The Right Call

When severe weather threatens, the choice of whether to relocate your airplane to another airport can be a tough one. When in doubt, err on the side of prudence.

Flooding

Flooding

** Flooding caused by hurricane Irene at
Morristown Municipal Airport**

When I called up the pictures of Morristown Municipal Airport (KMMU) drowning in muddy-brown water wrought by Hurricane Irene’s torrential rains late last month, I was a bit taken aback by how widespread the flooding appeared to be. I just didn't expect that much of my home airport to be underwater.

And yet I was also heartened by something else I saw in the photos – or, rather, by the airplanes I didn’t see.

The upper right-hand corner of the first photo I clicked on showed KMMU’s West Tie Down Area, where my flying club, the 150th Aero Club, parks its four airplanes (three Skyhawks and a Skylane RG). In the middle of the parking area, right where these airplanes would have been, there was nothing but empty tarmac. This was because the club’s board had made the decision a few days before the storm to move the airplanes out of harm’s way from New Jersey to Lancaster Airport in Pennsylvania. I knew about the plan, but this was visual confirmation that all the airplanes had indeed made it safely out before Irene struck.

As the hurricane’s rains lashed KMMU, the club airplanes were tucked safely inside a hangar at KLNS – and even had some repairs and routine maintenance completed while they were there.

It turns out the West Tie Down didn’t experience any of the flooding that wreaked havoc over much of the rest of the airport, which closed KMMU for several hours until the water at last began to recede. But still, moving the club airplanes was absolutely the right call.

I was a little surprised to see in the photos how many other airplanes stayed behind at the airport. Perhaps their owners didn’t have the time to move them, or couldn't think of a convenient place to move them to. Maybe, like me, they simply couldn't imagine the airport would flood so badly.

In any case, none of the airplanes parked at the West Tie Down were damaged in the storm, so the ending was a happy one for us all.

Still, I’m glad we decided to move our airplanes. I'd hate to have that conversation with our insurance company if we'd left them behind and the ramp flooded.

I'm sure our insurer feels the same way.