Letters to the Editor

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RAINIER: Bedlam in the wilderness skies

Letter by Andrew Carey, Ashford on April 25, 2011 at 9:53 am with 1 Comment »
April 25, 2011 12:46 pm

Re: “Park flight fight hits turbulence” (TNT, 4-25).

I live near Mount Rainier. Air traffic has increased dramatically, especially military: helicopters and twin-engine Sherpas flying low to the ground even at 10 p.m. and 2 a.m., rattling windows, heading to Yakima.

Then there are search-and-rescue aircraft, National Park Service-contracted aircraft, and commercial and private sightseeing aircraft. My once peaceful neighborhood is now noisy with the drone and thumping of aircraft.

Camping on Stevens Ridge, two miles into the wilderness, we couldn’t hear each other talk from the low-flying park service helicopter. On Panorama Point, it is common to see aircraft below over the Visitor Center or Reflection Lakes. At Cowlitz Rocks, more than four miles into the wilderness, we couldn’t escape the drone of sightseeing aircraft.

An airplane at 10,000 feet above sea level is only at the height of Camp Muir, and the stone and glaciers reflect sound like a sound chamber. Ninety percent of Mount Rainier National Park is wilderness; to the west are two U.S. Forest Service wildernesses: Glacier and Tatoosh. And west of those, Late-Successional Reserves for threatened species, around which noisy USFS operations (even pickup trucks) can be banned.

There should be a few places in the nation without the thumping helicopters and droning airplanes. Mount Rainier should be give a wide berth and aircraft kept above the mountain (14,400 feet).

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