Last March, one of my fellow Rotarians, Jackie Bonner, reached out regarding the issue of low-flying airplanes over her home south of the airport. It was not only the close proximity of the airplanes, but the loud noise, some worse than others. After listening to her concerns, I asked her to start recording the time and day of the flights over her home that were most bothersome. With that information, we were able to track many of the flights and aircraft. It was discovered that most were in compliance with the altitude restrictions over her home and were definitely legal.
What I thought was maybe Jackie needed to see the airport from a pilot’s perspective in the air. So, I asked her if she would like to go flying with me in my Cherokee 180. My plan was to give her a San Francisco Bay Tour and then fly the traffic pattern a bit.
That next Saturday, Jackie showed up at my hangar to go flying. Two things she was impressed with right away before we took off:
(1) the radio information at the end of AWOS reminding pilots to “follow the Gnoss Field noise abatement procedures and avoid the homes south of the airport” and
(2) the sign at the runup area of runway 31:
We had a wonderful flight, perfect weather and Jackie was able to get some fantastic shots of the Golden Gate Bridge. She reported back:
The big take away: We showed Jackie we are listening, we care and are trying our best to minimize the noise. We hope we can be this effective with the rest of our neighbors close to the airport.
I learned to fly out of Gnoss Field airport, Novato, and have been involved in the local aviation community for over twenty-five years. In September 2020, I got an email from a volunteer with Guide Dogs for the Blind (GD) who knew about my aviation connections. The organization was looking for pilots to transport adult dogs and puppies to several western states. I knew that Guide Dogs for the Blind had a campus in San Rafael, and I had seen them with their trainers around town, but it had never occurred to me that there could be a connection between aviation and dogs – two of my passions. I put the word out to my flying friends. Nobody I knew was able to respond to the request, but I wanted to learn more about planes and puppies, so I contacted the organization and spoke with Sarah Blevins, Operations and Project manager, and Karen Woon, VP Marketing.
I did not know that Guide Dogs for the Blind was started in 1942 to help veterans who had been blinded in World war ll. It has continued to grow over the years and has puppy raising programs in Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Texas, Utah, and Washington, hence the need for different forms of transportation. According to the “Planes for Puppies” blog entry on the Guide Dogs for the Blind website, the COVID-19 pandemic had a negative impact on the ability of the program to get dogs to their destinations. “Most airlines have discontinued flying dogs in the cargo areas, and those that are continuing have not been reliable in terms of their flight schedules or the aircraft being used.” Even transportation by puppy trucks has been negatively impacted. In light of these current events, they are in the process of assessing their future transportation needs, and considering general aviation solutions.
Guide Dogs for the Blind still has several options when it comes to flying adult dogs and puppies, one being the support of a private jet organization. But there is still a need for pilots and planes in our local area. The Gnoss Field Community Association (GFCA) has identified seventeen types of operations conducted from our local airports that benefit the community as a whole. Adding support for Guide Dogs for the Blind to that list would be supporting a worthy cause. When they have identified their specific needs, GFCA will consider the options for helping them. We will be looking at the infrastructure, as well as pilots and planes, that meet the criteria for transporting puppies, adult dogs who have graduated from training, and those dogs who did not graduate and will be seeking alternate “careers”! Stay tuned.
Barbara is a pilot and CFI based at Gnoss Field, a member of Marin 99s, and active with GFCA improving our outreach to the community.
The FAA division that handles amendments to instrument procedures has accepted a request to provide LP approach minimum criteria to the RNAV (GPS) RWY 13 approach to Gnoss Field. The expectation of this additional minimum will provide a lower ceiling decision height than the LNAV or Circling minima due to the greater accuracy of avionics certified to fly an LP approach.
One requirement will be to add runway markings to the threshold of runway 13 at Gnoss Field. We’ve been told that Marin County is planning on making those improvements so that the LP approach can be flight checked.
The process for scheduling the amended instrument procedure involves a prioritization assessment that has not yet been completed. Even so, the process is likely to take several months due to the backlog of instrument approaches being worked on by the FAA.
Napa County Airport staff is preparing for the upcoming Taxiway “H” rehabilitation project. As a part of the project’s safety and outreach components, the Federal Aviation Administration’s Local Runway Safety Action Team (RSAT) will host a Microsoft Teams meeting to address safety topics and questions from the public. Airport Staff will also engage in the presentation and be available for questions. We encourage anyone from the public to attend, and please forward this message to those you think will benefit from this presentation.