Lantern trash on airstrip is dangerous
To the Editor:
I would like to remind the community that the Girdwood Airstrip is not a public park.
On the morning of Aug. 20, employees of Alpine Air Alaska arrived to work and found the runway, taxiway and numerous hangars littered with paper lanterns. The party responsible and any others considering such actions need to understand this behavior is unacceptable for three important reasons.
First, the airstrip is not a public park. It is owned and maintained by the Alaska Department of Transportation. There are signs on all gates and fences stating “Restricted Area Authorized Vehicles Only” This restriction includes those who lease hangar property from the state, businesses operating at the airstrip, their customers, and property owners beyond the airstrip. Girdwood airstrip is an active, unmonitored runway. That means at any time aircraft could be taxiing or landing. If you are not monitoring the local radio channel, you may not know aircraft are approaching for normal or emergency use.
Second, the lantern trash left on the runway is extremely dangerous to operating aircraft. You have put the lives of pilots, their families traveling with them and possibly paying customers at risk. The lanterns contained a wire frame. This wire, combined with the paper debris and ignition device, could be entangled in propellers, rotors or landing gear, causing injury and financial damage.
Third, I would like to ask this question. What about leaving your trash in a beautiful landscape such as Glacier Valley means you love this place or whomever you may have been honoring? Littering is unlawful, disgraceful, sloppy, and disrespectful. I had to dedicate an hour of my employer’s time to pick up 34 lanterns from the runway, taxiway, culvert, and creek.
Whatever the reason you may choose to celebrate, please think of the landscape, wildlife, and others by picking up your trash. Let’s keep flying a fun and safe activity for those with aircraft and those who like to watch aircraft.