A pilot's perspective of Iowa City's controversial landing strip - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

A pilot's perspective of Iowa City's controversial landing strip


IOWA CITY (KWWL) - Just over a week ago, pilot Jim Meade ended up where he didn't want to be: in a plane that crashed in a residential neighborhood. Meade suffered some brusing and broken bones, and nobody else was hurt. But residents of the neighborhood at one end of the Iowa City Municipal Airport's single (for now) landing strip worry that it could happen again. Many of them think the runway is too close to their neighborhood, which is elevated above the landing strip. Some feel planes are coming too low on their approach.

But at least one pilot showed us that landing on the runway isn't much different than any other. Ehren Feuerbach has 2,300 hours of flight experience, which means he's no stranger to air travel. He says the runway is perfectly safe. "It's a little different, but I wouldn't say it's anything out of the ordinary," he says.

It's a little different because it's what pilots call a "short field effort," meaning the runway is a little shorter than usual, or that there may be an obstacle at the end of it. It's a technique Feuerbach and other pilots train for.

We went up with Feuerbach, and once in the air, asked him about Jim Meade's crash. "It makes you think," he responded. "We're just happy that Jim's okay."

Moments later, we circled aboe the same area where Meade's plane fell from the sky a week earlier. Feuerbach would not speculate on what may have caused it to happen, and is waiting for the Federal Aviation Adminstration to make the call. "There are, I'm sure, several different possibilities," he told us.

People living the neighborhood have seen two crashes there in the past four months, one of them deadly. Some people wonder if the planes are coming in too low (especially at night), but Feuerbach says an altitude of 400-500 feet is appropriate.

The obvious difference between our landing experience and Jim Meade's is the time of day; his happened in the evening. But Feuerbach says that in many situations, he actually prefers nighttime flights. "Sometimes its easier to find an airport at night than it is during the day. Also, the lighting and the differential between a city and an airport."

For right now, only one of the two runways at the Iowa City Airport is open for landings and takeoffs, but the other is scheduled re-open by October 20th.

Online Reporter - Brady Smith

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