By Carol Lee Anderson
GILFORD. N.H. – Earth Day is celebrated in numerous ways throughout the nation, and at Laconia Municipal Airport (LCI), “going green” is a just normal part of conducting daily business.
If anyone thinks that the airport that lies in the heart of the Lakes Region isn’t constantly working toward making sure its operations are earth-friendly, they are in for a pleasant surprise.
The airport’s green initiatives begin with Laconia Airport Manager Diane Terrill, who explained, “We believe that environmental stewardship is everyone’s responsibility, and here at the airport we take that responsibility very seriously.”
“We’ve created and are constantly reevaluating our operating policies and every infrastructure and drainage improvement is designed with the philosophy of balancing the need for public safety with minimizing environmental impacts,” she added.
Over 140 acres of the airport property are part of a conservation easement that ensures the open space will remain in a preserved state. As part of that continued preservation, the removal of trees occurs only when it is absolutely necessary for the safe operation of aircraft within the airport environment, according to airport officials.
Additionally, airport personnel actively participate in a strict recycling program; however, the airport’s green initiatives go far beyond preservation and recycling.
Student pilots are quickly made aware of environmental guidelines at the airport, starting with their first flight lesson. As part of the preflight inspection that student and licensed pilots perform prior to a flight, a sample of fuel is taken from the tanks of an aircraft, which allows the pilot to see if any water is mixed in with the fuel. In days gone by, after the samples had been checked, they were simply thrown onto the ground. Today, the airport has special containers in which pilots can deposit those samples. The fuel is then dealt with appropriately.
John Anderson, a flight instructor and pilot at Emerson Aviation, an FBO at the airport, teaches students to utilize the containers. However, most pilots now use an even more environmentally-friendly method of processing those samples.
“You’ll find most pilots, if the fuel sample checks out okay, will return the fuel right back into the tank of the airplane,” said Anderson. “The cost of fuel is pretty high these days, so no one wants to waste even a small amount of it.”
All fueling of aircraft when on airport property is performed only in locations protected by oil/water separators. If an airplane is washed, any of those fluids are captured and are then processed accordingly.
Winter presents its own challenges for the airport, but no salt, sand or de-icing chemicals are ever used on aircraft operating surfaces. This often creates more intense work for the crews that clear snow at the airport, especially when surfaces become icy. However, unnecessary impervious surfaces have been removed during infrastructure improvements without compromising safety and operational efficiency.
As if Terrill doesn’t watch these initiatives closely enough, the airport property is closely monitored for any pollution. Fourteen water test sites are located on airport property, and quarterly sampling and annual inspections are conducted by a team of consultants as part of the airport’s Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan, commonly known as SWPPP. The plan, created in 2000, identifies potential sources of stormwater pollution, and if any are found, a plan is created to eliminate the problem. To date, no stormwater pollution has been identified at the airport.
The airport’s energy efficiency is always carefully considered, and one of the biggest areas of energy conservation utilized is through the use of photocells for airport lighting and its associated timers.
Even the landscape surrounding the airport is carefully considered, and if the opportunity arises, co-location of cell phone towers with existing airport hazard beacons is vigorously promoted.
Terrill may manage the airport, but she also lives in the area. She is fully aware of the airport’s contribution to the community and why it must stay committed to preserving the environment.
“We live and work and raise our families in this community, and we’re committed to being good neighbors in addition to supporting the economic, social, and public safety fabric of our region, ” she explained.
Laconia Airport will celebrate Earth Day along with the rest of the nation but, it is guaranteed that it will also continue to protect the environment during the remaining 364 days of the year.
For more information: LaconiaAirport.com