Thursday’s plane crash at the Okotoks airstrip is resonating with residents in the community of Drake Landing.
The neighbourhood sits just south of the airstrip and people living in the area say they’ve been feeling uneasy and are voicing their concerns.
“Having to deal with this unnerving safety aspect on a daily basis, it’s getting a little rattling,” Nicole Kiefuik, a concerned resident said.
The airstrip was built in the early 1970s and the surrounding neighbourhoods were developed years later.
The area is also referred to as the air ranch, with residents in the community able to use the airstrip with their own private aircraft.
Residents in Drake Landing said they don’t have any issue with the airport being there, and knew that when they built their homes in the area.
But the Calgary-Okotoks Flight School is a newer addition, as it only opened at the airstrip in recent years, and some Drake Landing residents say it brought with it a concerning increase in air traffic and noise.
They also say the planes come in too low when landing.
“It’s constant take-off and landing right above our homes,” Kiefuik said. “So as you can imagine, there is a considerable safety aspect to all of this and yesterday’s crash just elevated that concern even more.”
The Transportation Safety Board continues to investigate the crash on Thursday.
According to officials, the plane had an issue taking off and the pilot instructor and student inside were forced to land directly ahead in a field. Neither the instructor or the student were injured.
The TSB said it could not give details on the exact issue the pair encountered, but RCMP said on Thursday the plane’s landing equipment clipped a fence.
Residents in the community have written letters to the town’s mayor and council in an attempt to outline their concerns and arrive at a solution.
“Certainly any time there’s an accident, something that could potentially harm public safety, that’s a concern,” Okotoks Mayor Bill Robertson said Friday. “Thankfully, nobody was hurt and in the end, it was a relatively minor incident.”
According to Robertson, the airstrip and flying school fall under Transport Canada’s jurisdiction.
“If somebody has a concern, something they feel perhaps is out of line of what is actually allowed there, give us a letter,” he said. “We certainly can forward things to Transport Canada or contact Transport Canada directly with those concerns.”
Drake Landing residents gathered on Friday afternoon to discuss their concerns and any possible solutions to take to officials to quell any concerns.
“I think everyone would love to see the flying school relocate but we understand that might not be an option,” Kiefuik said. “But perhaps some regulation into how often they can fly, maybe specific hours of the day, certain days a week.”
Global News’ repeated requests for comment from Calgary-Okotoks Flight School were not returned.
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