New system installed at Minden-Tahoe airport |

New system installed at Minden-Tahoe airport

by Christy Chalmers

There’s a new way to approach Minden-Tahoe Airport – one that’s expected to make landing safer and bring in more business.

Using a global positioning system, pilots can rely on their instruments instead of their own visual estimates to approach and leave the airport. The system began operating in September.

Though no one has used the system yet, Airport Operations Supervisor Trent Moyers expects that to change as inclement weather arrives.

“It’s one more arrow in the quiver,” he said. “We’re probably not going to need it a lot of days out of the year, but when it is needed, a lot of pilots are going to be glad to have it.”

To use the system, planes must be equipped with a global positioning system specifically designed for aviation. Pilots can use their instruments to negotiate the northbound or southbound routes that have been certified by the Federal Aviation Administration to an altitude of 1,500 feet, at which point they must navigate visually.

Moyers said the 1,500-foot level should provide sufficient direction in storms, clouds or other rough weather.

The system is being welcomed by Nevada International Flight & Transportation Industries, which operates a flight school at the airport. Assistant Chief Instructor Roger Hivert said one of the school’s four planes is already equipped with the needed GPS unit, and students are clamoring to learn the instrument approach system.

“We were waiting for years to have a flight service like this,” said Hivert. “The new generation of approaches, which is going to be the only one, is going to be GPS.

“I think this is going to be a great step for Minden,” he added. “This is going to be very good, especially at night. With this, you’re going to have a very safe approach.”

Moyers said the new system won’t mean a noisier airport, though more planes will probably use the facility during inclement weather. The Carson City airport can’t use an instrument-based system because of nearby mountains, so Minden-Tahoe could pick up some Carson traffic. But Minden-Tahoe isn’t equipped for large planes, so traffic from larger facilities, such as Reno, which has the system, isn’t expected to congregate in the Carson Valley.

Minden-Tahoe Airport officials have been seeking the system for more than two years, Moyers said. The FAA, which paid for the system, made the final determination about installing it.