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Neighbors Bring Up Safety Concerns After Fatal Plane Crash

PARKER, Colo. (CBS4) – Some residents in Elbert County are renewing efforts to control the air traffic in their neighborhood after a deadly plane crash over the weekend.

Rocky Mountain Airpark operator Pete Vinton was the command pilot of a plane that crashed in the rural airfield on Saturday. Vinton died along with the owner of the plane, a Carbon Cub. That person has not yet been publicly idenfied.

airpark1 Neighbors Bring Up Safety Concerns After Fatal Plane Crash

(credit: CBS)

While neighbors are saddened to hear of the deaths of the two people, they also say the crash brings up concerns they have had for years. Some people are concerned with the tricks they say some pilots are doing and some are afraid the planes might hit their homes.

“They are big boys with toys. And they’re dangerous,” Lee Arnold, a neighbor, told CBS4.

There have been several crashes at the airfield in recent years, although Saturday’s was the first fatal one.

“They are doing high speed low altitude passes. They’re doing hammerheads, acrobatics. Common sense would tell you it’s not safe,” Karl Willstatter told CBS4.

Dave Plucker, a friend of Vinton’s and also a veteran pilot, said opponents of the airfield’s concerns are unfounded.

“Guys that are complaining about it are guys that don’t know anything, they’re not pilots and they are not familiar with aviation,” he said.

airpark 11 Neighbors Bring Up Safety Concerns After Fatal Plane Crash

Pete Vinton in 2006 (credit: CBS)

Plucker said Vinton worked with seasoned pilots to make sure they respected homeowners.

“He was very sensitive about noise abatement and he had policies that we fly in a tight traffic pattern and he tried to appease the neighbors,” Plucker said.

Arnold says she hasn’t experienced such respect. She told CBS4 she has felt that in some instances that pilots have started flying directly at her while she’s on the ground.

When contacted about the controversy, Elbert County Commissioner Kurt Schlegel pointed out that the facility was there long before housing sprung up around it. He also said that Vinton worked to limit the number of visiting and flying into the facility.

“When people started showing up here and building their houses they knew what they were getting into,” Plucker said.

In July 2006 CBS4 interviewed Vinton in a report about the airfield and the safety procedures there. He talked about some pilots’ actions in a non-fatal crash at that time.

“You can see they put it down right here in an open field. That’s what pilots are trained to do. Obviously they don’t want to head for any houses or anything.”

LINK: Rocky Mountain Airpark

  • Dee

    It was awful that 2 people died.. I do have to agree with what one person said..”The park was there first and people who built there knew it.? It is a zoning problem that happens all to often.. Dee

  • Barry Soetoro

    People move near an airpark.. Then it`s N.I. M. B. Y.? Move away!

  • Charles Stockmyer

    Why stop there? Centennial,Front range…DIA. The airport was there first.

  • John West

    “Common sense” would tell you not to move in next to an airport unless you were ready to LIVE next to an airport. For aviation questions, ask an aviator, not the uninitiated homeowners.

  • Erin

    I suppose it would be unrealistic to ask the homeowners to not be encouraged by this crash. I suppose it would be even more to ask if they show 5-minutes of respect to the families. For or Against – it’s almost sickening to see you on TV saying what you say with no thought of the families. Lastly, property values didn’t fall due to the airpark – that was the recession we all live in. Homes were purchsed for more than they were worth – owers are using the airpark as an excuse for their obvious lack of research into the neighborhood they were purchasing in. RIP guys. You will be admired and missed forever.

  • Roy

    Are they complaining that it’s too dangerous for the pilots or for them? If its the pilots then worry about your own business and not them. Pilots are well aware of the risks involved. If you are worried about your safety then by all means move to a safer location. Falling prices are a reality we are all dealing with. It is your problem so please don’t make it someone elses. The airpark was put there because it was out of the way and would not bother anyone unless they wanted to be bothered.

  • Sickened

    All I can say is that the victim’s families had the bad fortune to drive by new signs posted by neighbors ALREADY today. These neighbors are the same people who cheered when a plane crashed a couple of years ago (fortunately nobody was hurt), and called media before 911. Then you get guys like Karl Willstatter who run out to get their face on every news channel before the families are even notified with an “I told you so” and a smug look on his face. The signs are completely innappropriate now and those neighbors should be ashamed of themselves for being so inhumane.

  • Tom

    Let’s see-you move into an area where there is an airport, and build your dream house there. Cool! You don’t like airplane noise. OK, so why did you build your dream house next to an airport that was there long before your dream house? This si something akin to building your dream house in the middle of the forest, and then raising a ruckus because the elk and deer do their buisiness on your porch, and the bears rummage through your OUTDOOR smokehouse. Duh!!!
    The airfield was there first, and if you don’t like that, you really shouldn’t have built next to it. RIP, Pete Vinton!

  • Sickened2

    Those neighbors that are against the airport sound like a spoiled two year old. The way that they act, and agreed “Smug Look” says alot. With no concern of the deceased or their families, they are just worried about themselves. Why did the news let it be slanted, I don’t know.
    As far as safety, I believe that someone had installed a tall flagpole within the flight path of a runway that the court made them takedown. What are the intentions of someone that could endanger another like that. Now with the fatal accident, I belive some of theose disrespectful neighbors will live with a ghost over their shoulder.

    Here is a reply that commissioner Hope Goetz made due to a letter received from an airpark neighbor in September of 2007.

    “I can not continue to debate this when I have been assured that there is nothing we can do. I believe they are in compliance because Richard [Miller, the county’s Planning Director] has said so. None of us have control of our destiny and we have lost more lives at the stop sign on 186 and Delbert than I care to remember. When it is our turn to die, it could be a jet from DIA, a car accident or a heart attack or quick acting disease like my husband died from. I do not fear the airplanes and they were there long before you or I moved out here. God is in charge of my time to die and it will not happen till he is ready to take me. I am concerned that your stress level from stewing over this will cause you health problems. Please relax and take care of yourself.”

    I believe that two occupants of that small plane are in a better place now. God will take good care of them. May prayers be heard for all of their loved ones and friends that are grieving thoughout this tragedy. I am sure that they will be missed!!!!

  • Doc

    Strange, I bet there are no signs asking for freeways to shut down after traffic accidents.

    RIP Skids

  • Keep it simple

    The answer is simple, raise the money, buy the airpark and shut it down…. or shutup. Too many whiners, not enough doers. Rest in peace Pete and David

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