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Opinion

Letters to the Editor: Flying isn’t a ‘hobby.’ It’s an environmental and quality-of-life menace

Santa Monica Airport
A single-engine plane lands at Santa Monica Airport.
(Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: How nice that Silicon Beach tech entrepreneur Jessica Mah flies out of Santa Monica Airport as a “hobby” because she’s “so stressed out,” and piloting forces her to focus on “how not to kill myself.”

Meanwhile, residents nearby, for whom quiet enjoyment as their hobby is denied, inherit Mah’s stress as they pray she doesn’t kill them too.

Santa Monica Airport, an outmoded remnant of an industrial past (Douglas Aircraft was headquartered there until the 1950s), is an aircraft carrier afloat in a sea of homes. The city has already shortened the runway to reduce jet abuse, and full closure in 2029 to create a great park cannot come soon enough.

Kevin McKeown, Santa Monica

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The writer is a member of the Santa Monica City Council.

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To the editor: For a long time young people have shown little interest in learning how to fly. At 71, I find myself being a pretty typical pilot as I land at general aviation airports all over the country. Reading about these millennials and their enthusiasm for flying was heartwarming.

I was not young when I became a pilot. I was 40 when, in 1988, I noticed a sign at Van Nuys Airport advertising flying lessons for $25. I drove up to the flight school and paid my money, and an instructor young enough to have been my son took me out to a single-engine plane and put me in the left seat. The kid might as well have been a heroin dealer, for as soon as we accelerated down the runway and lifted off, I was hooked for life.

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I still get a thrill when I am lined up on Runway 8 at Burbank and the tower tells me I am cleared for takeoff. The throttles go forward, the engines spin up to full power, I roll down the runway and I lift off into the sky. There is simply no better thrill on Earth.

Doug Jones, Los Angeles

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To the editor: This article fails to point out the considerable carbon footprint associated with operating a personal aircraft as a hobby, commuter vehicle or a means of reconfirming one’s own self worth.

Any environmental benefits that may have been gained during the one pilot’s Tesla ride to the airport were wiped out many times over before the plane’s tires were even off the tarmac.

Ben Burkhalter, Manhattan Beach

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To the editor: Upon reading this article, I recalled a line in the 1997 movie “The Edge” by Anthony Hopkins’ wealthy mogul character: “Never feel sorry for a man who owns a plane.”

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His advice still applies.

Tracy Culp, Valencia


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