Recreational Aviation Foundation to lead noise study

October 11, 2013

Backcountry airstrip

It’s an accusation among public land managers that general aviation doesn’t have a good response to: the perception that aircraft noise has a negative impact on wildlife.

If policymakers or the public say that aircraft flying overhead causes wildlife undue stress, interferes with mating or migratory patterns, or jeopardizes the health of animals, groups like the Recreational Aviation Foundation that try to preserve access to remote airstrips on public lands have no data to prove the claim wrong.

Opposing those views is “like saying you’re against mom, dad, and apple pie,” Recreational Aviation Foundation President John McKenna said Oct. 11 at AOPA Aviation Summit in Fort Worth, Texas—even if the people making the claims have little to no data proving their point.

The group plans to conduct a study in the summer of 2014 to determine whether aircraft noise raises stress levels among wildlife. The study, funded in part by a grant from the AOPA Foundation’s Giving Back program, will examine animals’ hormone levels collected from blood or feces samples to determine if they are stressed. The samples will be collected near backcountry airstrips that are frequented in the summer and compared to those of animals in areas without aircraft noise.

The Recreational Aviation Foundation plans to have the study peer reviewed and will release the results to the aviation community.