Since You Asked: There is no parking in the white zone

The Mail Tribune recently reported on the increase in flights and passengers through the Medford airport. It was stated there are 32 major airline flights a day, but no mention of light plane flights. Can the gumshoes at Since You Asked tell us how many total flights a day are into Medford and if the airport authority has plans in the $34 million remodel to realign the approach path to take these planes along Interstate 5 then over the Highway 62 commercial/industrial corridor instead of heavy-residential east Medford and right over Providence hospital? Whatever happened to the "quiet zone" around hospitals?

— Rick F., Medford

Medford is no longer served by major carriers such as American, United or Northwest. The regional lines serving Medford work in conjunction with majors and Allegiant, the new kid on the block, operates independently. Combining commercial, general aviation, military and whatever other category of planes appearing over the Rogue Valley skies, there were 61,164 take-offs and landings during 2006. That works out to an average of 168 operations on a given day.

The work at the airport is just for a new terminal building — the runways are in great shape, why tear them out? According to Airport Director Bern Case, specific patterns are adjusted according to the amount of traffic. Other than special events, such as holiday fly-overs, planes stay within the contours of the airport's navigational easements.

And keep in mind, the airport was there long before most of the homes under its current flight paths.

Providence Medford Medical Center opened its doors in March 1966, and the airport's noise contours were first put in place dur ing the 1970s.

"When we do master plan updates, the entire fleet information is fed into the computer," Case said. "We're on stage-three (or generation) aircraft now and the noise is smaller now than 20 years ago. When we had the 727s years ago, they could really put out a blast."

The MD-80 series jets flown by Allegiant are little louder than the regional jets flown by other carriers, but the loudest planes are Learjets that routinely take off to the north.

In the case of Air Force One or similar flights, things change.

"Air Force One likes to avoid patterns, so they'll do pretty much whatever they want," Case said.

Send questions to "Since You Asked," Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by e-mail to

Share This Story