We live by an airport.

Recently in our community people raised the issue of airport noise. I posted this to the community forum.

TL;DR: We live by an airport! It makes noise!

At the POA meeting, there was the issue of airport noise raised. As a reminder, we all signed the disclosures when buying this property (though perhaps renters haven’t, or haven’t seen it). But in that list of disclosures - “You’re by an airport, there will be noise.”

That airport (KCTY) was here before us - since April 1940. The runways are on the smaller side (roughly 4000 feet each); we don’t see heavy (as in airplane size) traffic, and we see very little small jets. Most of the noise is from Cessnas and similar - basically, flying lawn mowers.


For a small airport, this airport is actually pretty ideal. It’s only got moderate traffic, without a bunch of people in the tower telling you want to do. It’s got indicator light to help with visual approaches, to ensure people are high enough when landing to clear obstacles. It’s got available lighting at night. It has an automated weather station. Overall, if I were still flying (it’s expensive!), it’s pretty awesome.

Other people think so too. in 2019, the average number of operations a day was 161. Some days more, some less. (I did misquote the number at the POA meeting - that’s my bad). Of the aircraft hosted at the airport, 80 are flying lawnmowers, 3 are dual-engine, 1 light jet, and 3 helicopters.

The northern end of runway 12/30 is just 4500 feet from the big field slated for the 1 acre homes.

A Cessna 172 taking off at the ideal climb speed is 645 feet per second; and that’s at about a 70 knot airspeed (or 80mph). That’s about 7000 feet forward in a minute. Doing the math, I don’t expect a Cessna to be more than 400 feet up when crossing our field.

Yes we could ask they “climb faster”. They could go a little slower - and clime a bit higher before crossing us. But that puts them close into stall territory - where the wings in the air stop flying. And then they drop like a rock, for an unplanned “landing” in our field (or worse, on a house beyond it).

No, we can’t really ask that.

San Joaquin County (and the FAA) do have rules about building near airports. Our property absolutely fell in that category. There’s a reason those homes (once built) will be low density - both noise, and in case of catastrophic engine failure on takeoff. You’ll see no high density housing this close. The FAA doesn’t want to see unnecessary loss of life caused by the aviation system. It rarely happens. The closer to the runway, the less populated the space can be - hence a dog park and storage facility slated along that space.

As to “Can we ask them to change runways”.

The direction aircraft take off and land in, are directly related to the wind speed. It is always safest to land and take off into the wind. This minimizes the ground speed, the take off and landing (think braking!) distances. There’s a huge world of difference coming into contact at 40mph vs 70mph of gound speed for small aircraft.

No, they will not fly, take off, or land dangerously to avoid annoying us. This is especially true with the kind of wind we get!

Finally: Tracy is not going to pay to relocate this airport, simply because we failed to read disclosures when buying our property. And we’re not going to shut down an airport that’s had recent federal funding (those get protection by the US Government).

My biggest gripe with the airplane noise - and honestly, it isn’t that bad - is I’m not up there myself. If you want real noise, live next to an airport with 737’s or C-5’s. I’ve lived much further from Sacramento International; and those jets (even a few thousand feet up) are incredibly disruptive.

In other news, freight traffic is up on the railroad lately. We all live next to a railroad. I’m on Northington. I saw the tracks when buying here; you don’t see me petitioning the railroad to move their trains. :-). I will say I’m glad we don’t live at the rail/street crossings - those horns can be brutal.

Additionally, we live next to agriculture (which periodically has lots of noise and sometimes even bright lights after hours); and we live next to industrial operations (Bassalite can be pretty noise). The silver lining is that we have all this green space around us, at least at the moment.

Welcome to Tracy, and welcome to Ellis Town!

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