Local News

Residents Near Air Station Tired of Low-Flying Planes

Posted February 18, 1998

— The Italian government announced today it wants to prosecute the four-man crew at the controls of a Cherry Point jet involved in a freak accident.

20 people died earlier this month when the jet clipped a ski-lift line, sending a gondola plummeting 300 feet to the ground. A US military spokesperson admits the jet was flying well below the minimum altitude during the training exercise.

The tragedy in Northern Italy hit home for people who live near Cherry Point.

They've complained about hot dogging around their homes for years.

Obviously, there are no ski gondolas near Cherry Point, but residents who live nearby are still concerned about their safety. Despite the stacks of letters mailed to military leaders and government officials, and the repeated phone calls to the Air Station, residents say low-flying, high-risk pilots are still buzzing by.

The view from Mick Roberts' deck is spectacular. Roberts lives about 20 miles from Cherry Point Marine Corps Air Station, something that he says has been far from spectacular.

Before Roberts moved here, he assumed there would be some military flights -- but not as low, and not as potentially dangerous.

Earlier this month, a Marine Corps jet from Cherry Point was flying low in Aviano, Italy, when sliced through the cable of a ski gondola, killing 19 skiers and the cable car operator.

When Wynnie Nunan saw the first video from Italy, she says she could relate.

Residents here say they appreciate the work of the Marines, but have had enough of the low-flying planes.

Late this afternoon, a spokesman from Cherry Point responded to our questions about these residents' concerns. They said, "Hot-dogging and low flying is not something that's condoned or tolerated. Marines who violate policy will be punished."

However, the spokesman went on to say that training exercises may have increased since the Iraqi situation escalated, and new pilots may be unfamiliar with the territory.


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