Extensive damage done by vandals to the Carson City Airport is potentially deadly, the airport manager said Wednesday.
Between 7:30 p.m. Monday and 7:30 a.m. Tuesday, someone sneaked onto the airport and destroyed 13 runway lights, damaged the Automated Weather Observation System and bludgeoned a pigeon to death before blowing it up with a firecracker.
"They threw the glass bulbs from the lights all over the runway. They also destroyed our weather system. They caught a pigeon, took duct tape and taped it and beat it with a stick and then they blew it up with a firecracker," said Yvon Weaver, airport manager.
"These are like sick little individuals. Their parents should be very proud," she said.
Weaver and her husband, Neil Weaver, of Weaver Aviation, discovered the damage Tuesday morning. At that time they reported to police the damaged runway lights and the pigeon. It wasn't until Wednesday morning they discovered the $65,000 weather system had also been damaged.
"The state's aircraft took off early Monday not realizing there were huge chunks of glass on the runway. That could have cost people their lives. Not having the automated weather system working, if we'd had some kind of weather coming in not having working equipment could have been deadly to the pilots because they wouldn't have been able to check," she said.
The airport remains open, although pilots will not be able to get updated weather information for Carson City. They will have to rely on visual readings from a wind sock to gauge wind speeds.
Bulbs for the runway lights were replaced, but new covers need to be purchased. Weaver estimates total damage at $25,000.
Neil Weaver said shards of glass from shattered runway-light covers were a quarter-inch thick.
"That could easily shred a tire and cause a deadly accident," he said.
He said the lack of lights would make it difficult for incoming aircraft to estimate the length of the runway.
"Also potentially deadly," he noted.
Yvon Weaver said she spoke with the pilot of the Nevada Department of Transportation plane.
"I told him to be sure to check his tires," she said.
Investigators from the Carson City Sheriff's Department are handling the case. Patrols at the airport are being increased.
According to District Attorney Noel Waters, the vandals could face at least one felony count of malicious destruction or property, punishable by one to six years in prison, and a gross misdemeanor count of maiming an animal.
Anyone with information is asked to call the Carson City Sheriff's Department at 887-2020, ext. 1400.