The Alliance for the McGregor Airport -- an organization representing aircraft owners, operators, pilots and passengers -- has formally joined opponents calling for the City of Waco not to build a proposed landfill along Highway 84 near the McGregor Executive Airport.
Critics of the project believe the landfill would attract large birds that could endanger flights. According to the Federal Aviation Administration, there were more than 142,000 wildlife strikes nationwide between 1990 and 2013.
The expanded landfill is directly under the common flight paths for both the Waco Regional Airport and the McGregor Executive Airport, according to AMA President Sam Starling.
“As a pilot who has encountered numerous bird strikes in the McGregor area already, I am very worried that the expanded larger landfill will threaten the life of any pilot or passengers flying in to Waco or McGregor, and potentially the public on the ground below,” Starling said in a press release.
Starling said the aircraft approach paths for both airports require pilots to fly their planes at or below 1,500 feet -- right as they would be crossing over the new landfill site. Being so low at the time of a bird strike would make it difficult to recover the airplane, according to Starling.
“If anyone has seen the recent movie 'Sully' depicting the bird-strike catastrophe Captain 'Sully' Sullenberger encountered in New York in 2009, they know that birds are a true threat to those of us in aviation who fly on a daily basis, and it only takes one bird to fully incapacitate the aircraft flying out of these regional airports," Starling explained.
The AMA argued that since the McGregor Executive Airport receives federal grants, they believe it is required to oppose construction of any new landfill within five miles of the airport. According to Starling, the proposed landfill is only about two miles from the McGregor Executive Airport.
KCEN-TV contacted Waco City Spokesperson Larry Holze about the proposed Landfill and asked about the potential risk to local aircraft.
"We don't give responses to statements by groups or individuals on pending issues," Holze wrote in an email response to the Channel Six inquiry.