Flight or Flag- not a Zero Sum Issue

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Johnstown Airport Officials Question if Flag is a Hazard

Pole planted without Part 77 application

No Hazard Determination possible

Solutions not necessarily intuitive


John Murtha Johnstown-Cambria County Airport Authority (JST) noticed that a 120’ flag (40’x80’) pole, recently erected. was “directly on the flight path for an airport runway” according to Maintenance supervisor Josh Keyser. Gander Outdoors placed it in front of its new store to honor veterans. The flag raising ceremony was performed by local armed forces personnel and Boy Scouts.

Keyser pointed out that “No paperwork had been filed with the (Federal Aviation Administration) prior to installation. The FAA is examining the location and height of the pole to determine its effect on aircraft using the Johnstown airport, Keyser said. In the meantime, airport traffic controllers have been advised to avoid circling planes southwest of the airfield. “It has not been determined to be an obstruction,” Keyser said, noting he brought the issue to the business’s attention.

A Federal Aviation Regulation, 14 CFR PART 77—SAFE, EFFICIENT USE, AND PRESERVATION OF THE NAVIGABLE AIRSPACE, provides the rules for reviewing obstructions. A set of rules which apply almost universally around the country; so, the real test is in the application of the standards. In addition,there is  Advisory Circular 70/7460-2K which  provides even more guidance. Many, many Part 77 reviews result in a HAZARD determination. However, there are many possible solutions, which can be designed to meet all of the Part 77 requirements. The analysis needed to find these options requires some expertise and the design of alternative solutions involves the knowledge of the intricacies of Part 77.

Stories about the JST big flag pole case have posed it as “Patriotism” or “Safety”. That’s just not the real prospects of the Part 77 review; a win/win solution is quite possible.







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