Truth: US Airways says its aircraft can safely operate on a 4,694-foot runway. Private pilots want the runway expanded so their smaller jets can carry more fuel to get them to their destinations without having to stop to refuel.
Truth: Clear-cutting 7.9 acres next to Hilton Head Island Airport is not required for safety. Only seven trees do not fall within the safety slope in that area. Airport neighbors agree they should be dealt with and other trees trimmed. Indeed, why would people most affected by any aircraft mishap not want what is necessary and prudent?
Truth: County residents will pay about $2 million for land, additional hangars and more apron and parking areas, all private pilot perks. Should we endure that burden, especially when the airport still owes the county $1.5 million borrowed to build the existing hangars?
The consequences? We can remove almost eight acres of trees for no good reason. We can adversely affect adjoining property. We can force businesses, some homeowners and possibly even a church to move to accommodate unneeded runway expansion. We can burden people with additional taxes to help underwrite the project while cutting education and services budgets.
All to placate a handful of private pilots who need longer runways for more convenience, whose homes and well-being will not be adversely affected, who contribute no personal fees to help with operating costs, and who dismiss very valid concerns of their fellow residents.
Indeed, there are none so blind as those who choose not to see.
Hilton Head Island