Special flight rules exist for aircraft overflying the Grand Canyon, as depicted in this navigational chart.

Special flight rules exist for aircraft overflying the Grand Canyon, as depicted in this navigational chart.

Most days, the airspace over The Confluence remains pristine and quiet.

That is thanks to tight regulations by the Federal Aviation Administration, in cooperation with the National Parks Service.

Curfews on flights restrict overflights to core daytime hours. Altitudes are restricted to at least one-half mile above the Confluence — and a full mile above the area where our families live and herd sheep farther inland.

All this is spelled out in the “SFAR”, or Special Federal Aviation Regulations, for this area. Even a special aeronautical chart issued by the National Aeronautical Charting Office (NACO) exists for the Grand Canyon area, including our homelands.

The Federal Record is clear on why all this exists: To preserve both the environmentally sensitive areas, as well as the significant and rare culture of the the people on the ground below.

Now, the current Navajo Nation President — in partnership with a Scottsdale development company known as The Fulcrum Group LLC — wants to change all that. They want to build an airport (not just an airstrip) smack in the middle of what federal agencies say is among the most environmentally and culturally important areas of the region.

Initial drawings for the airport had the landing strip oriented the wrong way — crosswind to prevailing winds.

We’ll post more on this topic under “Air” in the coming weeks.

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