that the very unlikely possibility of a crash over Palo Alto from either of these two airports is the same as Palo Alto.

Chicken Little runs around screaming about the sky falling. Some Palo Altans are running around screaming "close the airport" with as little evidence as Chicken Little.

Life has dangers, but the airport's dangers are not very great and in fact our biggest concern in the Bay Area is earthquakes, yet we still all choose to live here. The airport, Caltrain, 101, were all here before the majority of us. To some, these things are amenities not dangers.

To all emulating to copy Chicken Little I urge you to remember the end of his story (I can't actually remember it but it has something to do with being not taken very seriously and ending up as being a source of amusement to everyone else).


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Posted by anonymous
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 19, 2010 at 9:42 am

It's not about being against airplanes in general. Commercial planes flying well-planned routes are a transportation choice and asset.

But when you are at the general aviation level: Don't small general aviation aircraft burn a lot of fuel? Just that aspect surprises me that in these days of high gas prices hobbyists have the spare cash to fly out of Palo Alto, circling around, practicing.

The Tesla people would be alive if they had chosen to go to San Jose or SFO to catch a flight down to L.A.


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Posted by Mister Smith
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 19, 2010 at 9:48 am

'Resident' - very funny chicken little reference!

I can't think of a more ridiculous reference! You belittle people for saying "The sky is falling" just after a horrific fireball lands smack dab into their homes. Thank you for the comedic post. I really like that. Please post more.


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Posted by Seriously. Stop.
a resident of another community
on Feb 19, 2010 at 10:38 am

"'Resident' - very funny chicken little reference! I can't think of a more ridiculous reference! You belittle people for saying "The sky is falling" just after a horrific fireball lands smack dab into their homes. Thank you for the comedic post. I really like that. Please post more."

Clearly 'Resident' was being saterical. Saying "the sky is falling" because of one accident in many, many years would be absurd. Again, use some facts (and not your gut-feeling hatred toward general aviation) to show us how this is any more dangerous than other activities in the area. Also try facts for your noise level arguments(e.g., compare to the freeways, Caltrain, etc.-- let's see em)

"The Tesla people would be alive if they had chosen to go to San Jose or SFO to catch a flight down to L.A."

I'm speechless. This almost doesn't deserve a response. Perhaps we should stay at home, never walking, never riding a bike, never driving, never riding the train, because somewhere at sometime a person died doing that activity.


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Posted by Mister Smith
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 19, 2010 at 10:48 am

SS -- thank you for that post! It is almost as good as 'Resident'.

My hatred for aviation? What the ...? I love flying. It is very enjoyable to me. I do not have a private plane or license. If I ever decide to take that route, however, I will be happy if others will subsidize my very enjoyable hobby.

If that situation were to arise, I would probably be aware of the concerns of those underwriting my hobby. But who knows, maybe I will adopt the Larry Ellison philosophy of 'let them eat cake'. It seems to work for many who post here.


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Posted by Seriously. Stop.
a resident of another community
on Feb 19, 2010 at 10:55 am

"however, I will be happy if others will subsidize my very enjoyable hobby"

Again, no facts. Sigh.


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Posted by Mister Smith
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 19, 2010 at 11:11 am

"Palo Alto Airport of Santa Clara County"

SS, I prefer not to educate you on what a county airport means, in terms of public monies. That is neither fun nor entertaining for me. I prefer to read your absurd posts and watch you change subjects whenever your posts are shown to be devoid of merit.

Good day to you.


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Posted by Walter_E_Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 19, 2010 at 11:28 am

Walter_E_Wallis is a registered user.

Every Saturday and Sunday the ether is abuzz with people appealing to God for various blessings. I want it stopped!


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Posted by Seriously. Stop.
a resident of another community
on Feb 19, 2010 at 11:32 am

I'm simply challenging the main selling points that the airport doomsayers are pitching to close the airport: (1) it's too dangerous (2) it's too loud, and (3) it's too costly.

The airport exists. If certain people want to close it, then it's their burden to make those arguments convincing (based on facts, not feelings).


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Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Feb 19, 2010 at 12:31 pm

Unfortunately people often vote (and do most everything else) based on feelings, not facts.


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Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 19, 2010 at 2:10 pm

Hmmm, typical grousing. I don't think this is representative of Palo Alto as a whole--more simply a reflection of people who write to newspapers and post in forums. There's a higher percentage of curmudgeons--good and bad.

Couple of things--the airport is close to Stanford Hospital--and its trauma unit. San Carlos is not.

Given how urban an area this is, the airport has been quite safe--because of the bay and the baylands. Thank God no one on the ground was hurt.

The accident is very odd--the pilot had had his license for 34 years.

Tesla, as a company, has nothing to do with the accident. The plane was owned by another company. It wasn't a Tesla product. Tesla's no more liable than it would have been if the three Tesla employees had crashed a Toyota into a neighboring house on their way to work.


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Posted by gerald
a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 19, 2010 at 2:25 pm

If you bother to research and examine the arguments of the pro-airport camp, you'll find out that just about each one of them is false. I especially love the poster who claimed that FedEx, DHL and other package delivery companies use this particular airport-none of them do and never have. I have questioned the wisdom of the existence of this airport many years prior to Wednesday's crash, so the argument that suddenly one crash caused us to oppose the airport is utterly false. And the NIMBY argument is false too-if I had been a San Carlos resident I'd have been against that particular airport as well-I just don't believe that small cities need airports right next to residential area, but since I live in Palo Alto I can't do anything about the San Carlos airport. Another fallacy:the airport proponents have a fear of flying and resent those who like to fly airplanes. I'm not a pilot, but have logged untold number of frequent miles on numerous airlines, having traveled to nearly a 100 countries. I'm not against air travel and am not afraid to fly. I also love to play a number of musical instruments and am an accomplished musician but that doesn't mean that I need to subject my neighbors to loud and constant noise and damn everybody else:at some point I managed to stop being a self absorbed petulant adolescent, unlike many of the flyboys.


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Posted by andrea
a resident of Community Center
on Feb 19, 2010 at 2:47 pm

To resident and others like him:why do you think that issues like intolerable noise pollution caused by small aircraft buzzing over residential area, the potential of a catastrophic crash(the childcare center miraculously didn't suffer horrific casualties, but such miracle are rare)shouldn't be discussed seriously and that any argument favoring the shut down of this airport is sinister and those holding such opinions are weird Luddites who are predisposed to hating aviation? Why should the hobby of a few that diminishes the quality of life for many and puts them at permanent danger become a sacred cow that can't be discussed without viscous attacks and ridicule?


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Posted by Happy Friday
a resident of Palo Verde
on Feb 19, 2010 at 4:46 pm

A very good point that the airport only serves the folly of rich white men, wastes precious fuel, is sitting on land that "we" know better how to use. Let's close it now.

And that golf course next door. I saw a whole bunch of white men using it too! All that irrigation water should be directed to much more critical uses.

And let's take this opportunity to close down Stanford University as well. Do you see what all those rich kids pay in tuition??? You could buy a couple private planes for that. It is our duty to seize these assets from their greedy rich owners and repurpose them as we see fit.


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Posted by petercarp
a resident of Atherton
on Feb 20, 2010 at 6:19 am

petercarp is a registered user.

Andrea asks:"Why should the hobby of a few that diminishes the quality of life for many and puts them at permanent danger become a sacred cow that can't be discussed without viscous attacks and ridicule?"

Andrea is correct - discussing this issue in a factual and informed manner is both appropriate and essential, and personal attacks and ridicule do not contribute to better understanding.

As I stated above:
As a long time, but now retired, pilot who flew out of the Palo Alto airport I appreciate the views presented by other pilots and airport users. However, we live in a democracy and the airport and pilots are not a legally protected minority. The pilots and the airport users must therefore be able to make a convincing argument to persuade the majority of the citizens that the airport performs an important societal function - and in the wake of Tuesday's crash the burden of proof has risen.

I personally think that the case for the airport is a strong one but I do not represent the majority of the citizens who will ultimately, via their elected officials, make that decision.


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Posted by petercarp
a resident of Atherton
on Feb 20, 2010 at 6:26 am

petercarp is a registered user.

The plane crash on 17 February in East Palo Alto took the lives of the three people in the plane, all employees of Tesla, and destroyed a number of homes and vehicles on the ground. The purpose of this Google Group is to facilitate concerned members of the community coming together to provide support for all of those impacted by this tragic event. The group is open to anyone, posts are not moderated and it is up to each individual group member to decide how they can make a difference.

Web Link


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Posted by a pilot
a resident of Atherton
on Feb 20, 2010 at 7:02 am

The attack on the airport and the pilot is uncalled for and has no facts behind them. Some have said the weather was too bad, but many of you have demanded that your commercial flight take off in fog. They have the same procedures and instruments as a this plane that crashed.

Some say this is a hobby that kills people on the ground. First, accidents are few and far between, and second, where do you think pilots come from? United does not hire people off the street and train them. To even be interviewed by an airline you have to have many hours in private airplanes and many qualifications, including instrument ratings. Shutting down another airport reduces the available pool of pilots for airliners, air ambulances, and cargo companies.

Many of you I suspect have forgotten about Haiti and all of the problems they had with their single airport. If a disaster of that size were to hit your area the airport will become a valuable asset to you. It would provide a way to air lift supplies to your area without reliance on larger, more distant airports. Something Haiti lacked.

One last question: Has anyone researched how many aircraft land and take off from the airport? How many accidents have occurred? What is the ratio of accidents to takeoffs and landings? If you look it will be very low...MUCH lower than what happens on our roads and highways. If we apply the logic of one accident should shut down the airport, then all of your highways and surface streets would be shut down and turned into green space.

I invite you to take this opportunity to step away from the television and actually research what aviation is about. Find out why there is an airport here.


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Posted by Anna
a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 20, 2010 at 7:40 am

pilot from Atherton: " Find out why there is an airport here. "

It's very clear why a money bleeding airport remains here in Palo Alto annoying residents with constant overflight and endangering people on the ground.

A rich, well connected and organized special interest lobby strenuously resists any attempt to curtail their hobby. The small plane general aviation lobby (see the AOPA website) exists to maintain the government subsidies at all levels that support their joyriding (and let's be real, despite all the talk of mercy flights and earthquake survivor support, that's what virtually all of the flights out of PAO are.)

It's especially galling that many of those who will oppose with their copious money and their organized argumentation any attempt to curtail Palo Alto's support of the airport hail not from Palo Alto, but from our richer neighbors - like pilot from Atherton.

Budget realities along with last weeks tragic reminder of the potential rain of death the PAO operation represents will eventually force a reevaluation of Palo Alto's support for a financially tenuous airport on land that has uses much more amenable to uses that benefit the entire Palo Alto Community.

When that happens, I hope the rest of us remember that those making tendentious arguments about how we "need" to put up with the playboy hobbyists at the airport in case we have an earthquake or because otherwise nobody from rural California will be able to be treated at Stanford are rolling around in their Atherton mansions happy that somebody else is supporting their hobbies while they only write chcks funding the political opposition to airport closure.


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 20, 2010 at 9:50 am

Since the discussion is still ongoing, I will say some more.

Firstly, I think the anti airport group are ill informed and repetitive in what they say, talking about the rich elite and annoyed by the noise shows that they have done little to educate themselves on the topic.

Secondly, those that fly do not seem to understand what the gripes of the anti airport people are because all they hear are the moans about money and noise.

The airport obviously fills a need because it only takes a walk around Baylands to realise that there are continual take offs and landings, which obviously could not be coped with at San Carlos as that is a busy airport too. Also the tie down space appears to be completely utilized and I doubt if all those planes would fit in San Carlos on top of what they have there.

Personal flying and companies using private planes is a fact of life and will increase in popularity as a means of transport in the coming century. Even in the internet age, several executives from one company find it more convenient in both time and money to get where they need to go for meetings without using commercial flights. In these days of strict security and high charges for baggage, taking along a working model of new products or other presentation material, it is easier to use a private plane for these often fragile and sensitive pieces of baggage to ensure their safety in a way that commercial flights or even FedEx cannot guarantee.

Palo Alto airport is actually in a prime location for what it is. Planes are able to take off and land over the Bay and the land itself is in the flood plane which makes it suitable for very little other uses.

For those who use the airport, there are no support services anywhere close to the airport. We see no restaurants, either fast food or suitable for meetings since Scotts and Mings have or will leave. There is no nearby drugstore for last minute items or even a visitor center where it would be easy for families to watch the planes take off and land with pictures and information of what to look for to make the experience more enjoyable and educational. There is also no public transportation to take for anyone arriving for meetings at Stanford or other business locations. Consequently the airport could be adding to the traffic on roads like Embarcadero and Oregon - have studies ever been done on that?

Lastly, business ventures like taxi services from say Stanford to Berkeley, sightseeing tours of the valley and city, are all the types of businesses that could become very popular in the next decade or so and Palo Alto could potentially house the forerunners of these types of businesses. Rather than making it difficult, Palo Alto should be encouraging innovating uses of the airport as it should for any new business ideas. This is silicon valley where things happen for the first time and then become popular elsewhere, and aviation should not be the exception. Having an airport could be the reason for having the next household name big company based in our town.

Looking at the potential for the airport and thinking of it as a source of revenue and employment makes so much sense to me.


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Posted by anonymous
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 20, 2010 at 10:30 am

re: pilot training (for commercial airlines)- it was hinted here that we should not object to people learning to fly those basic single engine planes at PA Airport and endlessly doing their take-offs, circles, landings because these are our future professional pilots?! I have walked out there for many years near the runway and witnessed that a lot of the "volume" of use of the airport appears to be hobbyist instruction. I would, seriously, like to know how many of these folks are indeed going on to become paid airline pilots. Seems to me they are hobbyists, mostly, and weekend pilots. I know some in past have been Stanford students (hobby flying). I doubt Palo Alto Airport is the hub of training of our future commercial pilots. Er, the Military, anybody??


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Posted by gerald
a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 20, 2010 at 10:32 am

Pilot from Atherton; most commercial airline pilots are military veterans. The notion that without tax payer subsidized small airports, aspiring airline pilots will just not have an opportunity to learn how to fly is as nonsensical as the assertion I read here that PAO is used by FedEx, DHL and other delivery companies, a total fabrication. And I will bet every cent I have that if someone suggested building a small tax payer subsidized airport in Athterton, you would be one of the first to oppose it, knowing what it would do to your property value and quality of life. No demagoguery can change the fact that flying small aircraft out of local airports is a subsidized hobby in which upscale, mostly white men indulge because tax payers are passive, gullible and ignorant enough to make possible.


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Posted by judy
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Feb 20, 2010 at 10:42 am

pilot from Atherton-isn't it nice to have tax payers from another city subsidize your hobby while you live in airport-less pristine and gentile Atherton? Let others, less refined, suffer the noise and endangerment, right?


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Posted by Pilot@KPAO
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Feb 20, 2010 at 5:46 pm

To the judgemental folks bleeting Aviation is for elitists, it is clearly not only for the rich, white, males, or priviliged, but the determined.

The Palo Alto airport is a public resource available to **ANYONE** who chooses to use it. Piloting is a priviledge available to **ANYONE** who earns it in the great USA,(and damn few other countries). I must subsidize schools I never had kids in and NO person in the US claims higher ground over those who choose to fly based on their life choices.

There is always a flight instructor(often underemployed), an airport, and an airplane availble to ALL classes of americans, (thanks in part to brave aviators in WWII), who are determined to evolve beyond the earthbound.

Remember Barrington Irving, Bessie Coleman and others who started meagerly but had access to an airport and were determined...

Web Link
Web Link
Web Link

Judge not, lest ye be Judged.


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Posted by Sharon
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 20, 2010 at 7:38 pm



The PA airport is a great asset to the community, we should also build a marina and small boat harbor in the area.
The greens have dominated PA for too long, there is an new generation of people in town who value and demand a more balanced approach.
As for EPA the remaining Ohlones could lobby for an Indian Casino to boost their tax base, OK by me,


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Posted by Anna
a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 21, 2010 at 3:41 am

"The Palo Alto airport is a public resource available to **ANYONE** who chooses to use it. "

How many East Palo Alto residents (who bear much of the noise and danger burden of the airport) own planes at Palo Alto Airport?

Really, the suggestion by you Atherton guys that your hobby isn't a rich man's diversion shows how completely out of touch that your fascination with your airtoys - and yourselves - has made you.


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Posted by andrea
a resident of Community Center
on Feb 21, 2010 at 7:47 am

A great asset to the community? Valuable land is used to generate obnoxious noise and air pollution for the benefit of a few, mostly wealthy hobbyists, while putting nearby neighborhoods in permanent danger. It also doesn't generate any financial or communal benefits for the community that subsidizes it. The fees pilots play are used to pay instructors salaries, and the tax payers are subsidizing the existence of a facility that unlike schools, public parks or libraries serves very few. The suggestion that this isn't a rich person's hobby is as ridiculous as the one I once heard about how Polo isn't a rich person's sport.


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 21, 2010 at 8:55 am

Anna

One of those who died in the plane was a resident of East Palo Alto.

This shows me that the benefits of having an airport in their vicinity does benefit some in EPA as much as it can benefit those in PA.

There has to be an end to all this sensationalism and people must stop behaving like Chicken Little. A crash occurred which was tragic, but until we know the cause we can't assume anything. Blaming the airport's vicinity to EPA makes as much sense as blaming the speed of Caltrains to the suicides.

By the way, there was a teen suicide in front of a train in Pleasanton yesterday, we are not the only ones.


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Posted by gerald
a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 21, 2010 at 9:45 am

Resident

The victim who lived in EPA was a passenger on the plane, not a pilot who uses the airport regularly.

The justification for the airport's existence was not a an issue created by this tragedy, it has always existed, but sometime it takes a tragedy for people to wake up and pay attention. It's like pedophilia in the Catholic church- it's always there, but we think about it only after some new scandal pops up.


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Posted by petercarp
a resident of Atherton
on Feb 21, 2010 at 10:52 am

petercarp is a registered user.

Resident states:"Blaming the airport's vicinity to EPA makes as much sense as blaming the speed of Caltrains to the suicides."

Actually since most airplanes crashes occur in the landing or take off phases of flight the location of most airplane crashes is in the direct vicinity of the airport from which those plane were either taking off or attempting to land. Therefore, the proximity of the Palo Alto Airport was a direct contributor to the crash occurring in East Palo Alto.

Written by a now retired Palo Alto Airport pilot.


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Posted by Carlos
a resident of College Terrace
on Feb 21, 2010 at 12:31 pm

Resident-yours is a non sequitur. As noted above, most crashes occur in the direct vicinity of the airport and the vicinity of an airport to a residential area has got everything to do with the potential danger to residents. Additionally, people attempting suicide are initiating their action, but no resident would ever choose to be anywhere near an airplane crash. It seems like you are pulling justifications for the existence of this white elephant out of thin air since you can't come up with even one that would make sense.


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 21, 2010 at 2:17 pm

I know the victim who sadly died was a passenger not the pilot, but he still was using the facilities of the airport for his job. I imagine that for a 7.50 take off he had an extra hour in bed than he would have if he had been flying out of SFO or SJC. That sounds like a benefit to me.

The accident did not happen on the flight path to or from the PA airport. Therefore the proximity to the airport although a contributing factor in this case, is not the same as being in the flight path to an airport. Palo Alto is in the flight path of Moffett and SFO and takeoff and landings are the most dangerous part of a flight which to me means we are just as likely to have a 747, a military aircraft or even a helicopter crash in any of our backyards. If the plane that crashed had been on its flight path it would have crashed into the Bay.

I stand by my comments.


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Posted by Carlos
a resident of College Terrace
on Feb 21, 2010 at 3:15 pm

Resident, you are contradicting yourself again. Most crashes happen in extremely direct proximity to an airport, often on the runway while trying to take off or land. Therefore, residential neighborhoods adjacent to airports are at the most risk by far. The odds are infinitesimally lower that an airplane taking off from SFO or Moffet or landing there would crash over PA or EPA. Add to that that larger planes, many of which are commercial airlines flown by outstanding professional pilots tend to crash at a much lower rate than small air crafts often flown by inexperienced pilots. You also never mention the severe noise pollution the neighbors of this white elephant are subjected to. [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


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Posted by Daniel
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 21, 2010 at 3:31 pm

Resident

What do you mean when you claim that Palo Alto isn't in the flight path of planes landing and taking off from PAO. Every day, but largely on weekends early mornings and nights, those mostly weekend warriors buzz over my neighborhood. If anything goes wrong, they could crash smack into my house, a neighbor's house and maybe even yours.


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 21, 2010 at 4:06 pm

sigh

The crash site was not in the direct take off or landing flight path therefore the likelihood of a plane crashing there was similarly remote as an airliner crashing into our backyards. The fact that small planes and jets both fly overhead does not mean they are likely to crash into my backyard. If I lived in the 1/2 mile air corridor either end of a runway, it would be different. This residential neighborhood was, I have read, over a mile away from the airport.

The noise is a different issue altogether. I hear neighbors mowing lawns, sirens from the PAFD, kids playing in schoolyards, helicopters, jets, caltrains horns, 101 traffic as well as a few small planes practically everyday. Not one of them is more of a nuisance than any of the others and living in the suburbs, I expect to hear them all. They really are a part of everyday life and not worth causing a commotion over.


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Posted by petercarp
a resident of Atherton
on Feb 21, 2010 at 4:13 pm

petercarp is a registered user.

I think the concerns expressed by many on this forum have been heard. Here is the notice which the Palo Alto Airport Association has just sent to all of its pilot members. If these guidelines are followed by all the pilots at the Palo Alto Airport then the risks to populated areas will be significantly reduced.

Well done PAAA !!

Peter

******************************

Flight Practice Modification Proposal

In the aftermath of this past week's tragic accident, the airport is under increased scrutiny. Hundreds of emails and phone calls between the Board, the pilot community, media, emergency response and the community have literally been a full time job for some members of the association over the last few days. The aviation community must do all it can to minimize risks to the surrounding areas, and the perception of risk. The accident last week came perilously close to causing bodily harm to individuals on the ground. As it was, the psychological and physical damage was immense, and the political pressure on the airport has never been greater. There are several areas of concern, and you can help in one or more ways:

VFR Operations:

Runway 31:
Please observe the 10 degree noise abatement turn. In addition, in high-performance aircraft, please make your power reduction slowly. There are jangled nerves in East Palo Alto; the change in engine sounds is alarming, despite it being considered good operating practice by us. The perception of a rapid change in engine RPM is unsettling!
Do not ask for, and do not accept, a left downwind departure. Overflying our neighboring community at relatively low altitude and high power is not "flying friendly".
Runway 13:
Do not ask for, and do not accept, a right downwind departure.

IFR Operations:
If the airport is below basic VFR minimums and the wind is calm, ask for a runway 13 departure.
Please reconsider your personal takeoff minimums. If there is a ceiling due to stratus, do you have a takeoff alternate if the field is below approach minimums? Personally, I think 200' & mile, which would allow an approach to SFO/OAK/SJC, should be considered good operating practice. Your minimums may be higher.
Airport Support:

The Palo Alto Airport Association Board of Directors is stretched beyond thin. We need your help and support! Do you have expertise in law or public relations? We need you. Can you help with community or media outreach? We need you. Can you donate time and / or funds to help our displaced neighbors in East Palo Alto? The Association needs cash, too. We've been operating for years with minimal dues; now we may have some real expenses! Please step up and volunteer your time, expertise and money.

Flying Clubs:

Please publicize the requested procedures and incorporate them in your training. Emphasize to the CFI community that we must have their cooperation in order to continue to have a great hometown airport.

It's put-up-or-shut-up time, folks. We are a minority that exists with the tolerance of the community at large. We all understand that a key component of safe flying is risk management. We must do whatever we can to further enhance what really is, in the longer perspective, an excellent safety record.

Thank you,

Bob Lenox, V.P.
Palo Alto Airport Association


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Posted by petercarp
a resident of Atherton
on Feb 21, 2010 at 4:24 pm

petercarp is a registered user.

For those who are unfamiliar with the terminology used in the PAAA announcement posted above, what this basically says is keep all takeoff operations on the Bay side of the airport.

This means that the pilots who follow these guidelines will not be using half of the airspace around the airport in order to minimize the risk of another crash into a populated areas. This is a huge risk reduction step.


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Posted by A pilot
a resident of Atherton
on Feb 22, 2010 at 7:36 am

There is so much bad information and lack of facts is this discussion.

Yes there are hobbyist at the airport. But the airline are NOT over-run by military pilots. A large majority of the airline pilots come from people learning to fly and gaining hours. Shutting down airports one at a time cuts this supply of pilots off. The statements that the military is the sole provider of pilots shows a misunderstanding of the system.

Hobbyist plots are not playboys or rich. Many pilot scrape together the money they have to pay for lessons and rental fees. Just as people with boats - that pollute the water, motorcycles- that create noise pollution, or any other expensive hobby. I think you need to go out to the airport and meet a few of the pilots you hate so much.

In fact, I challenge all of you to get out from behind your TVs, pull yourself from your multimedia, and pry the iphone off your head and come out to the airport. Come out and talk to us. Find out what is actually going on here. Find out how much time we have to devote to learning safe operation of airplanes just to get a license, and what we have to demonstrate just to keep our certifications. Come meet these supposed playboys that use the airport.

I dare all of you to stop spewing inaccurate accusations and actually take the initiative to LEARN about the subject you have such a hatred for. Then come back and have an informed discussion about the value and burden of the airport.




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Posted by andrea
a resident of College Terrace
on Feb 22, 2010 at 8:24 am

Pilot from Atherton:
But you still haven't answered the question if you would be willing to have an airport built near your house, so you don't have to keep your airplane in an airport subsidized by the tax payers of another city? I doubt that your pristine Atherton existence would jive with noisy small aircraft buzzing above your house and polluting your air, but you have no problem with others enduring your hobby.


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Posted by A pilot
a resident of Atherton
on Feb 22, 2010 at 8:35 am

andrea:

First, the airport is subsidized by local and federal funds, so my money does subsidized the airport.

Second, if you do not like living near an airport...move. You knew it was there when you moved into your house.

Third, Yes, I would support an airport near my house.


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Posted by pedestrian
a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 22, 2010 at 8:41 am

"I challenge all of you to get out from behind your TVs, pull yourself from your multimedia, and pry the iphone off your head and come out to the airport. Come out and talk to us."

Pilot, if you were trying to dispel the image of your group as being elitist and arrogant, you failed. Fact is that most of us non-pilots are not couch potatoes but rather people who pursue other interests that do not endanger the public or require subsidies.

Thank you, Peter, for posting the PAAA proposal. Unfortunately, it sounds as though these are guidelines, without any teeth. It might be more comforting if pilots could be cited for buzzing EPA neighborhoods or engaging in other practices that are not very neighborly.

I know several people who use the PA airport. They are not rich (though they are all white males). I also know several people, including a cousin and a flight instructor, who have died in small plane crashes. I personally don't understand the desire to participate in a sport where a small mistake or malfunction can be fatal, but it behooves those of you who do to take whatever steps are necessary to protect the rest of us.


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Posted by petercarp
a resident of Atherton
on Feb 22, 2010 at 8:54 am

petercarp is a registered user.

Hopefully we can all remain focused on the issues at hand and avoid name calling and harsh rhetoric.

Thought of the Day:
The thing I hate about an argument is that it always interrupts a discussion. -- G. K. Chesterton


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Posted by Anna
a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 22, 2010 at 9:23 am

Pilot from Atherton seems to have taken the criticisms of the Airport and its operations unduly personally. Nobody "hates" pilots. But many of us object to subsidizing what is mostly a hobby enjoyed by the more wealthy members of society especially when it is a noisy environmental nuisance and is much more hazardous to non-participating innocents on the ground than are other activities he cites.

We don't need more "facts" as Pilot seems to demand we go out and gather. None of the facts in the above statement is open to serious dispute: It's undeniable that participants in general aviation are more wealthy than average. And the myriad general aviation subsidies are also not subject to serious disputation. Noisy?: Stand out side in almost any area of Palo Alto for a few minutes on weekend days. Dangerous?: See any newspaper in the country on the day of last week's crash.

Let's close the airport. I'm sure Pilot from Atherton can spare enough gas money to drive to San Carlos or Reid-Hillview in San Jose for his weekend flying fix. An


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