February 2016

  1. In Memoriam for Gary D. Keefer – April 8, 1932 – February 18, 2016.

Remarks at St. Peter’s Evangelical Lutheran Church, Lockport, New York, on
February 27, 2016.

May the memory of my father be eternal, for there are so many memories of him that have come flooding back during these days. He was such an interesting man with his love for history, tradition, country, stories, and especially for his children and grandchildren. He taught me so much, and especially I enjoyed the time he spent with me. He was always interested in going to an historic site, or visiting family, or seeing the places where I lived after I had moved away. And I always enjoyed those times spent with him.

His interest in military history stirred for me a love for the Scottish side of my heritage, as I would listen to his bagpipe records or look at his antique toy soldiers often with a piper among them, and wonder, would I ever get to do that? Living in the small town of Wilson, I imagined as a child that I would have to go to Scotland to learn how to play the pipes. But, as it turned out, one of my brother’s high school teachers knew how to play, and that teacher provided me instruction after school. My father fully supported me in this – as he did with all of my endeavors – and when it came time to join a pipe band he would drive me to practice and came to know and be friends with the members of the band – just as he seemed to do wherever he would go. In a family that enjoys tradition, my brother Tom now does the same thing with his son Evan – driving him to pipe band practices and events. And I get see my father in that and the memories of his love for me.

This is who my father was, a man who loved his children and would support them in their various endeavors – and some of mine were quite unusual. He never tried to steer me in a way he thought best for me, because he knew that I had to become my own person. Yet, he never discouraged me or asked me why I was doing what I was doing. Instead, he always encouraged me to be the unique individual that I was – and I am sure he got some laughs out of that. But his grace and acceptance of my uniqueness was because he himself was a unique individual. He had his quirks, and corny jokes, and hobbies, and likes, and dislikes, and he was unapologetic about them because there was nothing to apologize for. He was who he was. And he engaged life with the happy spirit of a good man. I have heard from so many people recently that he struck them certainly as a cheerful gentleman, but also, that he made a lasting and unforgettable impression.

A friend told me that when someone dies, the world is changed. And this is surely true. For me, life is now different because the man that raised me is no longer physically among us. But yet, he lives. Yes, the world has changed, but the person who has passed lives on in us and in this world because he lived with us and we were touched by him.

Thank you for everything Dad. I love you.

The Kingdom of Heaven to the departed!

 

  1. Comments to the Federal Aviation Administration Re: 2015-WTE-6104-OE.

The Rocky Forge Wind Project (Rocky Forge) at Eagle Rock, Virginia, raises serious questions regarding air safety as it pertains to visibility, interference, and turbulence. Because the composition and siting of this project may pose a serious hazard to aviation, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) should conduct a thorough and careful review of the application to determine if approval is even feasible.

The Appalachian Highlands present a challenging situation for aviators. The Appalachians can cause spatial disorientation in pilots who are not familiar with flying in the mountains in combination with weather patterns that can result in clouds and mist suddenly appearing along ridgetops and valleys. Audie Murphy, the most decorated U.S. veteran of World War II, died in a plane crash in these mountains just 30 miles from the proposed Rocky Forge site. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) concluded that the probable cause of the accident was the pilot’s continued visual flight in adverse weather conditions at an altitude too low to clear mountainous terrain. Furthermore, the Appalachians are so well known for plane crashes in the mountains that hiking to them and scouring areas for lost crashes has become a recreational activity, see: http://www.blueridgeoutdoors.com/go-outside/hiking/mayday-hiking-to-plane-crash-sites-in-the-southern-appalachians/

The height of the proposed wind turbines will create a significant and difficult to see hazard high above the ridgetop of North Mountain that, given the nature and density of cloud and mist generated in the Appalachians, will likely be obscured even with the best visual marking devices.   The problems presented to aviation in the mountains, including the Appalachians, have been discussed by the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA), see: http://www.aopa.org/Pilot-Resources/PIC-archive/Mountain-Flying/Mountain-Ways

As stated, “[b]ad weather and high terrain go together.” I urge the Administration to consider the issue raised by the AOPA and what the impact that the addition of a string of 25 550’ spinning turbines atop a ridgeline would be. The issue discussed by the AOPA also represents a combination of both visibility and turbulence considerations.

The State of Vermont’s former Lieutenant Governor, Brian Dubie, who is also Chairman of the Vermont Aerospace and Aviation Association and a commercial airline pilot, has raised serious concerns regarding the hazard of wind turbines to aviation, see: http://rutlandherald.com/article/20160110/OPINION06/160119984

Lt. Gov. Dubie stated: “As a pilot with 39 years of accident-free flying in commercial, military and light aircraft, I feel well-qualified to state that placing 500-foot-tall obstacles on top of a ridgeline within 10 miles of an airport is a bad idea.” That is exactly the same situation here, magnified by the location of multiple airports within that zone. There are numerous small airports in the area and as many as four within five miles of the Rocky Forge site (the closest is Big Hill Airport (44VA) at Eagle Rock, Virginia just four nm away). In his commentary, he also cites the fact that in 2014 a plane crashed into a wind farm in bad weather, see: http://www.nola.com/news/index.ssf/2014/04/4_dead_after_small_plane_crash.html

“According to the FAA, the pilot was familiar with the accident area. Specifically, the pilot was familiar with the wind turbine farm and had expressed his concern about the wind turbine farm to the FAA Flight Standards District Office in Rapid City, South Dakota.” http://www.ntsb.gov/_layouts/ntsb.aviation/brief2.aspx?ev_id=20140428X10808&ntsbno=CEN14FA224&akey=1

Beyond visibility, the issue of turbulence is also a concern. The University of Kansas has been studying this matter and in particular the impact on small aircraft, see: https://news.ku.edu/2014/01/15/study-finds-small-aircraft-face-risks-airports-near-wind-farms

The problem of wind farm turbulence is indicated in this well-known report from an agricultural pilot in New South Wales, Australia, to Australia’s Civil Aviation Safety Authority that was read into the record of the Parliament of Australia:

Date: 18-03-2013
Local time: 0730
State: NSW
Location: 9kms WNW of Gunning Wind Farm, Gunning NSW. Damage to aircraft: nil Most serious injury: nil

Summary:
Whilst on descent to my operating airstrip near Biala NSW, I suddenly experienced severe turbulence at about 500-600ft AGL. The wind at this time had been approx. 5-8 knots from the SE. After landing I ascertained that there was only a slight breeze at ground level. I suspected that the turbulence was caused by the wind turbines at the Gunning Wind Farm but was amazed that the effect could be felt 9kms away.

After the next take-off I confirmed that the turbulence was indeed caused by the turbines.

There are many fixed wing & helicopter aircraft which operate at or below 500 ft AGL legitimately from hundreds of airfields around Australia.

CASA & the Dept. of Infrastructure & Transport have released a study, the National Airports Safeguarding Framework Guidelines D (Wind Turbines) to protect major airports, but it should be apparent that the greater threat to air safety from wind turbine turbulence lies around country airports, both public & private, which threat CASA & the Dept of Infrastructure & Transport have glossed over or ignored.

http://parlinfo.aph.gov.au/parlInfo/search/display/display.w3p;query=Id%3A%22chamber%2Fhansardr%2F30431c55-8b12-46e8-9c61-f8cee4edee63%2F0203%22

Compounding this issue is the problem of turbulence in mountainous terrain that is well known to the wind power generation industry. This report from windlab demonstrates that mountainous terrain creates known but difficult to predict turbulence problems: http://www.windlab.com/technology/turbulence

The impact of siting large wind turbines in this type of turbulent wind environment along a ridgeline, and the downstream impact on aviation in an area with multiple small aircraft airports, must be understood as it pertains to this specific project before construction is permitted.   Please also see: http://aviation-safety.net/wikibase/wiki.php?id=182374

I also urge the Administration to review the concerns raised in the United Kingdom by the Airspace & Safety Initiative Windfarm Working Group generally, and in particular regarding physical interference, turbulence, and radio wave interference, with spillover effects: http://airspacesafety.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/20130701ManagingTheImpactOfWindTurbinesOnAviation_Script_FINAL_V1.pdf

All of these issues are present with the Rocky Forge proposal, and the Department of Defense Preliminary Screening Tool has demonstrated that at the Rocky Forge site “[i]mpact [is] highly likely to Air Defense and Homeland Security radars.” Furthermore, there is high-speed military aircraft activity in the area.

This project, when analyzed in its totality, demonstrates a dangerous confluence of high-risk factors that indicate that the hazards to civil aviation presented above are a real and significant concern. As a result, the Rocky Forge site presents unique problems across the range of aviation hazards in an area with active civil and military aviation, which combine elevation dangers, weather and visibility issues, turbulence factors, and a high likelihood of radio wave interference. These concerns raise serious questions about the effect of this project on the safe and efficient use of navigable airspace by aircraft and on the operation of air navigation facilities. As a matter of public safety, it is imperative that the FAA look carefully and closely at this proposal.

Thank you for your consideration of these concerns.

Sincerely,
Timothy J. Keefer, Esq.

 

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