Town Asks City to Cancel Airport Special Events

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Kevin Murphy

TOWN OF MIDDLETON–Citing increased chaotic flying conditions and lead emissions, the Town of Middleton Board Supervisors Monday requested that City of Middleton Common Council deny three special events planned this summer at the Middleton Municipal Airport-Morey Field.

In February, the city’s License & Ordinance Committee conditionally approved airport-based Capital Flight’s special event request for the July 23 “Rock the Ramp” day but wanted more information on alcohol service, fireworks and an aerobatic display before granting final approval. 

Capital Flight’s President Matt Hofeldt said Tuesday that he hasn’t submitted that information but plans to when it’s available from other sources.

In the past, the event was held in advance of the Experimental Aircraft Association’s AirVenture and welcomed pilots in route to the week-long Oshkosh airshow.

As many as 100 aircraft from outside of Middleton, and 600 spectators could attend this year’s event, Hofeldt has said.

Also, pending approval is the Aug. 14 Cruise-In autos and aviation event and a July 24-25 booking signing by Field Morey, father of Airport Manager Richard Morey and past president of Morey Airplane Co. 

Richard Morey said he couldn’t understand the town’s opposition to his event which is basically “a book signing with some pilot friends of Dad’s who would be dropping by anyway on their way to EAA in Oshkosh.

“It’s hard to understand the town’s stand against utilizing this airport,” he said.

The town board, a longtime critic of the noisy flights over residential neighbors west of the airport’s main runway, approved a three-page letter detailing their objections to the events.

“Any event causing…100 or more aircraft to fly into an uncontrolled Morey Airport on a single day presents a substantial increase in the risk of an incident or accident over crowded, residential neighborhoods. 

“The Airport Commission Chair (John Hallick) has stated a normal busy day at Morey Airport is chaotic. Adding a significant number of non-Morey Airport-based aircraft would make the current weekend chaos even more dangerous,” according to the letter authored by Town Chair Cynthia Richson and Michael Lawton, an attorney for the town.

Also, the “constant noise and multiple neighborhood overflights will render peaceful outdoor activities for many residents…impossible,” the letter stated.

“The total destruction of normal outdoor activities on two or three prime summer weekends is unacceptable,” the letter continued.

Richson checked with the state Bureau of Aeronautics about the stunt plane and fireworks display and was informed that it’s the airport’s responsibility to ensure that activities are done safely.

“Any legitimate aerobatics performer would know someone needs to file a waiver with the FSDO (the Federal Aviation Administration’s Field Standards District Office), but we are not part of that process,” wrote Hal Davis, the BOA’s airport compliance manager.

Morey said Tuesday that he didn't know if a waiver had been filed with the FSDO but assure that there would be no stunt plane demonstration without FAA approval.

More consequential than airplane noise is the lead emission in exhaust from the planes taking off and approaching the airport, according to the letter.

Children living within 1,000 meters of an airport where leaded fuel is used are “very likely to develop an increased blood lead level,” according to a 2014 study of childhood blood lead levels the letter cited.

The airport is Dane County’s second largest source of lead emission and “adding 

50 to 100 or more aircraft on multiple summer weekends will significantly multiply that lead exposure and with it the risk of lead poisoning. There is no safe lead level in children,” the letter stated.

The letter addressed to each individual alderman’s email address and some state officials, asked the city not to ignore the request.

To date, the city has largely ignored a town request to install a “Low Flying Airplanes” sign along Airport Road so, the board voted to have one installed near the town boundary on the eastbound side of the road.

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