CHERRY POINT, N.C. – The North Carolina legislature is considering a move to squash an ordinance passed Monday by the city of Cherry Point which states that aircraft can choose the landing area that matches their “recovery identity," according to sources familiar with the matter.
Acting on behalf of Cherry Point businesses who depend upon the continued operation of the unconventional aircraft for their economic well-being, the City Council voted 7-4 in favor of expanding protections for trans-landing aircraft such as the MV-22B and the newer F-35B.
“We simply can’t survive as a business if the pilots of these aircraft move to a more liberal Marine Corps Air Station. San Diego or Kaneohe Bay for instance," said Anna Conda, owner of “The Glory Hole” bar and disco. The local Target has already agreed to build a runway and vertical landing pad for the F-35s regardless of how they identify.
But Gov. Pat McCrory (R) and others believe the move could have negative effects on safety and traditional values. A law overruling the local ordinance is currently being drafted by the State Legislature, even though the Department of Justice and the Obama Administration have warned that such a law would violate civil aviation rights.
“The state feels that planes should land according to how they were originally designed," McCrory said. "The next thing you know, we are going to have real fighter jets like F/A-18s trying to land on taxiways and vert pads. Is that what you want if your daughter is at an airshow?"
"I remember days when planes were planes and choppers were choppers. Now we got these new things that can’t make up their minds," said Jim Derbias, a resident of Cherry Point for more than 60 years. "Having wings and spinny things floppin’ all over the place. This latest abomination folds its nozzle down between its tails and makes all kinds of noise."
Opponents of the ordinance are not convinced that straight fixed-wing aircraft wouldn’t attempt to use the other facilities. However, there is little to no evidence to suggest otherwise.
“Historically, we have had normal aircraft and trans-landing aircraft operate in close proximity with no issues," said Gunnery Sgt. Doggoné, a veteran air traffic controller. "Occasionally, we have trans-landing aircraft go into the fixed wing pattern and they get some dirty looks and slow down operations for a while, but nothing like what the governor is saying."
He added: "I mean, watching a Harrier land normally is like watching a chick try and use a urinal. It’s disastrous. Doesn’t happen.”