ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – A group made up of mostly veterans has been flying their model airplanes in the same city park for almost 20 years. Now, the city has put a stop to it.
Seven days a week, anyone could walk past the soccer fields at Arroyo Del Oso Park and see planes in the sky.
Mostly veterans, they cook out, catch up and fly model planes.
“It is really nice to do, it is a good hobby,” said one veteran.
But now, those planes are grounded.
“No pre-warning,” said Pilot Keith Widinski. “They just put up the signs and said goodbye.”
He’s talking about a sign the city put up overnight, saying no more planes at the park.
“Parks and Rec got a couple complaints saying we were flying drones and planes a little too close to people,” said Widinski.
Widinski said they’ve never had an accident since he’s been flying there. He also said people he chats with love having them around, like 92-year-old Ed Hudson.
“Its given me a lot of pleasure watching these little planes,” said Ed Hudson.
He’s no pilot, but loves spectating. Before the sign went up, he came to the park six days a week to watch.
“Everybody I talked to misses seeing them,” said Hudson.
KRQE News 13 asked the city about the sudden ban. They said the ordinance has always been in place there. They added that they offer Balloon Fiesta and Maloof Memorial Air Park for flying in the city safely.
“I think our Parks department acted and reacted frankly to several citizen complaints,” said Gilbert Montaño, Mayor Richard J. Berry’s Chief of Staff.
But these pilots said they have a letter from a previous mayor in 2001 designating a portion of the park for flying.
The city responded to that letter, revoking those privileges.
“For some reason, a couple complaints overrode the mayor’s decision,” said Widinski.
Now, these plane-enthusiasts have one request.
“I’d like for them to reconsider and we’ll prove ourselves,” said Widinski. “Our safety record speaks for itself.”