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GUEST COLUMN:Who’s irresponsible and reckless?

On April 20 an unsigned letter from someone claiming to be a corporation pilot was mailed to my home address. The letter stated: “I can tell you the safety factor flying into and through your area is nonexistent and sooner or later a very bad situation will occur, maybe midair with one of the airlines serving your airport. How would you deal with that?”

On April 21, I sent an email to an air traffic controller working at a metropolitan airport. My email asked “what air traffic control services are available in Brainerd?” The response from the air traffic controller was: “the only air traffic control service available in the Brainerd area is with the Minneapolis air route traffic control center in Farmington, Minn. The service is only between known Instrument Flight Rule aircraft which means basically one aircraft out at a time. There will be no aircraft control between other visual flight rule aircraft and those IFR aircraft, which means no separation at all. Also the radar coverage in Brainerd is very poor, meaning an aircraft  has to be above about 4,500 msl to be in radar contact with Minneapolis Air Route Traffic Control Center so separation is nil below that. Bob if you need any other information let me know.”

This air traffic controller lives in the area and is very familiar with the Brainerd Lakes Regional Airport. On April 25, I set a letter to the city council and to the Dispatch with the email address and cellphone number of the air traffic controller, along with the emails and unsigned letter. I suggested council members contact this air traffic controller; I don’t know if they did.

The Dispatch had all of this information but made a decision not to inform the readers about the emails in an article about airport safety on April 27 and in an editorial on April 29. Did the Dispatch contact this air traffic controller? In the April 27 article, the Dispatch reports another commercial pilot who asked to remain nameless spelled out his concerns. Does the Dispatch know who this pilot is? 

Why would the Dispatch only provide readers with part of the information that I provided to the council members and the Dispatch? What was their motive?

The Dispatch’s Associate Editor Mike O’Rourke writes “Olson’s irresponsible and reckless behavior.” Why then would the Dispatch do a front page story on my information?

 Also doesn’t the Dispatch promote “Vox Pop,” anonymous letters in the Dispatch?; isn’t that irresponsible and reckless behavior, or does the Dispatch have double standards?

It also sounds like the editorial writer doesn’t believe there is a conflict of interest occurring at the airport.

I would suggest Mayor Wallin read all of the material before he decides to write an Open Forum. Did Mr. Wallin take time to contact the air traffic controller?

The readers can decide who is “irresponsible and reckless.”

EDITOR’S NOTE: The air traffic controller who responded to Olson’s email was Glen Nygard.