Fatal accidents in North Las Vegas spark public outreach

September 11, 2008

Within a one-week period, two fatal accidents occurred near North Las Vegas Airport, sparking concern among the public about aviation safety. AOPA and the Air Safety Foundation reached out to a shocked community in an effort to present the facts about GA and its safety record.

On Aug. 22, a Velocity experimental aircraft crashed into a house near the airport, killing the pilot and two people on the ground. Then, on Aug. 28, a Piper Navajo crashed into a yard, burning two homes. The pilot was killed, but those in the houses survived.

“Fatal general aviation accidents are very low, and it is rare that anyone on the ground is injured or killed when an aircraft crashes,” said Bruce Landsberg, executive director of the AOPA Air Safety Foundation. “A situation like this, in which two aircraft crashed into houses in the same area less than one week apart, is extremely rare. But we can’t discount even rare incidents. That’s why we reached out to pilots in the area with our safety materials.”

The foundation sent an e-mail to nearly 3,000 pilots in the North Las Vegas area, encouraging them to send a strong message to local authorities about their investment in aviation safety by completing online air safety courses.

The association also worked with North Las Vegas Airport Support Network Volunteer Kathleen Snaper to reach out to local pilots and the surrounding community.

“Kathleen and the local pilots did a tremendous job educating the community in the wake of these two tragedies,” said AOPA Airport Support Network Director Jennifer Storm. “A local response carries more weight with local officials and the community.”

AOPA provided Snaper with resources and advice that she used to help local pilots in their effort. She also provided the association with critical information that resulted from multiple public meetings that followed the accidents.

Nearly 100 residents and pilots attended a Clark County Aviation Association meeting last week to discuss the accidents. According to Snaper, one of the biggest complaints that surfaced at those meetings was the noise generated by aircraft flying low during approach to landing.

“Thanks to the keen insight from Kathleen, AOPA can address the specific topics of concern in the area, including noise complaints,” said Storm. “That’s why ASN volunteers are crucial to AOPA’s effort to protect community airports. In emergency situations like these, they are able to quickly provide us with accurate information to help us work at the local level.”

Find out if your airport has an ASN volunteer. If not, sign up today.