In 1991, when New Tribes asked for a permit to run its operation in McNeal, local
people had real worries about noise and safety; New Tribes is, after
all, for pilot training, so its pilots are learners, and the airport noise is close to the homes in
McNeal. New Tribes made
specific promises to alleviate worries about noise and safety.
New Tribes got its permit, with conditions placed on it to carry
out those promises. The permit, and those conditions, are the
law as to New Tribes. New Tribes should follow them.
In 1993, complaints to the county alleged that New
Tribes planes were making flights right over McNeal School -- not
just an annoyance, but incredibly unsafe. The flights over the school stopped.
Tribes's permit says that flights will
land from, and take off to, the east; New Tribes is violating the
permit by taking off directly west toward McNeal, and flying directly over and around it. For the flights aimed
directly at McNeal,
New Tribes says it is using a runway which was not mentioned in New
Tribes's application. The permit lets New Tribes headquarter up
to 6 airplanes, but New Tribes has also been headquartering a helicopter, which the permit simply does not allow. The
permit specifies what buildings New Tribes may erect; New Tribes
appears to be building more than allowed. The
documents showing these violations are detailed in the section below;
skip the detailed documentation, skip over the next section, and pick
up down the page, at "A Meeting Discussing New Tribes's
New Tribes's Violations Of Its Permit
The cover letter with New Tribes's application for the airport states "we plan on doing all we can to be good neighbors and adjust our flight traffic pattern accordingly. Our planes are small, easily maneuverable single and light twin engine aircraft.... We plan to use the standard left hand traffic pattern when
landing to the south and switching to a non-standard right hand pattern
when landing to the north. This will place the flight of aircraft
over the east half of Section 13, and the open land north and south of
the airport instead of flying over the village of McNeal."
Here's the map that New Tribes provided of the flight
patterns it promised to follow. The map is dated April 1, 1991,
and the legend, slightly cut off at the upper right of the
image, says "Proposed Traffic Patterns For Noise Abatement And To Avoid
Overflight Of Residences." "US 666," at the left of the map, is
of course present-day US 191. The "nearest residence" at
the bottom left of the runways is the Bohmfalk residence. Notice
that there are only three runways, basically arranged in a triangle.
The dashed lines show proposed flight paths -- all avoiding McNeal by staying well east of town.
The Planning Department memorandum about the application includes the following:
(p. 1) "Four (4) small single and
twin engine plans are proposed to be parked at the site. These
planes are estimated to make six (6) flights each per day Monday
through Friday. Landings and take-offs will be directed towards the east."
(p. 5) "3. [The applicant] estimates that these aircraft will each fly about six (6) flights per day Monday through Friday for a total of about 24 flights. No other aircraft will use the field,
except in emergencies or on occasions when Tribal Air maintains other
aircraft owned and used by the corporation. These planes would be
permanently headquartered elsewhere.
"4. As depicted on the site plan, the aircraft flights will be directed away from McNeal townsite, to the north, south and east . . . .
"5. ... Also proposed are two hangers [sic], an aircraft parking shade, a grounds maintenance building, and a multi-purpose center ....
(pp. 14-15) "The
Planning Department is recommending DISAPPROVAL of this request because
it is not in the best economic interest of the County to approve
another airfield . . . . Furthermore, this airfield is considered
incompatible with adjacent noise sensitive residentially [sic] uses and subdivided properties.... If the Board of Supervisors
decides to approve this request the following conditions are
"1. The airfield be
restricted to private use only and limited to four single or twin
engine planes permanently headquartered on the parcel....
"2. Airport operations are
to be conducted during Visual Flight Rule (VFR) Conditions only....
"4. Flight patterns to reflect patterns on approved plans,
weather and traffic permitting...."
The Board Of Supervisors granted the permit on May 20, 1991, after discussion that included the following:
"[The applicant] explained that
the planes are estimated to make six (6) flights each per day Monday
through Friday. Landings and takeoffs will be directed toward the east."
discussion transpired regarding the airfield restrictions, number of
flights, the hours and the summary and recommendations listed in the
[Planning Department] memorandum. A motion was made by Supervisor
English to approve Docket SU-91-06 subject to the modified conditions
in the [Planning Department] memorandum. The motion was unanimously
New Tribes signed a written acknowledgment of the conditions imposed by the Board:
"This approval was made
subject to the approved plans and the following conditions: . . .
"1. The airfield is to be restricted to private use only and limited to six single or twin engine planes permanently headquartered on the parcel.
"2. Airport operations are to be conducted during Visual Flight Rule (VFR) Conditions only.
"3. Flight patterns to reflect patterns on approved plans, weather and traffic permitting. . . ." [This phrase is in blue because it's discussed a few inches down the page.]
A Meeting Discussing New Tribes's Violations
On May 22, 2007, I emailed the local New Tribes a copy of my original column about their operations, titled "Tribal Air:
Will It Return To Being a Good Neighbor?" New Tribes didn't answer, so on
May 30, I emailed national
New Tribes headquarters. The next day, a local New Tribes manager
phoned me, and we agreed to have a meeting. On
June 28, I met for 2 1/2 hours with two representatives of New
We discussed primarily the restrictions on flight patterns, and the
Early in the meeting, when I mentioned the rash of
flights toward and over McNeal, New Tribes painstakingly wrote down my
description of the times of the flights. New Tribes then denied
that there were any such flights; I made clear that I
was accurately describing what I had seen with my own eyes, both as to
flight path, and elevation above the ground. New Tribes claimed
to be ignorant of any such flights -- which would require ground
control not to pay any attention to the flights as they took off or
As to flight patterns, New Tribes argued that "weather and traffic permitting" (just
a few lines above, in
blue) meant that winds as slow as 2 to 3 miles per hour -- in other
words, even the slightest breeze -- would allow planes to fly outside
the approved flight patterns. Of course, under that
interpretation, New Tribes's agreement to the restrictions
is what lawyers call
"illusory," only pretending to mean something.
New Tribes also stated that airplanes took off directly west
on a runway which is not even on the flight patterns map above. I noted that if New Tribes hadn't asked the county
permission to use this runway, nor even told the county that it existed,
then New Tribes didn't have permission to use it. New Tribes appeared
believe that it had permission to do anything the permit didn't
prohibit -- including anything not even discussed during the permit process.
As to the helicopter, New Tribes noted that the permit did not
specifically allow only "fixed wing" aircraft, even though all the
discussion before the permit was about small airplanes including
two types of Cessna.
Finally, New Tribes appeared to feel
that the permit's
conditions were merely suggestions.
At the end of the meeting, I read a rough draft of how I would report
the meeting on this website, and I invited New
Tribes to correct any problems they heard. After I had made a final draft, I emailed it to New
"1. As to the flights toward McNeal: A "Proposed Traffic Patterns" map dated 1991, that New
provided to me on June 28, 2007, does not give any
indication of the
east-west runway from which planes now take off directly
When permission to use the airport was granted in 1991,
made subject to conditions including "Flight patterns to
patterns on approved plans, weather and traffic permitting."
the "Proposed Traffic Patterns" map, New Tribes is
obeying that condition. However, it is possible that a
was submitted with the application, in which case New Tribes
might be in compliance with the permit that was granted.
"2. As to the helicopter: The county permission allows the airport to permanently
house one- and two-engine airplanes; the applicant named two specific
Cessna airplane. New Tribes now houses a helicopter. New
to have the helicopter gone to its country of destination by
pilots are scheduled to leave for the country of destination
I agreed to let New Tribes add their own comments, which I would post on this page; and because New Tribes said they were doing many good things locally, I offered
to give New Tribes space on this page to write up their local works.
New Tribes didn't promise to add comments, or write up their good
works, but New Tribes understood that if they did give me a writeup, I
would post it, so that New Tribes's side would get out.
New Tribes's Disappointing Choice
On July 10, New Tribes declined my offer to post their comments, in an email stating "I
guess the bottom line is that we view some of those things differently.
While I appreciate you giving us the opportunity to critique them or
respond back, I don't think that we would desire to do so at this time."
In short -- nothing of substance: no admission of the
facts, just an implication that facts may disappear if looked at
right; and no response to the facts or law, just an implication of more
On Wednesday, July 11, I answered "I don't know that 'we view some of those things differently'
is going to be a very satisfactory response for anybody as to factual
matters such as the conditions placed on the permit -- conditions such
as using the runways on the map submitted to the county, and allowing
airplanes but not helicopters. I'll still wait till Wednesday to let
you address any of the facts upon which I'm relying."
Later that day, New Tribes answered that their July 10 email was "not
intended for publication but rather an attempt at nicely saying that
while we don't agree with your assertions, neither did I want to get
into a debate regarding the issues nor the fine tuning of those issues.
I didn't want to come across as saying what you should or shouldn't put
in your website and didn't know how to decline the opportunity to give
our views. Sorry about that. Having said that, I do want you to know
that we have been discussing your concerns and considering what we can
do." It seems to me that if New Tribes didn't want to "get into a debate
regarding the issues," then our 2 1/2 hour meeting on June 28 was not what I thought it was.
to "considering what we can do," here's an idea: just start
obeying the permit, and stop
flying toward and over McNeal, and stop flying that helicopter.
New Tribes suddenly began violating its permit; New Tribes can
stop just as suddenly.