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Letter: Mather can fill multiple roles

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Robert Holderness has my thanks for a well-informed and entirely reasonable letter on Mather cargo operations. However, the Telegraph’s headline, “Mather Airport should be cargo hub, not hobbyists’ airstrip” will have been misunderstood by many readers. This is especially true for those who have not read the Draft EIR for the Mather Airport Master Plan. That document projects air traffic to be exactly identical with or without the Master Plan’s subprojects. It also forecasts Air Carrier Cargo growth from approximately eight flights per day now to nine flights per day by 2025 — not the 400 to 600 per day claimed by critics. The headline supplied for Mr. Holderness’ letter presented a false dichotomy: An either/or choice of either “cargo hub” or “hobbyists airstrip” for Mather usage. In fact, neither use excludes the other, and Mather serves a number of additional roles. Seventy-three percent of Mather’s operations are Air Taxi and General Aviation. This includes recreational (private) pilots, business aircraft, and a private airline: The Intel Shuttle. Private pilots are not just hobbyists, many use their aircraft for professional and business purposes. Thirteen percent of Mather’s traffic is military. T-38s from Beale AFB use Mather daily for touch-and-go landing and takeoff practice, and the Air National Guard bases a helicopter unit at Mather. Eight percent of Mather’s traffic is Commuter Cargo. Several carriers have a sparse scattering of flights, but one — and only one — uses Mather as a regional hub, serving northern California and Reno. Redding Aero Enterprises has two hub-rush periods per day, mainly using Cessna 402s and Cessna 208s. The 402 has twin piston engines, the 208 has a single turboprop. Commuter Cargo carriers rarely overfly El Dorado Hills or eastern Folsom. Six percent of Mather’s traffic is Air Carrier Cargo, the big freighters. On an average day, with about eight arrivals, usually two to six overfly EDH and the southeast corner of Folsom on the Instrument Landing System approach path. Most that cross our populated areas are at a throttle setting barely above flight idle. The remaining arrivals stay south of EDH and Folsom, usually turning onto final approach in eastern Rancho Cordova. Departures use routes well clear of El Dorado Hills and Folsom. Finally, generally independent of aircraft, Mather now hosts a business park. For example, the staff offices of the Capital Southeast Connector JPA are in an office building near the Air National Guard facilities helicopter unit. Paul Raveling, Folsom