Turbines would make flight more difficult for helicopters, airplanes

Posted 29 October 2015 at 12:00 am


As I made clear in a recent article in the Lake Country Pennysaver, industrial wind turbine zones like the one Apex is proposing in Yates and Somerset, would have a negative impact on flight operations.

As a former U.S. Air Force helicopter pilot, I can assure you that aviators – from C-130 military pilots from Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station to Mercy Flight and State Police helicopter pilots – will have their flight operations restricted in and around wind turbine zones.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) does not require wind turbine zones to depict each and every wind turbine. Therefore, pilots will not know exactly where each wind turbine is actually located in their mission planning phase.

Also, each turbine does not operate its own anti-collision strobe light. In most cases, every third or fourth turbine operates a strobe light. Also, the strobe lights are on the nacelle (hub) of the turbine, while the tips of the spinning blades could be 150-feet above that height.

So what does this matter? In daytime and good weather, it is not difficult to see and avoid wind turbines. However, in marginal weather – especially at night – these wind farms are very difficult to navigate around (or land near in the case of a helicopter) in order to accomplish the aviation mission.

If Apex builds 70 of these massive 570-foot turbines in Yates and Somerset, there will be a negative impact on aviation. I don’t know about you, but I love the roar of the C-130s flying low-level in the unrestricted airspace above our town. That would be eliminated if the Apex turbines are built.

What impact would that airspace loss have on the viability of the air base in the next round of Congressional base closure proceedings? Additionally, these wind turbine zones would make it more difficult for medivac or police helicopter pilots to accomplish their important work.

Jim Simon (Lt Col, USAF-Retired)

(Editor’s Note: Simon is a write-in candidate for Yates town supervisor.)