Monday, December 15, 2014

Death from above, on The Road to Sprawlville, Chapter 59

You may have missed it last week, but for a couple of reasons I absorbed the breaking news and the follow-up reporting about a private jet crashing into a house near an airfield in Gaithersburg, MD - - a Montgomery County community outside of Washington, DC - - killing six people.

I kept up with the story because aviation safety and accident investigations was a beat of mine when I was at The Milwaukee Journal. These events can produce important findings that make planes and passengers and people on the ground safer, and I have no doubt that this crash will produce information that will be good for the public.

I also am paying close attention to the crash because I grew up not far from where the plane missed its landing and demolished a Gaithersburg house.

But when I knew Gaithersburg it was the country, a destination for a Sunday drive.

When i was kid growing up about 25 miles away, Gaithersburg had a few thousand people. Now it's got 65,000 - - a transition from semi-rural to Sprawlville - - with subdivisions and high rises and office parks and Interstate highway ramps and a mean rush hour like the rest of DC metroplex.

And, apparently, it has a little "airpark" with a runway lengthened to handle twin-engine private jets right in the middle of all that encroaching 'progress.'

I doubt they will close the airpark. That's not the way that developers and their enablers in town and village and city halls roll.

And even if they did, it's six lives too late.

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