Pilot Ken Cox was direct when he talked about unwanted birds at Fremont Municipal Airport.
“Something’s got to be done. Somebody’s going to get killed,” Cox said when the airport advisory committee met Friday.
Birds can pose hazards at airports by being on runways or when hit by planes during takeoff or landings. Committee members said there have been four bird strikes on aircraft.
Fremont City Administrator Brian Newton, also a pilot, addressed the concern.
“We’ve had turkey vultures all summer out here and that’s dangerous,” Newton told the Fremont Tribune. “And those geese are just too tame. They’re a problem. I came in the other day and I saw them there. I just went right over the top of them and landed, because they weren’t moving.”
Cox said the situation must be addressed immediately, because it will only grow worse this time of year.
“These geese are a pain now,” he said. “They just go from one end of the airport to the other when you try to run them off.”
Jim Kjeldgaard, fixed base operator, noted that the geese are local and fly from the Fremont Lakes State Recreation Area to Ritz Lake.
Cox had suggestions for how to deal with the situation.
“Some airports, they’ve got border collies that run around and keep them run off,” he said.
Newton, who was at the meeting, addressed that idea.
“I wish the whole thing was fenced, because then a border collie would be great,” Newton said.
Meeting attendee Ron Vlach suggested a propane cannon on a timer. This equipment would produce a series of noisy shots designed to scare away birds.
But others at the meeting said people would complain of the noise and that the devices only work for a while near the runways.
“Surely this happens at other places,” said member Dave Monke. “What do they do?”
Jennifer Weiss-Assman wondered about the possibility a rotating LED spotlight.
Cox again stressed that the birds don’t leave the runway.
“They don’t even run. You can drive your truck through them and they just walk off,” he said. They need to be killed.”
Vlach said he’d contact Ethan Teter of the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission about attending the next meeting to see what can be done.
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“They’ve given permits to people to shoot them, but you’ve got to meet certain criteria and I don’t know if we meet it or not,” Vlach said.
The topic is expected to be discussed at the October meeting.
In other business, Newton said the Fremont City Council approved the $2.2 million budget for the construction of a new airport terminal.
“Whether we actually get to it next year — we’ll see, but the plan is — we’re going to get started,” he said.
In the meantime, progress continues on the Automated Weather Observing System’s (AWOS) relocation. Eric Johnson, committee member, said the system is expected to be out of service from Monday through Thursday.
Newton told the Tribune that pilots can call Omaha or Wahoo to get the needed information during that time.
In April, committee members voted to recommend moving the AWOS from the northern side to a southwesterly location on the grounds of the airport. That recommendation was made because the terminal site plan would conflict with the effectiveness of AWOS usage if it stayed on the northern side.
As he did at the last meeting, Kjeldgaard stressed the need for a new Airport Layout Plan.
“We’re going to have to, sometime, get a new ALP, because we’re so outdated,” he said.
The process of updating the ALP is expected to take about two years. At the August meeting, Johnson also pointed out the plan’s importance, saying the Federal Aviation Administration looks at it like a bible for the airport.
“So when we want to do a project, that’s the first option they go to; it’s really important,” said Johnson, vice president of Kirkham Michael Consulting Engineers. “That’s been one of the reasons our terminal project has taken so long is our APL was outdated.”
The current ALP was completed in 1997 and has had a couple of updates since.
Greg Kjeldgaard, mechanic, asked about the improvement of phone service.
“During the spring, we’d just as well have two cans and a string out here. The phone service is terrible,” Jim Kjeldgaard said.
Newton said he’d discuss the situation with them.
Committee vice chairman Tom Randall asked if the subject of building new hangars could be put on the next month’s agenda for discussion.
Newton added that plans are to send out surveys about getting new hangars.
The Airport Advisory Committee meets at 8:15 a.m. on the third Friday of each month at the airport at 1203 W. 23rd St. Meetings are open to the public.