Falcon Field Community Check-In Meeting

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The meeting is held by the City and is usually attended by citizens, pilots, AOPA members, City employees, and flight school employees. Topics such as noise, pollution, and safety were once covered, but it's become more of an attempt to gather support for aviation, and to trick people into believing that they are actually doing something, when in fact they are not. This is backed by the fact that after 6 years, no effective solution has been reached.

As such, it's genearally a waste of time to attend. However, at around 45-60 minutes into the meeting, the mic is usually opened for comments. If you can time your arrival for around this time, it's a great opportunity to stand up and be heard. Be prepared to hear illogical opposition from AOPA and other supporers of aviation (at which point you're just wasting time again, so feel free to head on out).

Remember, regardless of who shows up at the meeting, the number of people involved in aviation are exponentially outnumbered by the residents who are affected by safety issues and air/noise pollution, resulting from uncontrolled and poorly-managed aviation practices.


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Falcon Field Community / Flight School Check-In Meeting Summary

August 4th, 2014: August's meeting could be considered a 'lighter' version of June's meeting. There were even fewer people, and the City/CAE didn't really have anything new to discuss, that hadn't been covered in previous meetings.

CAE received the noise muffler from Oliver Carl in Germany, however it was for the wrong aircraft. They sent it back and at the time of the meeting, were waiting for the correct muffler for their Piper Archer aircraft. There was no mention of mufflers for their Diamond DA40s, which we see more of on a daily basis. (click here to see photos of CAE's aircraft)

CAE once agan announced that they would be changing their northeast takeoff pattern so that it follows 202, however as of October 2014, they are still flying north over Las Sendas and Red Mountain.

As 2009's history repeats itself, it is obvious that neither CAE, the City of Mesa, nor the FAA are going to provide any effective solutions. They will instead continue putting on this show and deceiving us into thinking that they are working to resolve these issues, when in fact they are just continuting to serve their own interests behind our backs.

June 10th, 2014: June's meeting was was hosted by Corinne; Natalie didn't say much. There were only about 25 people in attendance and around 20 of them were pilots. A couple of people mentioned an 'improvement' in the noise situation, this wass likely from CAE being between classes to some extent, and the recent strong weather also effectively reduced the amount of traffic and noise coming from the airport.

CAE finally purchased a muffler from Oliver Carl, however they had not yet received it at the time of the meeting.

A person from Maricopa county's environmental department talked about air/lead pollution. The claim was that Deer Valley did not exceed the EPA's limit, so they do not believe that Falcon Field would be any worse.

CAE will continue doing their touch and gos between 8a and 5p. They are also announced a change to their northeast takeoff pattern so that it follows 202 instead of flying over neighborhoods in the area.

When asked about landing fees, Corinne said that it's something that they are considering. She seemed to hint that they would be a more reliable source of funding than the FAA grants. They said that FAA grants can only be used for improvements, while landing fees, hangar and tie-down fees, fuel tax, etc. can be used for day to day expenses. They claimed that the airport has been self sufficient since around 2005...yet it still depends on FAA grants, and it certainly doesn't give any money back to the community, despite false claims by supporters of aviation that the airport some sort of 'economic engine'.

April 24th, 2014: April's meeting was held in a somewhat hot and dusty hangar, but they served refreshments this time. This meeting was hosted by Corinne Nystrom, not Otto Shill as in previous meetings. Shill was present in the audience, but only stood up for a few seconds (the other shills got up near the end of the meeting).

Aircraft noise mufflers were discussed. Brad Hagen from the city and Bruce Van Allen from CAE mentioned that one of the models had caused performance problems at Embry-Riddle, but that there was another that showed promise that needs some sort of FAA certification, and they'd look into it later on. No specific timeframes were given, and at the time of the meeting, they had not yet bought or tested one on any of their aircraft.

The leaded fuel issue was also discussed. Corinne Nystrom mentioned that the EPA installed air quality monitors at dozens of other general aviation airports, but chose not to install them at Falcon Field. The City often brags that Falcon is the country's 3rd busiest general aviation airport, so it doesn't make sense that Falcon Field was skipped while less-busy airports were selected. Monitors at other airports have revealed alarming findings on the amount of pollution generated by aircraft that use leaded fuel. It is likely that these monitors would reveal conditions at Falcon Field that would lead to some action being taken by the EPA, such as requiring unleaded fuel and/or reducing the number of operations. It wouldn't be surprising if the City, CAE, and/or other businesses at Falcon Field paid off or otherwise persuaded the EPA not to install the monitors.

In all previous meetings, many neighbors stepped up and voiced concerns about the increased activity at the airport. This time, the place was packed with AOPA members and other supporters of aviation posing as Mesa citizens. These people claimed to be residents of Mesa, but were ignorant to the noise, pollution, and safety issues we face daily.

They stood up one by one at the end of the meeting and proclaimed such things as how fortunate we are to have the airport, how wonderful CAE is, and how they've completely solved the problem by cutting back a small percentage of their still unreasonable number of operations.

One supporter of aviation got up and placed more importance on the cost of an airplane engine, than on the health of thousands of nearby residents:
"A rebuilt engine, that might go 2,000 hours, is in the neighborhood of 15-18,000 dollars. If the amount of lead makes it that much more reliable, then that's great."

They gave themselves away further, with many of the usual clichés that aviation supporters rely on, such as "you don't like airport noise, why did you move next to an airport". Of course they always fail to mention that traffic at the airport was acceptable back when the houses were built, and how it only became a problem after that traffic increased to an unreasonable level.

CAE may have slightly reduced some of their activity between 5 pm and 8 am as part of their 90 day trial to reduce touch and go operations, but the problem is far from solved. There are still far too many operations taking place at an airport located so close to residential areas.

Another interesting fact presented by Corinne Nystrom was that money generated by the airport goes back into the airport fund, which can only be used for airport-related expenses, and can not be spent in other areas of the city. The airport itself does not lower taxes or pay for things in other important areas of the city, like libraries, roads, or the police force.

March 2014: The previous 4 meetings took place on the second Tuesday of each month, but March's meeting was never announced. We were left with these questions:
  • Why did the City / AOPA start holding these meetings? They didn't take action to prevent a large flight school from moving in to Falcon Field and expanding, and they failed to properly address countless complaints in the past, so what was behind their sudden motivation? Was something happening behind the scenes that was a threat to certain people, positions, or financial incentives?
  • Why did the meetings abruptly stop without notice or explanation?
  • Shortly after February's meeting, the City released a "final" statement on Mesa and CAE's proposed solutions to the problems they bring to Falcon Field. This statement seems like an attempt to brush us off, as if to say that CAE has done their part and negotiations are now complete, when in fact little or no improvement has been observed since the announcement. The proposed solutions which have not yet been implemented, are not expected to improve things much further. Complete story here.

February 11th, 2014: Like some of the earlier meetings, February's lasted over 2 hours and things got a bit heated part way through.

These meetings have been taking place for 3 months now, yet there has been no apparent improvement in the level of noise and traffic, to the point where it looks like CAE has no intention of voluntarily doing anything to help the situation.

Bruce Van Allen, CAE's Global Business Leader and spokesperson for the evening, finally brought a few things to the table such as offering to make better use of flight simulators, which he said could reduce the amount of time (per group of students?) spent in the air by up to 20%. However, CAE has only a few simulators vs. over 75 aircraft. According to Mr. Van Allen, the simulators cost $1.5 million each, while an aircraft costs about $300,000. He also announced a 90 day trial program during which they would try to perform all of their touch-and-gos between the hours of 8 am and 5 pm.

The problem with any of CAE's offerings is that they are voluntary, and can be withdrawn at any time without penalty. Mr. Van Allen even said something to the effect of, "I wish we could do it 24/7, but unfortunately we can't do it all the time". Further, limiting all touch-and-gos to the hours between 8 am and 5 pm means that while will there will be fewer touch-and-gos outside of these hours, they can simply be rescheduled and 8 am to 5 pm will be more saturated than usual. Also, this doesn't mean that there won't be any flights between 5 pm and 8 am, it just means that pilots will come to a full stop and taxi back before taking off again, which of course gives another pilot or 3 the opportunity to take off in the mean time.

It is still apparent that the only way to reduce the number of noise and safety concerns is to reduce the amount of flight school activity, and the only way to accomplish this will be mandatory compliance. Voluntary measures established back in 2009 were ultimately not effective - if they were, we wouldn't be having these issues now in 2014. This isn't a new problem, it's simply the recurrence of a problem that was not addressed properly the first time around.

January 14th, 2014: Previous meetings (held in November & December), took place in one of CAE's classrooms, and the discussion frequently became heated. A number of attendees left early, apparently out of frustration.

January's meeting was a bit different. It was held at the Commemorative Air Force Museum, surrounded by old warplanes. There were more attendees this time (about 55). People from the City, AOPA, and even CAE seemed more willing to listen to the concerns of the residents, although there were no guarantees that any action would be taken.

One point brought up by many attendees, is that there need to be fewer flights. Someone suggested fewer flights at specific times, but this could mean that they will just be rescheduled (without a net reduction in the number of flights), which ultimately doesn't resolve the issue.
Visit the Voter Initiative page for more more information on a solution that finally shows some promise.

City Council

Mayor, Council & Manager's
Contact System:
E-mail Mayor &
all Council members:

City of Mesa Contacts


Alex Finter

City Manager:

Chris Brady

Ass't to City Mgr:

Natalie Lewis

District 1 Councilmember:

Dave Richins

District 2 Councilmember:

Terry Benelli

District 3 Councilmember:

Dennis Kavanaugh

District 4 Councilmember:

Christopher Glover

District 5 Councilmember:

David Luna

District 6 Councilmember:

Scott Sommers

FF Airport Director:

Corinne Nystrom