Monday, September 22, 2008

How will aircraft avoid the new gondola cable?

I’m concerned with the sightseeing aircraft flying daily around Baldy that eventually one of them could hook this cable, causing a horrible tragedy and wondered what steps are / can be taken to alleviate this uneasiness. After all, aircraft have unstrung gondola cables in a handful of unfortunate incidents in other cities.

Working for a brief period in the airline industry, I have a slight understanding of how NOTAM’s, updated maps and restricted flying areas work, but I wondered if somebody more vastly experienced with such flight issues might explain this in fuller depth. For instance, what will the height of the gondola be when it crosses over Highway 75 and how does this compare to normal altitude ranges of various aircraft flying over Ketchum?

Some pilots do not follow every rule to the tee and occasionally pilots become bewildered, due to inclement weather, fatigue or mechanical difficulty. Locals may remember the crash above Owl Creek about a dozen years ago, when the octogenarian pilot apparently mistook Ketchum for Bellevue and kept flying north looking for Hailey, until he crashed. Also, a couple of summers ago a pilot landed his small Cessna on Hailey’s airport runway, even when there was a large X marked indicating that it was closed due to construction. Locals must also remember that over the years we have had dozens of crashes in the hills around here. So what is to prevent a similar wayward plane from eventually snagging the gondola cable?

Would it help to dye the cable florescent orange for airborne sightseers and paragliders who might momentarily forget exactly where it is strung?

Again, I appreciate any feedback on this that aviation experts in the community can give.

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