Letters to the Editor

Cutting airport trees belies 'green' objectives

The "Timber!" picture and "green" editorial on the same day in the Packet could not possibly convey more conflicting stories.

Fact: Trees at the Hilton Head Island Airport's s north end did not need to be cut to the ground. No trees there were intruding into published flight paths, and the Federal Aviation Administration continually reaffirms airport approaches are "safe."

Fact: US Airways/Piedmont has committed to continued operations at our airport and takes no position on tree removal at the north end. In a May 20 meeting with senior county and town officials, the Piedmont Airlines president made three important statements: Hilton Head is an important market for Piedmont, and it has no plans to stop service to the island; trees at the south end pose a particular hazard; and Piedmont has no official position regarding future runway length. (Ask the county for meeting notes.)

Fact: No tree ever caused an aircraft accident, just as no abutments ever caused an auto accident. According to accident statistics, since 1950, 50 percent of aircraft fatalities were due to "pilot error"; 50 percent were due to "other human error, weather, mechanical failure, sabotage/other." (www.planecrashinfo.com/cause.htm)

Fact: Extending the runway to 5,400 feet will do nothing to expand commercial airline operations. Regional jets for the airlines need at least 6,000 feet for safe operations.

Beaufort County officials made an ill-informed decision to clear-cut 6-plus acres of trees. We must hold them accountable for violating our island's "green" objectives.

Ron Smetek

Hilton Head Island