February 13, 2002
David Hales, City Manager
City of Bend
710 NW Wall Street
Bend, Oregon 97701
The Palms to Pines Air Race has been an anticipated feature event at the Bend Municipal Airport for more than 30 years. Recently, however, in some years objections to the air race have been lodged by a few of the airport neighbors, causing the event to be cancelled or the finish of the race diverted to another airport. The objection that potentially had substance was raised by a person that raises alpacas about one and one half mile south of the runway.
Last year, with FAA and City observers present at the site of the alpaca farm, the race was conducted without incident. You may know that the owner of this farm unsuccessfully sued the City in 1998, claiming low flying aircraft had stressed an animal, causing a late term miscarriage.
I discussed the situation at the Bend Municipal Airport with a veterinarian at the Ohio State University Health Sciences Center, College of Veterinary Medicine. I was told that alpacas are a bit more high strung than their close relative, the llama, but they are intelligent and adapt readily to noise. He noted that the University research herd of about 100 alpacas is pastured adjacent to an interstate highway.
I have corresponded with a pilot in Michigan who reports flying to an airport where llamas, while grazing off the end of the runway, showed no signs of being alarmed by landing aircraft. At a different Michigan airport, Grosse Ile Municipal, the Airport Layout Plan was amended to allow a barn for alpacas to be constructed on airport property. This structure is for a herd of about 50 alpacas that will be pastured on airport property, with the fence line set back 500 feet from the runway.
The owner of the alpaca business selected the site because the animals are sometimes shipped in aircraft, and he also wanted the proximity to the airport as a convenience for potential buyers to fly in and inspect the herd. These plans were developed after consulting with the research veterinarians at Ohio State University.
Based on the empirical evidence of these observations, it seems unlikely that concerns about the deleterious effect of aircraft noise on alpacas being raised near the Bend Municipal Airport could be substantiated.
Last year about 30 airplanes, each with two pilots, participated in the Palms to Pines Air Race, down substantially from some prior years. The manner in which the race organizers are made to feel welcome when scheduling their return to Bend each year, and the impression participants have about the way they are greeted at the Bend Municipal Airport, shape the memories they take to their various home airports. These memories, and the opportunities they had to enjoy the conclusion of this very exciting event, will affect their decisions about future trips to Bend. The stories they tell will do much to influence the decisions other pilots make about flying to Bend as a recreation destination, or as a place to do business.
It would be an appropriate gesture for Bend to put out the welcome mat for this distinguished flying event sponsored by the Ninety Nines, Inc., an International Organization of Women Pilots. Going to the airport to watch the arrival of the racers, scheduled this year for August 17, would be a significant recreational attraction to put on the City s calendar of events for the community and visitors to our area.
Dale R. Evans, Member
Ad Hoc Airport Technical Advisory Committee
Mike Elmore, Public Works Director
Oren Teater, Economic Development Committee
Jackie French, Bend Visitor and Convention Bureau
Mike Ferguson, AOPA NW Representative
Claire Walters, Ninety Nines, Inc.
OPA, Central Oregon Chapter