Letters to the Editor January 20, 2002

Dear Editor:

A story published in the Oct. 29, 2001 issue of the Alaska Journal of Commerce seemed uncharacteristically unbalanced. The story, "Halford calls airport unsafe," continually makes reference to the airport’s safety procedures and how the use of ultralights at Birchwood Airport mixed with general aviation aircraft may be problematic, according to Sen. Halford.

Where in the story is a quote from the ultralight community?

I operate a business that services ultralights and offers ultralight flight training that stresses safety and pilot awareness during flight training and ground school classes.

Let me clarify a mistruth.

The story offers a statement from Sen. Halford that states, "The fact that ultralight pilots have no requirements for certification or equipment, other than what they impose on themselves. ..." is incorrect. Ultralight pilots operate under Federal Aviation Regulations Part 103, which require all operators to give right of way to all other aircraft including sailplanes and hot air balloons. Another misconception is that ultralights are "essentially motorized hang gliders" is not true either.

Sen. Halford’s statements cast an unnecessary shadow on the safety record at Birchwood Airport. Perhaps instead Journal readers would like to know that there have been no incidents or accidents between general aviation and ultralight aircraft that have resulted in injuries at Birchwood Airport, and that many of the ultralight pilots also have FAA pilot’s licenses and operate aviation businesses that you regularly report on.

Mike Jacober
President, Arctic Sparrow Aircraft Inc.

01/21/2002 - 8:00pm