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Saturday, April 21, 2012


A passenger on a flight taking off from JFK last Thursday recorded a birdstrike event that destroyed one engine as it happened. This plane made it back to safety. But a smaller plane might not have been so lucky. Build that 26 acre ‘duck pond’ 900′ from the runway at the proposed CTA and this could be happening right here in Bastrop County over McKinney Roughs, the Hyatt and the Cedar Creek High School. And we might not be as lucky.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

The sound of money

A recent issue of Aviation Week reported that NASA has demonstrated a break-through in the design of aircraft that may allow overland supersonic flights of both passenger and business jets.

“The tests involved scale models of small supersonic airliners designed by Boeing and Lockheed Martin and are aimed at entry into service about 2025. Although the measured shock waves signatures are at the high end of what would be publicly acceptable, they proved the design tools could produce a supersonic business jet capable of unrestricted overland flight,” says Peter Coen, NASA’s Supersonic Fixed Wing project manager.

The article continues with the information that “NASA’s original goal (of noise production) was 65 PNLdB (Perceived Noise Level); 70 PNLdB is widely regarded as the threshold for public acceptance of routine overland supersonic flight,” and that “Boeing and Lockheed are now working under Phase 2 contracts to refine the off-track shock wave signatures of their designs to reduce sonic boom over the full 60-mile wide “carpet.”

Those of us living in south Austin in the 1950’s and ‘60’s remember the continual sonic booms from the military jets at Bergstrom AFB, and the damage it did to our windows, and the community controversy that it created. This was the era of the “Cold War,” and the complaints were continually brushed off by the Air Force justifying the noise by the mantra that “this is the Sound of Freedom.”

This “Sound of Freedom” was taken to court by the citizens of Oklahoma City in 1964 after “Operation Bongo II” subjected citizens to six months of continuous sonic booms, and the Air Force was forced to pay damages.

The citizens of Bastrop County may have a similar situation if the Central Texas Airport is constructed and operated with the potential of trans-sonic business aircraft using this facility and the surrounding air space. Imagine, not only the continual din of hundreds of aircraft at low altitude over Elgin and Cedar Creek, but also the sonic booms as they accelerate to cruising speed.

And remember, the “carpet” of the sonic boom is 60 miles wide.

This isn’t the reassuring “Sound of Freedom.”

It’s the destructive “Sound of Money.”

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Travis County caves

Will the Bastrop County Commissioners be asked to do the same if the proposed Central Texas Airport moves forward? Please see ‘Highway to the sky’.

County agrees to help cover F1 road improvements
By John Maher
April 17, 2012

Travis County commissioners Tuesday agreed to pay for at least part of two key
road expansions near the Circuit of the Americas, the track in southeastern Travis
County scheduled to host its first Formula One Grand Prix in November. The decision
represents a significant shift from some officials’ earlier insistence that organizers
pick up the full tab for the work.

Read the article

Sunday, April 15, 2012

More quackery

In addition to providing a spectacular wildlife attractant, the 26 acre detention pond (which will in effect be a retention pond because it will be maintained at a permanent level) presents another very real threat. Just how is the proposed CTA going to keep that pond filled during a severe drought? Where is the water coming from?

For your amusement, here is a conceptual sketch (from the EID) of the ‘duck pond’ and ‘future recreation facility’ complete with docks and boats.


Does it get any nuttier than this?

Quack, quack

A recurring theme in the Public Comments submitted to the USACE regarding the permit application for the proposed Central Texas Airport is safety. Citizens are rightfully concerned that the Colorado River and a 26 acre ‘duck pond’ to be located 900′ east of the runway would attract large waterfowl that could possibly bring down one of those 737s or other aircraft that are slated use the airport.

Of course it’s dangerous. But thanks to the inclusion of an exemption to the 14 CFR Part 139 rules in the 381 Agreement (at County Engineer, Ronnie Moore’s suggestion) the CTA will not be required to follow safety guidelines outlined in the FAA Advisory Circular No. 150/5200-33 (Hazardous Wildlife Attractants On Or Near Airports). Mr. Moore confirmed that the County could have made adherence to the Advisory Circular mandatory but they either didn’t think of it or chose not to do so in order to secure the deal with the developer.

In the Hazardous Wildlife Attractants section of the revised Environmental information Document (EID) the Applicant, at the Corps request, finally owns up to the twisted logic that allows them to skirt FAA safety guidelines :

1. The proposed action is a privately funded GA airport.

2. The CTA will not accept any Federal grant-in-aid assistance.

3. Hence, CTA is not required to use the guidelines outlined in the FAA Advisory Circular No. 150/5200-33.

Then comes a clever attempt to justify the location and function of the ‘duck pond’ in order to characterize it as a non-issue:

4. Detention ponds hold water for short periods, while retention ponds hold water indefinitely.

5. Retention ponds are more attractive to hazardous wildlife than detention ponds because they provide a more reliable water source.

6. Because it’s a detention pond, it’s not going to be a problem.

What they fail to mention is that the planned detention pond is going to be maintained at a PERMANENT elevation. So in effect it will function as a retention pond. What are the chances that large waterfowl are going to respect the subtleties of this semantic sleight of hand? Not much.

The conclusion offers promises devoid of substance.

7. “The Applicant will implement Best Management Practices and wildlife hazard mitigation techniques relative to the hazardous wildlife attractant associated with the on-site detention pond.”

8. Then in the next sentence, “The Secured Airport Area will be protected by an extensive perimeter fencing and gate system.”

Just how is a fence going to deter to wildlife that’s on the wing? It’s not. It’s an empty gesture that we’re not buying.

If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it probably is a duck. Or in this case, maybe a turkey . . .

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