I read the “Pilots to Pilots” column in the July 2012 COPA Flight, and as there is a gross factual error in there.
The writer mentions twice that the turbines are 4,500-foot structures.
Large industrial wind turbines typically reach a maximum height to the tip of their blades of 400-500 feet AGL. The largest wind tower in the world is a behemoth in Norway, with the nacelle 533 feet AGL and a rotor radius of 237 feet, yielding a maximum height of 770 feet AGL.
I am not familiar specifically with the wind farms she mentions, but there is no way I could be persuaded that they are 4,500-foot tall structures. The CN Tower (until recently the world’s tallest freestanding structure) is only 1,800 feet tall. To imply that wind towers 2.5 times as large would be constructed is rather ludicrous, and I’m actually surprised you didn’t catch that rather obvious error.
As a pilot and renewable energy proponent, I see no reason that the two technologies can’t coexist if they’re planned right. Nobody should be suggesting planting a wind farm at an approach to or in the immediate vicinity of an airport, but other than some low-level turbulence they may cause, there is nothing inherently more dangerous about a wind tower than a communication tower. They’re no higher (often quite a bit lower — certainly typically below circuit height), and frankly much more visible.
Wind farms are usually mapped on VNCs. Of course, low-level flyers should avoid them, but for typical cross country navigation, they make excellent landmarks. I’ve flown over extensive wind farms in both Canada and the U.S. at 2,000 feet AGL (the minimum most people should plan to fly cross country anyway) and experienced no turbulence at all. In fact, it was quite fascinating flying looking down at them spinning far below.
I think it important that for pilots to be taken seriously when real issues arise, it is critical that they research their facts first. In a case like this hand-wringing letter, where such an obvious error is made, people will tend to wonder what else we’re wrong about.
DAN Legal, AB
I read with interest your article about wind turbines in the Pilots to Pilots section of your July COPA Flight, and there must be a mistake there!
It says that the wind turbines are 4,500 feet high from the ground. I have never heard of wind turbines being 4,500 feet high — why that is almost a mile high! They might be 450 feet high, but not 4,500 feet high!
Personally I have seen wind turbine blades on a semi-truck that were 120 feet long — and that is the biggest that I have ever heard of. You double the 120-foot blades and that only comes out to 240 feet diameter for the blades, then add some ground clearance and 450 feet might be possible.
For my part, I am in favour of the wind turbines as I have had a wind generator of my own going for the last 12 years making pollution-free power. And it is also a good wind speed indicator for when I am flying my Powered Parachutes. However, I don’t think they should be dotted all over the landscape near airports, for safety reasons.
Ed: Thanks for catching the typo. In all original copies of that letter it was written 4-500 feet. Somewhere between proofreading and printing, the hyphen became a coma. Sometimes computer technology can make us look dumb.
I write you this letter regarding my first experience to the United States. After everything I had read, I planned this trip with much trepidation.
The first big hurdle was eAPIS. I found that trying to get registered online was confusing. I called them directly and within two minutes was registered. Next was completing the manifest. That took a couple of tries but it was not too complicated. My biggest concern was the apparently strict time limitations (I already got my decal).
My wife and I were flying from Bathurst, New Brunswick to Portland, Maine. I decided to clear customs in Bangor. I called them the day before and was told not to be concerned about the time limitations. They were very flexible. Miscalculations are made.
We arrived in Bangor 15 minutes past the time limit. The Customs and Border Protection guards who met us were fantastic. Clearing customs took all of one minute. I had all my paperwork prepared.
I understand that Houlton, Maine is the same way. I was told that the secret to an easy border crossing is to find an airport that has Customs and Border protection guards stationed right at the airport. This way they don’t have to travel and wait.
Anyway, our first experience was very positive. Politeness on the part of the pilot and flight crew can be a positive factor. Oh yes, remove your sunglasses when talking to the officers. Believe it or not, it gives them a very favorable attitude towards you.
MARTIN J. SISCOE