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Neighbors Bring Up Safety Concerns After Fatal Plane Crash

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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

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