Plane crash only a matter of time

The Griffin family said it was only a matter of time before airplanes landing at the Carson City Airport crashed into someone's house.

"We have been going to Airport Authority meetings for over a year and a half trying to get them to move the runway," said Robert Cooper, son-in-law of Bob Griffin, the Carson City man who was struck by a falling plane in his backyard Saturday.

Griffin is in stable condition at Washoe Medical Center suffering from two broken legs and damage to his forehead where a portion of his skull had to be removed. Recovery is expected to take anywhere from 6 months to a year.

Cooper said when he moved to the area three years ago, he knew he was going to be living by an airport. It's not the noise that bothers him, but the unsafe angle of the runway.

"That plane should have been over the open field," said Griffin's wife, Patricia. She said on weekends traffic at the Carson City Airport has gotten heavier in the three years they have lived in the home on Apollo Drive.

"I hold this airport responsible for not enforcing where these pilots are supposed to come in."

Cooper, who is a pilot, said he understands why the planes fly over the homes in his East Carson neighborhood. As he describes it, the runway runs directly in line with the row of homes. He believes if the Airport Authority would just move the runway, pilots would be forced to fly over the open field to the east of the houses.

"This area is airport property," Cooper said, pointing to the field behind the Griffin home. "Typically pilots fly directly over our home because it's more in line with the runway."

The Airport Authority approved a master plan in March that would shift the east end of the runway to the northeast toward Arrowhead Drive. The current runway, which is worn out and not in compliance with Federal Aviation Administration standards, is 5,900 feet long. Plans call for a 6,100-foot runway that could be expanded to 6,700.

Previous meetings to discuss the master plan were heated because neighbors thought the airport planned to condemn homes in its expansion. The expansion does not include condemnation of any homes.

The updated master plan will allow the airport to apply for $10 million in FAA capital improvement funding.

The family knows the plan has been approved, but they are eager to have the construction done.

"As a neighborhood, we have to band together so we can make sure no one else gets hurt like this - not the pilots and not the people on the ground.

My concern is that we just fix it," Patricia Griffin said.

Griffin's daughter Tawny Cooper has a videotape of her father's accident filmed by a TV newsman.

"I am going to take this to the next meeting, so they can see that this needs to be done. We can't wait any longer," she said.


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