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Direction jetliners take are up to pilot, controllers

I’m somewhat flummoxed by the number of airliners I see taking off to the south and veering to the west. To my knowledge, we don’t have flights to Coos Bay, Eureka or Tokyo for that matter. So why are we seeing all those planes heading toward the coast?

— Albert C., Medford.

We here at the Since You Asked Control Tower also noticed United and Delta flights, among others, cruising over downtown Medford en route to their destinations.

Our early queries indicated it had something to do with construction on part of the tarmac, leading pilots to head to the other end of the runway. But Airport Director Jerry Brienza said not so.

“There are no tarmac issues creating a different flight pattern,” Brienza said. “We had a conversation with the tower manager four months ago, and there are no changes we’re aware of.”

Weather and wind are the primary factors in determining where planes launch.

Brienza said there has been an uptick in military and airtanker operations in the area, which might have an influence on the routes assigned to flights headed north and south.

“Ultimately, the pilot is the captain of his ship,” Brienza said. “I say that with a hint of caution, because air-traffic control is still advising the pilots. That said, if the pilot asks to bank to the right, the controller can give them the OK.”

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

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