Darien Residents Raise Issues with Brookeridge Airpark Policies
Brookeridge Creek residents said they're tired of low-flying planes passing over their subdivision. Also inside: A chart detailing the accidents that have happened at Brookeridge Airpark.
Brookeridge Creek residents brought up a separate issue at Monday’s meeting about no trespassing signs installed on 86th Street: low-flying planes going in and out of Brookeridge Airpark.
Some of the issues with the planes are simply annoyances—such as loud engine noises in the middle of the night.
But others are more serious, such as a 2010 incident during which the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) said a plane lopped the tops off several trees on a Brookeridge Creek resident’s property.
“A lot of us are upset with the situation with the airplanes,” resident Diane Casali said. “It’s ongoing, but we haven’t done anything about it. Now is the time to do something about it.”
Brookeridge Creek surrounds the residential airpark, which is in unincorporated Downers Grove and predates the Darien subdivision.
Casali said the safety issues extend beyond the Klein family’s concern about taxiing planes striking pedestrians. The Kleins requested that the DuPage County Sheriff’s Office erect no trespassing signs on their property after a boy rode his bike underneath Joel Klein’s wing while he was preparing to taxi his plane to the runway.
“It could be any of us,” Casali said. “It could be any of our children because those planes, because of a lack of oversight, are landing lower and lower. If it’s too dangerous for us, then it should be (considered) too dangerous for everyone involved.”
Bob Siegfried, president of the Brookeridge Aero Association, said he disagreed that there was a lack of oversight.
The airpark offers voluntary guidelines, which include advising pilots to maintain a certain slope during takeoff, and follows Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulations when it comes to signage, he said. The airpark also suggests pilots avoid taking off from 11 p.m.-6 a.m.
If planes are flying in a location or at a height that they shouldn’t be, Siegfried said, they’re not following the airpark’s recommendations. The airpark, however, doesn’t have control over anything except its own property, he said.
“We take it upon ourselves if we see an activity that we think is not what it should be, we will counsel the person,” he said.
There isn’t a formal penalty if someone violates the airpark’s guidelines, Siegfried said. Anyone may file a complaint over a serious issue with the FAA, while the NTSB documents accidents.
There are six Brookeridge Airpark accidents on record with the NTSB, the earliest of which happened in 1982. The most recent was the Sept. 2010 incident during which the plane struck nearby trees. The NTSB doesn't document minor events that don't fall within its definition of "accident" or "incident."
Casali suggested working with the airpark to more closely regulate the planes’ flight patterns. Siegfried said there was little that Brookeridge could do beyond the signage and the voluntary guidance.
Nonetheless, he said Brookeridge does what it can to keep pilots in line.
“We are interested in safety,” Siegfried said. “Your safety, everybody’s safety.”
The following table outlines the Brookeridge Airpark accidents on record with the NTSB.
|Date||Origin of flight||Injuries||Drugs/Alcohol?||Description|
|Sept. 28, 2010||Danville, IL||None||None||The pilot said he "touched down a little bit fast" during landing and ran off the runway into a ditch.|
|Nov. 15, 2008||Delavan, WI||Pilot - minor; passenger - none||Alcohol, cocaine, benzodiazepine, opiates and cannabinoids||A plane approaching Brookeridge struck trees in front of and behind a house—but not the house itself—and flipped over before crashing on the runway. After testing positive for several drugs, the pilot was charged with operating an aircraft under the influence.|
|Sept. 7, 2001||Brookeridge Airpark||Pilot and two passengers - serious; one passenger - none||None||The plane ran into a pine tree and power lines during take off before crashing into the street. The FAA determined the pilot didn't properly prepare for the flight or follow the correct procedures during takeoff. Too much weight in the plane, along with variable winds, also contributed to the accident.|
|June 13, 1995||Brookeridge Airpark||Pilot and passenger - none||None||The pilot said he could not slow down quickly enough once he touched down on the runway. The plane went off the end into an embankment. A witness said that the pilot also landed too far down on the runway.|
|May 29, 1995||Brookeridge Airpark||Pilot and passenger - serious||None||The plane's engine failed during takeoff. When the pilot forced a landing, the plane slid off the the runway and collided with some trees before catching on fire.|
|July 9, 1982||Brookeridge Airpark||None||None||The plane crashed into a tree on a golf course when the engine lost power during takeoff.|