On Monday evening at a picnic at Long Beach in that neither-here-nor-there world between North Haven and Noyac, there was a nearly constant rumble in the western sky. As the sun set, commercial helicopters, one after the other, raced in from Jessup’s Neck on trips to East Hampton Airport to pick up customers. An equal number, twice punctuated by departing seaplanes, went south to north.
Among the dozen or so adults at the beach for a Labor Day gathering, I was probably the only one paying attention to the aerial parade. Like much of the noise associated with summer on the South Fork, we tend to tune it out unless it’s directly overhead, or if, like me, you spend a lot of time at work thinking about it.
Safe to say, none of those on the beach that night were of comfortable enough means to spend $3,400 on a one-way shot from East Hampton to Manhattan. And, from where we were, a mile or more from the helicopters’ path, the racket was audible but a few notches less than annoying.
For many Noyac residents and others, particularly those who keep their windows open in good weather or hang around in their yards or by the pool, the overhead passings of the wealthy can be a scourge. The Town of East Hampton, which owns the airport, apparently has no demonstrable interest in limiting noise. A seasonal control tower, which was billed as a source of relief, has been a bust.
I can claim no personal stake; where we live, a couple of miles east of the Amagansett business district, air traffic is not particularly vexing. A large, white helicopter goes east and west occasionally, and the dull drone of planes towing advertising banners present a commercial backdrop on some weekends. Still, we all should feel sympathy for those whose lives are disrupted merely because they live closer to the airport than we do.
By dark on Monday, the helicopters appeared done for the night, their well-heeled occupants gone back from whence they came. The headaches they left behind will linger.