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Published February 8, 2008


Re: Neighbors are angered by airport's growth plan (story, Feb. 1)

A pilot's viewpoint

After having just read your article in the City Times, I find your reporting anything but fair and balanced. As a prior military transport pilot, a general aviation enthusiast, an aircraft owner, a hangar lessee at Peter O. Knight airport, as a homeowner on Davis Islands, and a professional airline pilot with a major airline with a master's degree in aeronautical science from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, I was disappointed to read your article, which is supportive of such a small vocal minority of the Davis Islands community.

You are correct that the Hillsborough County Aviation Authority is legally within their rights to do anything they want to the airport. What you don't point out is that the HCAA agreed to do absolutely nothing with all the property west of the runway AND to do nothing with the land due south near the yacht basin that they acquired when the city of Tampa sold the property. The HCAA has bent over backward to accommodate Davis Islands residents, and frankly, I have little sympathy for the people who live next to the airport. They knew what they were buying since the airport has been operating on Davis Islands since the early 1900s.

For the vocal minority to even suggest that POK airport will be expanded to accommodate large jet aircraft is absurd at best. With a total usable runway length of only 3,405 feet, even the smallest Citation jets have a difficult time even considering landing (there). The reconfiguration of the airport is a federal mandate enforced by the Florida Department of Transportation. The HCAA is complying with the law without diminishing the utility of the existing runway.

Funny, I never heard any uprising when the Davis Island Yacht Club expanded its clubhouse by over 100 percent, blocking south views over the bay. To infer that a few hangars over a quarter of mile away will impede anyone's view of the channel or Hookers Point is laughable.

I am also amazed you didn't ask any of the commercial enterprises on Davis Islands if they were in support of the proposed changes. More hangars, more tie down spaces, and better facilities mean more people coming to Davis Islands, and more business to all commercial operators. This includes the proposed greenway along the western edge of the airport, the boat ramps, DIYC, the dog walks and all the public park space that surrounds the airport.

Harold B. Gilbert, major, USAF, Ret., Davis Islands

[Last modified February 7, 2008, 07:55:30]

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