Ruckus from planes at Truckee airport still primary concern for residents

Amanda Rhoades
Truckee Tahoe Airport partners with the Tahoe Truckee Community Foundation.
Amanda Rhoades / Sierra Sun |

Community input

The Truckee Tahoe Airport wrapped up its final town hall meeting on Wednesday, Aug. 3, but you can still submit your feedback on its website at Within that link is also a survey seeking feedback on the temporary tower, flight paths and more.

TRUCKEE, Calif. — Most homeowners are willing to put up with a little noise from their neighbors, especially on a holiday or weekend.

But neighbors of the Truckee Tahoe Airport have become less forgiving over recent years, particularly as airport traffic continues to increase.

Truckee Tahoe Airport District officials heard comments and suggestions from residents of the Olympic Heights, Old Greenwood, Martis Valley Estates and Ponderosa Fairway Estates neighborhood during a town-hall-style meeting on Tuesday in the Truckee Community Recreation Center.

The meeting was one of six held throughout the North Tahoe-Truckee region to hear locals’ thoughts on airplane noise and to address concerns regarding the allocation of taxpayer dollars to fund airport initiatives.

After the community feedback has been collected and organized, the airport board plans to hold a public meeting to review each of the concerns.

At Tuesday’s meeting, airport representatives created three stations around the room, each meant to inform the public about three areas: information about the airport, flight paths, and a proposed temporary tower.


A common topic across all stations was noise.

Lauren Tapia, Truckee Tahoe Airport District Clerk, said on a recent weekend she tried to eat breakfast on her porch, but was bothered by incessant buzzing of an airplane hovering nearby.

She said it was a skydiving plane, and other people at the meeting agreed that its sound is difficult to ignore.

“People think when you work for the airport, you don’t know, but we experience it too,” Tapia said. “(It) was like nonstop.”

One audience member said pilots frequently fly too low over his home in Olympic Heights.

Another, local resident Kevin Hickey, said the noise from this year’s Truckee Tahoe AirShow & Family Festival frightened his children so much that they ran inside his house to hide.

“I found the noise generated by the air show to be egregious and incredibly disturbing to my family,” he said. “Especially the addition of a military jet, which, it only took off once at the end of the day that I heard, but it rattled our house.”

Another audience member thanked the airport for hosting community forums and said their family enjoyed being able to see the air show from their home.

“What is the preferred method if there is a plane flying low over my house? Do you want us to call you?” asked one woman in the audience.

“The benefit to the web form is it time stamps it, and that information is absolutely crucial, but if you want to call us, by all means,” said Truckee Tahoe Airport Aviation and Community Services Manager Mike Cooke.


Cooke explained at the meeting that the Truckee Tahoe Airport is advisory-only, meaning that pilots are only requested to follow noise-abatement procedures.

Further, the airport doesn’t currently have a control tower or radar. That’s why a temporary seasonal structure is being proposed.

The primary reason for the temporary tower, according to Director of Aviation and Community Service Hardy Bullock, is to recommend routes to pilots.

This, he said, would cut back some of the noise heard in neighboring communities because it would disperse some of the air traffic.

Bullock also said that runway selection is left up to the pilots, but a temporary tower would provide a space for certified staff to advise pilots and “de-conflict uses.”

The current tower at the airport is 36 feet tall, but it does not have staff that are certified to guide pilots. Bullock said the temporary tower — which would require board approval — would be 24 feet tall and operate between May 1 and Oct. 31.

It would cost roughly $500,000 annually, with money coming from district property taxes.

“Some residents want the tax repealed,” said Aviation and Community Services Manager Marc Lamb. “But if that happened, they wouldn’t get the money back. It would be distributed to other sources.”

Tahoe-Truckee homeowners pay, on average, about $89 per year to fund the airport, depending on the value of their home.

In total, for the 2014-15 fiscal year, property tax revenue for the airport was roughly $5 million.

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