By Miriam Raftery
August 9, 2016 (El Cajon) — The Federal Aviation Administration has approved a request from Gillespie Field Airport Manager Marc Baskel to permanently raise the minimum altitude for air traffic over Gillespie Field from 1,188 feet to 1,388 feet.
“This determination was made with respect to the safe and efficient use of navigable airspace by aircraft and with respect to the safety of persons and property on the ground,” says Tim Hester, airport planner with the FAA in a letter to Baskel dated July 22, 2016.
The change comes after years of complaints by neighbors who contend flight school students flying low over homes pose dangers to residents, also causing noise annoyance.
At least twice in recent years, planes from Gillespie have crashed into adjacent neighborhoods, including a fatal crash into a Santee home in 2015 that killed a flight school pilot and student.
“I am hoping this will provide some relief,” says Sue Strom, founder of Advocates for Safe Airport Policy, or ASAP.
Strom indicates that a staffer for Supervisor Dianne Jacob’s office has indicated the change will take effect on September 15th and that Jacob is ”very excited about this.”
A similar request to the FAA a decade ago was reportedly denied.