Two disclaimers before I submit my two cents:
1. I am an active pilot with over 50 years of military and civilian flying experience, and a 23-year resident of Napa.
2. I know and respect both the heliport permit applicant and the author of Measure D.
The point of this letter is not to fathom the much-quoted, but often-nebulous language of the county’s independent 9111 analysis, nor to render a judgment on its legal merits or possible consequences.
Rather, it is to point out that, in many respects, both the applicant and the author are striving for the same result, i.e., the legal and safe operation of a private aircraft by a citizen exercising his rights while not impinging on others’ daily lives - albeit using different methodologies.
Much alarmist rhetoric has been devoted to the allegedly deadly and nefarious threats posed by privately owned aircraft (not just helicopters). The fact is that the current county, state and federal regulations on this subject have been working perfectly well for decades. Any attempt to skirt these laws has been met with strong enforcement, up to and including the loss of an operating certificate and the aircraft itself - although no injuries, property damage or decrease in property values ever occurred.
The proposed operational site is near the top of Mt. George, far away from any “neighborhood,” at an altitude that’s 40 percent above that used by the vast majority of powered aircraft now transiting the Valley.
Further, the applicant has conducted unprecedented extensive and expensive studies documenting the minimal-to-non-existent impacts on all the environmental aspects of the project. These multi-year studies, and their related considerable expense, should serve as a “gold standard” that will set the threshold high enough to deter the feared wave of swarming helicopters that the author predicts.
Although the ballots are already in (most of) our hands, there is still time to decide how we will vote. So, I would encourage voters to look beyond all the hyperbole and ask themselves simply: “if this perceived threat is indeed real, how will my neighborhood be affected?”