This letter is intended to address the dangerous, harassing behavior by pilots operating out of Pearson Airfield (“Pearson Airfield” or “KVUO”) and the ongoing health risk to city residents. The supporting documentation is too voluminous but is readily accessible through the provided links.
I live in the Northwest Neighborhood of Vancouver, Washington. A small group of young men (pilots) are targeting my home with their planes. No, I’m not making this up! On this web site you can find many examples of planes that deliberately go out of the way to fly over my home and the Northwest Neighborhood. Also, included are links to public websites that display and store flight data, so you can do the analysis for yourselves.
The most unfortunate consequence is that everyone in the Northwest Neighborhood is subjected to the same low flying, loud harassing planes. I have never met or interacted with these individuals. Their targeted harassment of me is truly a page out of the Lord of the Flies.
To make matters worse, the pilots and their planes spew LEAD everywhere. Yes—again I’m not making this up! Small planes are the last transportation segment to use leaded fuel. There is no safe limit for lead in the environment. Please go to www.citizensforhealthycommunities.com to learn more about how our neighborhood and our children are being poisoned.
There is a solution. FAA regulation states that pilots are required to fly a minimum 2,000 ft horizontally from settlements. Additionally, the City Council has the authority to regulate the flight paths of these planes over our neighborhoods; in this instance, away from the Northwest Neighborhood.
There is a lot of information to digest. In assembling the materials, I asked myself what is the evidentiary threshold necessary to convince an objective observer? I can’t answer the legal question, but I can, in my estimation, state that the facts are overwhelming with hundreds of examples. If, after reading this letter and reviewing the supporting evidence online, you find an alignment with my reasoning, then I ask you to please assist me in this effort to redirect these small planes. We can and should enjoy more peaceful, quieter neighborhoods.
Codification of Air Traffic Patterns
FAA regulations mandate that “no person may operate an aircraft over congested areas,” and that pilots must fly “over any congested area of a city, town, or settlement, or over any open air assembly of persons, an altitude of 1,000 feet above the highest obstacle within a horizontal radius of 2,000 feet of the aircraft.” The FAA also mandates that “no person may operate an aircraft in a careless or reckless manner so as to endanger the life or property of another.” While FAA regulations are more relaxed for experimental aircraft, the FAA still states, “no person may operate an aircraft that has an experimental certificate over a densely populated area or in a congested airway. The Administrator may issue special operating limitations for particular aircraft to permit takeoffs and landings to be conducted over a densely populated area or in a congested airway, in accordance with terms and conditions specified in the authorization in the interest of safety in air commerce.”
The City of Vancouver and the Northwest Neighborhood is a “congested area” within the meaning of FAA regulations. As such, no aircraft may legally fly within city limits below 1,000 feet, except in airspace shared with PDX. Pilots are supposed to fly below 700 feet when approaching the airport and on the runway’s center line. KVUO requires pilots to climb 440 feet per nautical mile after takeoff and after exiting the runway’s center line. Nevertheless, none of these requirements dictate which direction planes may fly after taking off or when making an approach. A hard right turn takes the pilots directly over the Northwest neighborhoods. Single engine (SE) and multi engine (ME) planes can and should fly west of Vancouver Island.
The Northwest Vancouver neighborhood is subjected to a different kind of disruption which is neither expected nor consented to: constant low-flying planes out of Pearson Airfield. The flights are not only loud, they are also a known safety risk. The flights directly over my home are frequent and not random. I am being harassed. Many residents of the area are able to hear and feel the vibrations from low-flying aircraft in their homes at all hours of the day. Recently, the flights have increased in frequency and the noise has correspondingly increased significantly over the last few months. Furthermore, I have observed pilots passing each other within seconds or flying in formation in a reckless, careless manner that endangers not only the pilots’ lives but also the lives of the residents whose homes they pass over. All of this is observable using the WebTrak application which displays historic flight information. This reckless behavior on the part of pilots is an urgent public safety issue.
Unfortunately, a handful of pilots out of Pearson Airfield ignore FAA regulations and KVUO procedures and are flying within a few hundred vertical feet of residences several nautical miles away from Pearson Airfield. Publicly available flight records confirm that planes are flying as low as five hundred (500) feet above my home, which is approximately 3 miles away from the Pearson Airfield runway and on an approximate bearing of 350 degrees from the runway’s center line. Parts of the Northwest Neighborhood are on a bluff that ranges between 60 and 150 feet high, which makes it especially important for pilots to avoid flying over that area when they don’t adjust altitude to maintain minimums. Even if pilots are locally prevented from flying at the FAA’s required 1,000 ft altitude due to PDX airspace restrictions, at the least, planes should be flying away from the bluff because of the 2,000 ft horizontal distance requirement.
I began tracking the number of small aircraft flights over my home using publicly available data. Per FAA law, pilots must carry GPS tracking devices to track their flight path unless they are flying experimental aircraft, which many times fly with the transponder off. Pilots willfully turn off the plane’s locating device so they can fly without leaving a trace. The information used in the following analysis was gleaned from publicly available data sources https://webtrak.emsbk.com/pdx4 and www.flightradar24.com. Sample data and analysis are available on the home page of this site. The data confirms that the pilots are flying directly overhead and much closer than FAA regulations allow and with much more frequency. Most disturbing are the contortions that pilots take to directly fly over my home in apparently deliberate attempts to intimidate.
For example, starting on Monday, May 16th and running through Sunday, May 22nd, 2020, more than 220 small planes flew directly overheard or nearby my home and neighboring airspace. Some of these planes fly so low that I can see the pilots making obscene and threatening gestures. On a continuing basis, planes circle over my home, perform wingtip stands less than 200 yards west after passing directly overhead and back again, make figure eights, sharply bank overhead at full throttle, and fly over in the dark when the home is not visible from the air. Multiple planes have attempted to pass over my home from opposite directions, which creates a collision hazard and also have flown in formation passing overhead less than 10 seconds apart. This intentionally intimidating and harassing behavior continues, prompting this letter. Yesterday, May 24, 2020, 40 or more planes flew directly or nearby (500ft radius) from my home. I am concerned because these pilots, who are openly threatening me from the air, not only have stored the GPS coordinates of my home in their planes nav systems but they also likely know where I live. These angry pilots could easily escalate their harassing behavior from the air to the ground.
Pearson Airfield is allowing pilots to engage in private and public nuisance behavior. Washington law defines “private nuisance” as “whatever is injurious to health or indecent or offensive to the senses, or an obstruction to the free use of property, so as to essentially interfere with the comfortable enjoyment of life and property.” The City of Vancouver defines “nuisance” as “an unlawful act” which “disturbs, injures or endangers the comfort, repose, health, or safety of others,” “renders other persons insecure in life or the use of property,” or “obstructs the free use of property so as to essentially interfere with the reasonable and comfortable use thereof.”Here, pilots are purposely engaging in indecent, offensive, and unlawful acts that obstruct me from freely using and enjoying my own property; endangering the repose, health and safety of my person; and rendering me insecure in life and the use of my property.
Washington defines public nuisance as “one which affects equally the rights of an entire community or neighborhood”or “a crime against the order and economy of the state… every act unlawfully done” that shall “annoy, injure or endanger the safety, health, comfort, or repose of any considerable number of persons” or shall “render a considerable number of persons insecure in life or the use of property.” Here, pilots are unlawfully flying over the Northwest Vancouver neighborhood in violation of FAA regulations and KVUO procedures and annoying, injuring, and endangering the comfort and repose of an entire neighborhood, rendering a “considerable number of persons insecure in life or the use of property.” Furthermore, the facts demonstrate that when these planes fly in formation over my home, there is a high degree of coordination among the pilots. That is very alarming!
There is no excuse for this nuisance behavior. My home and surrounding neighborhood provide no unique geographic reference to pilots. My home is completely unremarkable from the air. It is apparent that some pilots have stored the coordinates in their GPS nav systems and return to my home over and over again regardless of the weather, prevailing winds, or time of day. This neighborhood is not and should not be in the landing or takeoff flight paths to and from KVUO. The ridge along Northwest Vancouver is not a flight corridor—pilots fly over the ridge from North, South, East and West both departing and landing. The KVUO recommended approach procedure does not identify the ridge in the Northwest Vancouver Neighborhood as a geographic feature. The flight tracking website show that pilots deliberately go out of their way to fly over my home and neighborhood, and frequently fly overhead both out and back in a single flight. One result of this congestion is that I have personally observed on four (4) occasions evasive maneuvers to avoid near collisions between planes.
There is no legitimate explanation for why pilots choose to fly over populated areas when there is wide-open space immediately to the west of Vancouver. There is an unpopulated area directly to the West of the Northwest Vancouver neighborhood—Vancouver Lake, BNSF railyards, agricultural fields, wetlands and the confluence of the Willamette and Columbia rivers. These are clear unambiguous geographic features, which define the boundaries between populated and unpopulated areas. In short, these pilots have no reason for flying over my home and the Northwest Vancouver neighborhood at large.
If you are concerned about airplane noise from Pearson Airfield (KVUO) or contamination of lead from small planes join our Facebook group.
AV Fuel is endangering Vancouver Residents’ health and futures. Most of these small engine aircraft use AV leaded fuel, which emits lead. This is the last transportation segment to use leaded fuel. As you are no doubt aware, lead is a toxic pollutant that impacts human health and our collective welfare. You might not be aware that the scientific community has conclusively established that lead impacts childhood brain development and persistent exposure to lead lowers IQ. The World Health Organization has determined that there is no lower threshold below which lead is safe for human development. Unfortunately, small engine aircraft are now the largest source of lead emissions into the atmosphere. According to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), aircraft-attributable lead emissions cost $1.06 billion in loss of earnings per year nation-wide because of its neurotoxic effects on IQs. Duke University determined that children living within 1,000 meters of an airport where planes use leaded fuel have higher blood lead levels than other children and this is especially true for children living within 500 meters of these airports. Please note that Hudson’s Bay High School, Harney Elementary School, the Washington School for the Deaf, and the Washington School for the Blind are all located within 1,000 linear meters of Pearson Airfield. School children all over Vancouver are being blanketed with lead dust every time a SE engine or ME plane flies overhead.
Visit CitizensforHealthyCommunities.com to learn more about the impact of lead in AV fuel on you and your community.
I understand that the City and Pearson Airfield do not have control over the actions of individual pilots. However, the City owns one half of Pearson Airfield and has the power to shut down the airfield if pilots are unable to follow basic FAA regulations and KVUO procedures or are unwilling to stop their harassing, nuisance behavior against me and the Northwest Vancouver neighborhood. In addition, the FAA grants the City the power to make “special operating limitations” over experimental aircraft in order to protect the public in the densely populated areas.
To be clear, I am not requesting a closure of Pearson Airfield at this time. The purpose of this letter is to implore the City and Pearson Airfield: 1) that pilots follow FAA regulations; 2) refrain from flying over my property; 3) fly at least 1 mile west of the bluff defining the Northwest boundary of Vancouver neighborhood beyond the Vancouver Lake/railyard area where they will minimize disturbances to City residents; 4) discipline pilots who ignore FAA regulations and KVUO procedures and; 5) remind the KVUO pilots of their own suggested courtesy to, “please be considerate of aircraft noise impact on areas below traffic pattern.”
If the City and Pearson Airfield do not take reasonable action that results in clearly defined flight corridors away from the Northwest neighborhood, I will have no choice but to litigate this matter. I am confident that a trier of fact would find: 1) I have and the Northwest Vancouver neighborhoods have the right under Washington and City law to enjoy their homes and feel safe in their own neighborhoods; 2) pilots have no legitimate reason for not flying well away from the congested Northwest Vancouver neighborhoods, especially when there is an uncongested area directly to the west; 3) the pilots’ activities are not so beneficial to the City or the economy that their nuisance behavior should be tolerated; 4) the lead emissions from these planes are poisoning the citizens of the community, and; 5) pilots are demonstrating contempt for the authorities and the citizens of Vancouver.
To be clear, litigation is not my preferred path forward. I am certain that the City would also prefer to resolve this issue amicably and reasonably not only to avoid wasteful legal action but also to prevent ultrahazardous activities from endangering City residents. Please reply to my email no later than June 13th, 2020, to provide assurances that the City and Pearson Airfield will mandate that all pilots, including pilots of experimental aircraft, follow FAA laws and KVUO flight paths and refrain from flying over the Northwest Neighborhood. I hope this letter will serve to assist you in better understanding my position, and I look forward to amicably resolving all the issues described herein.
Let the City of Vancouver, Washington hear your concerns about this issue.
Contact the Vancouver City Council:
 CFR Title 14 Chapter I Subchapter D Section 91.119
 CFR Title 14 Chapter I Subchapter D Section 91.13
 CFR Title 14 Chapter I Subchapter D Section 91.319(c)
 RCW 7.48.010
 Vancouver Municipal Code Section 8.20.010(a);(e);(f)
 RCW 7.48.130
 RCW 9.66.010(1);(4)
Please be advised that my office represents my client with regard to all of his legal matters. On May 25, 2020, my client sent you a letter detailing his troubling experience with certain pilots at Pearson Airfield. On June 12, 2020, you responded to my client’s letter. While your response addressed my client’s noise complaint, we feel that you did not adequately address his other concerns. In the event that my client’s concerns got lost in a longer letter, we use this letter as an opportunity to clarify his position. In addition, while we only represent our client, the residents of the Northwest Vancouver neighborhood agree with his position and several have cosigned on this letter.
Clear Pattern of Harassment
The residents of Northwest Vancouver understand that planes are allowed to fly over their homes and neighborhood and that there are many legitimate flights over and adjacent to their neighborhood. Legitimate flights are not the subject of this letter. The serious harassing behavior and retaliatory flights by several pilots out of Pearson Airfield are the subject of this letter.
Examples of this harassing behavior include:
It is clear from Webtrak and Flight data that these pilots are intentionally harassing my client. There is no reasonable or innocent explanation for midnight flyovers or a dozen planes flying over his home and neighbors in the span of ten minutes. There is no reasonable explanation for planes flying out of their way in order to fly over the Northwest Vancouver neighborhood.
With this letter we are enclosing a spreadsheet for the month of March, a YouTube video of Webtrak data and printouts from my client’s website, in order to substantiate these claims.
My client has observed that each time he complains about the flights, the harassment escalates. When my client complained to the FAA about pilots flying hundreds of feet below the altitude that the FAA and Pearson Airfield require, the FAA shut down Pearson Airfield for a brief period. After the brief shut-down, pilots began flying over client’s neighborhood much more frequently than before at the same low altitudes as before. When client created a website, https://citizensforquieterneighborhoods.com/, and logged the flights and plane tail numbers, he noticed increased traffic after each flyover. After my client wrote to City Council in May, the number of flights over his home has greatly increased and several have been at or around midnight. While we do not know whether the pilots are aware that my client requested assistance from City Council in May, the flights have been unrelenting ever since.
It is clear that these pilots are targeting the Northwest Vancouver neighborhood and my client personally. The fact that the frequency in the number of flights seems to increase every time my client complains about their dangerous and nuisance-like behavior, indicates that the pilots are retaliating against him. Some of these pilots are clearly trying to elicit a reaction from my client for their own amusement. They swoop at full throttle, circle overhead, and flock with increased frequency and fervor when my client is visible in his backyard. My client is angered by this, as any reasonable person would be. Recently, the pilots have taken to making obscene or threatening gestures at my client and taking flash photography of him in his yard. It is very concerning to us that these pilots treat Vancouver residents with such obvious scorn and contempt. It is also concerning that these pilots who have the joy and privilege of flying, feel the need to go out of their way to terrorize my client and an entire neighborhood in order to amuse themselves.
Request to City Council
My client and his neighbors need this harassing behavior to cease immediately and need City Council’s assistance in making this behavior stop. My client has gathered signatures from neighbors in Northwest Vancouver who feel the same way that he does and will continue to gather signatures.
We make the following requests:
Time is of the essence. We respectfully request a response by July 3, 2020. We hope this letter will serve to assist you in better understanding my client’s position, and we look forward to amicably resolving all the issues described herein.
Approved by Northwest Vancouver residents
 VMC 10.05.090(c) “All arriving or departing aircraft shall conform to a traffic pattern which identifies appropriate geographical boundaries from which turns shall be made. Such air traffic pattern will be adopted by city resolution after FAA approval, and shall be posted on the airpark.”