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Takeoff direction diminishes neighborhood noise near airport

I know that most jets take off from the Medford airport to the north, even if they are headed to places in the south. I'm assuming they do this to minimize noise over more populated areas to the south of the airport.

I've also noted that they will occasionally take off to the south, possibly on a windy day.

On Tuesday, however, it was very calm outside, yet an early morning flight took off to the south.

I was just curious as to why?

— Holly, Medford

We must say that you are a keen observer of the airport, Holly. You are absolutely correct that airport officials encourage pilots to head north to avoid flying over the more populated areas to the south.

We checked in with airport director Bern Case, who told us that having planes take off to the north minimizes noise over Medford residential neighborhoods.

Planes that are landing do come in from the south, but make far less noise than a plane during takeoff.

However, as you correctly observed, weather conditions, including wind, are other factors that can alter plans for a northerly take-off route.

Case said individual pilots sometimes choose to take off to the south for their own reasons, and the air traffic control tower typically will yield to those requests.

Sometimes the winds on the ground may seem calm, but are stronger up in the air, which could factor into a pilot's decision to take off to the south, Case said.

He noted that the amount of fuel saved by a plane taking off to the south would be negligible.

Send questions to "Since You Asked," Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by e-mail to youasked@mailtribune.com. We're sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.