Letter: We Cannot Afford toLose Tobermory Airport

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The following is an excerpt from a letter sent to the Municipality of Northern Bruce Peninsula.

I read with great interest the article about an expert airport manager wanting to manage our airport. I have been an aircraft enthusiast as long as I can remember. People who are anti-airport have not thought things out with facts. They just want it closed, mainly because they don’t like the noise. 

What about that garbage truck? Rock crusher going all day? Traffic noise? 

I have lived three years on highway 6 and the only traffic I hear is motorcycles and trucks using engine braking to turn on Warner Bay Rd.

I demand they close that highway! The noise irritates me.

Many towns have closed their airports because of complaints. It was the biggest mistake they ever made. Nearly the entire economy depended on the airport being open. By the time they realized it, there was heavy unemployment, people moved away and businesses closed. The towns never recovered and it never returned.

Traffic can be much louder than any aircraft, but it is because it is an aircraft that anti-aircraft gunners focus on the noise – no matter how loud it is “The noise bothers me. I can’t sleep!” and “It scares my dogs.” 

What about you chain-sawing ten cords of wood Sunday morning at seven?

I am going to present my arguments for keeping it.

The main reasons we NEED that airport is, in the event of an emergency, such as a fire (the peninsula burned to the ground many years ago) or a natural disaster like a tornado or earthquake. 

We are isolated up here. The highway has been closed for several days in Winter. How do we get out? How do we get supplies in? Necessities of life, medicines, food, emergency equipment and personnel, firefighters, firefighting equipment… the armed forces are our only hope.

We would have no way out or getting supplies in. All we have is the Chi-Cheemaun, several tour boats and some pleasure craft. The Cheech has a large cargo capacity, but is very slow, and they could only carry passengers because there is no way to open the bow and stern doors and load, except here and South Baymouth. It has no deck space for anything but passengers. 

I am greatly in favour of getting the men who have experience in airport management to manage ours. Let’s see what they can do. If they can’t make it a success, we must still maintain it as a safety net and for general aviation pilots.

We should accept their offer and make it better than it is. I doubt the Municipality will get any other offers, so it might sit there and decay.

We also need ILS (Instrument Landing System) so pilots can land in inclement weather. I have seen many a foggy day where you can’t see your hand if it is touching your nose.

As far as businesses, I do not think a flying school will fly. Simply not enough students to keep it airborne. Tourist flights are not worth the effort. Since I have been here, two or three have crashed. Did the helicopter tours fold? I never heard the helicopter, even when the tours started.

Regular aircraft maintenance is nothing but an airy thought, however what would take to the air is a maintenance shop where one mechanic has his “B” license, authorized to perform major structural repairs on aircraft that the average AME is not permitted to sign out. 

There is highly unlikely to be much increase in traffic, only in the summer, and perhaps on weekends when groups of pilots fly together and look for a nice airport to have a cup of coffee. I have seen members of my former EAA chapter in Hamilton visit.

They could have annual airshows. They had one many years ago – I think it was the new lighting dedication. They had 43 planes in all attend.

Anyhow, WE NEED THAT AIRPORT! We must have it. It is a lifeline we cannot afford to lose. We need it in the township’s emergency plan. It may not happen in our lifetimes, but it could happen. We must be prepared if it does.

Contact the town council and tell them “We need our airport.”

Alan Constant,

Tobermory