Queen Creek OKs measure to allow light jets at airpark

The Queen Creek Town Council unanimously approved a change in the conditional-use permit at Pegasus Airpark to allow very light jets, propulsion technology aircraft that develops in the future, and the construction of a jet fuel tank.

Pegasus Airpark is a gated residential aviation community located east of Ellsworth Road and north of Empire Road that was approved in 1994. The park contains 180 1-acre lots, several of which have access to a taxiway and to the private runway. Some homes have hangars for their planes on the lot. Only 30 to 40 of those lots have occupied homes.

“Very light jets” refers to the classification given single-pilot aircraft weighing less than 12,500 pounds that can land on shorter runways than larger corporate or private jets. Some consider the craft the wave of the future in air flight.

The council’s decision Wednesday ran counter to the opinions of several residents of Queen Creek and the county islands in the airpark’s vicinity who spoke at the public hearing earlier. They complained of out-of-control, low-flying aircraft operating out of the park and generally opposed growth at the development. Others supported the planes.

The Pegasus Airpark Flight Association is responsible for the operation of the airpark and requested the permit change, with the support of the Pegasus Airpark Homeowners Association.

Some Pegasus Fight Association members who use the airpark are lot owners and not subdivision residents, said resident Trudy Talavera, on behalf of a group of about 30 residents living north and west of the airpark who opposed very light jets.

“Make no mistake – this is an airpark for people who don’t live there,” Talavera said.

“Not all residents living within the one-half mile radius of the Pegasus Development were notified of possible changes,” she said in a later interview. “In addition, residents living directly under the Pegasus Airport flight path were not treated as stakeholders and notified.”

Resident Jodi Allred said allowing very light jets might increase airpark property values as the development is allowed to attract residents who own this type of aircraft, but warned that property values in the surrounding area and under the flight path will decrease.

Other opponents expressed similar concerns.

“I moved out here to ride my horse,” Thomas Lang said. “I swear I could have seen that (pilot) sweating as he flew over my house.”

Pegasus Flight Association President Jack McCormick said the group can and will regulate the behavior of its members who break the rules and decide to “hot-dog” or barnstorm houses. The association can impose a $500 fine and restrict a pilot’s use of the airpark.

McCormick said he needs the time of the incident and the aircraft’s number to pursue an investigation.

Resident Carl Allred said he would object to the approval of future technology aircraft sight unseen.

“Approving without knowing the capabilities of the planes is like writing a blank check,” Allred said.

Richard Yerian, who lives in Gilbert but has a hangar at Pegasus Airpark, said future technologies such as electric-powered aircraft will be very quiet.

Councilwoman Dawn Oliphant said a number of the comments at the hearing in opposition to the very light jets were about the pilots and the aircraft currently approved to fly in and out of the park and not about very light jets.

“I encourage you (the flight association) to reach out to these pilots with these residents’ concerns,” Oliphant said.

Councilwoman Julia Wheatley said she sympathized with residents living in the direct flight path of the planes and “at first had a lot of bias about the jets.” However, after witnessing the demonstration, she changed her mind because her infant slept through the takeoff. She concluded that very light jets are less noisy than the piston-powered planes already approved for use at the park.

Pegasus homeowner Dan Coury said, “we need to be more courteous and monitor our own people. We plan on being very good neighbors.”

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