Facts and Myths

Over the years, there has been a lot of information and misinformation flying around about Vance Brand Airport.  Here have been some of our favorites and our reply to them:

Former Ward 2 councilmember Karen Benker mentioned "another airport runway".  There has never been talk of adding a runway, only extending the current runway.

"How about we just move where the skydiving plane circles/climbs?"  The argument to "spread the pain" of the skydiving airplane has been mentioned.  Fact is they are limited to where they can operate based on FAA rules.  For the actual map of where the skydiving airplane can operate, see this page.

"Money could be better used for other city priorities."  This is simply not true.  The money used for the airport would come from: 95% FAA grant that is a rebate of money paid into the aviation trust fund, 2.5% from Colorado Dept of Transportation, and the remaining 2.5% from the airports own funds, which come from leases, fuel sales tax, etc.  This money can not be used for anything else, not for libraries or new police officers.  It is not stimulus money, it would not add to the deficit and require new taxes.  It's taxes and fee's already paid.

"It's just a short 20 minute drive to Rocky Mountain Metro or Fort Collins/Loveland".  Even with no traffic in a straight line, which none of the roads in between are, this is physically impossible.  Throw in the logistics involved with parking and securing an airplane, then getting transportation in each direction and it's probably more than an hour each way.

"Lead in jet fuel."  There is no lead in jet fuel.  The airports largest operator, Mile-Hi Skydiving, mainly uses two turbine powered aircraft that run on jet fuel, a Twin Otter and a Beech KingAir.  

"Let's have a corporate jet flyover day."  First, who would pay for such an expensive exercise which in the end would be a waste of time and money?   Corporate jets fly in and fly out, they don't loiter around the area and "flyover" the city on joyrides.  Why get an example of something that is not realistic?

"Constant loud drone of skydiving airplanes."  Street traffic, motorcycles, and lawnmowers are often louder in decibels.  The problem is the noise involved is coming from above and not blocked by anything in between.  That, and some people feel violated by certain noises, regardless of their actual volume level, and regardless if they live near airports and metropolitan areas.

"Do we really want passenger jets flying into this airport?"  This was one of the more useful mistruths last time the airport was considering a runway expansion.  There never has been talk of having "passenger jets" flying into this airport and with the relatively short runway length, it's not even possible.  The proposed runway length is 6,200' (from the current 4,800').  For reference Fort Collins/Loveland which has a few MD80 flights a week has a runway length of 8,500' and is 25' wider than Longmont's runway.  Rocky Mtn Metro Airport (formerly Jeffco) has a 9,000' runway - and no passenger jet service.  Centennial Airport has a 10,000' runway - and no passenger jet service.  Why would Longmont have passenger jet service again?

"Lengthening the runway would be of no benefit to the vast majority of residents."  Keeping in mind that the city would only invest 2.5% of the total cost, nearly every increase in higher fuel flow rates, hotel stays, and the possibility of new jobs because of relocation of companies would be net gains to the city with little capital costs.  City residents who pay fees related to aviation (including airline tickets, package delivery, etc) would see some of that money come back to them in the form of these grants/rebates, which in turn would drive more use/sales tax receipts for the City of Longmont.  Every resident benefits from that. Results of a Times Call poll asked during the last public input process: “Do you support extending the Vance Brand Runway?” Yes  678  (72.05%) - No  263  (27.95%)

"We should just close the airport or relocate it."  The airport is a city owned entity, but it takes grants yearly from the federal and state government.  Recall the recent situation with the FAA demanding and threatening the funding of the airport over prairie dogs.  If the airport willfully went "out of compliance", either with discriminating against a certain type of use (skydiving) or deciding to shut down, not only would funding end, but past grants totaling into the millions would have to be returned.  The window of opportunity to move the airport east of Longmont vanished a long time ago, see land disputes with Firestone and Weld County.  And what about the people who live where others want it moved?  NIMBYism at it's finest.

"We should further enforce the current rules at the airport."   The City of Longmont owns very little sky above the ground, practically none in reality.  While the airport does have a Noise Abatement Procedure, it is voluntary and basically unenforceable.  It is a request, nothing more.  Most pilots who fly into Longmont and are not based here aren't even aware of it.  There is a "standard traffic pattern" that applies to nearly every airport that every pilot is aware of.  But the further an airport deviates from the "standard" the more likely no pilot will be familiar with it.  There are regulations about heights required above certain areas, but those don't apply in airport areas because airplanes are required to be below those altitudes to takeoff and land.  Bottom line:  Longmont doesn't own the airspace above the city.

"This expansion project has been rejected several times by area residents."  Several?  More like once or twice.  The most recent in 2002 was by one vote on city council, and even this vote was a confusing one where a council member voted against the extension and voted against keeping it the way it was.  The most noise last time and this time against the airport has come from non-Longmont residents who live in unincorporated Boulder County west of the airport.  

"Corporate welfare, tax breaks for corporations, firms should pay for extension, etc"  Firms are paying for the extension, as is the general public in the form of the passenger ticket tax, domestic flight segment tax, ticket tax for rural airports, international arrival and departure tax, tax on flights between continental U.S. and Hawaii/Alaska, Frequent Flyer tax, domestic cargo/mail tax, and tax on general aviation and commercial aviation fuel sales.  We can either get those monies back, or someone else can get our tax dollars.

"Until the skydiving plane noise issue is resolved, the runway should not be extended"  These two issues have nothing to do with each other.  The reality is that you could cut the current runway in half and the Twin Otter that gets all of the complaints could still takeoff and land at Vance Brand Airport.  Mile-Hi doesn't need the extension for its operations.  The flip side of this question is this:  If Mile-Hi's aircraft were gone or made no noise, would this clear the way for unanimous airport neighbor approval for the runway extension?  Of course not, and this argument is being used as a red herring.