Letters to the Editor: Airport Noise 08.10.17

Our readers' comments

Helicopter Pirates

Wainscott

August 3, 2017

Dear David:

Summer 2017: The stock market is at an all-time high and helicopter/seaplane companies are sinking to all-time lows.

The New Jersey carpetbaggers didn’t have enough money to buy a local election but did have enough to hire better lawyers than the town.

The result for thousands of taxpaying homeowners and their guests, not just in East Hampton but across Long Island, is a 24/7 assault on hard-earned quality of life and investment.

Sick and tired of this, many are now calling for the closure of East Hampton Airport. And while that might not be possible now, the day is approaching when it will be.

I’ve said all along that if the airport closes, it will not be because of noise complaints. It will be because of noise. That would be unfortunate, because there are still East Hampton residents, pilots who fly small planes recreationally, for hobby and for their own transportation, who are seemingly caught in the middle.

With both local pilots and the noise-affected in mind, I’d like to strongly suggest a course of action town officials should pursue immediately. Although the few airport curfews we had in place last summer did not completely satisfy anyone, they did have a helpful effect on the time and the severity of the deafening assault. Many appreciated that. Unfortunately, a tone-deaf judge did not.

What I am going to suggest is that the town reinstitute those restrictions, albeit on a voluntary basis. Although the helicopter and seaplane pirates would not be bound by law to adhere, they still could be held to a higher standard of accountability than that which exists now — zero.

Airnoisereport.com is an amazing innovation that allows one to track all comings and goings by tail number and owner. Altitude reports are not 100 percent accurate, but they are remarkably helpful in determining who the bad guys are. It would not take much to determine if the fly-pirates give one flying f**k about those below. Wild guess: They don’t!

All F.A.A. grant assurances expire at the end of 2021. It is my opinion that, left unchecked, the helicopter and seaplane industry will kill its own golden goose, and the political will to close KHTO will be great enough to succeed. So why not put them on notice right now? If they can’t clean up their act now, they can be assured they’ll be shut out soon enough.

True local pilots, town board members and candidates, please take note:

After five fruitless years of attempting to find some middle ground I still believe that KHTO can remain open for local pilots. But the day is fast approaching when I and others will simply push, and push hard, for closure.

TOM MacNIVEN

Low-Altitude Activity

Noyac

August 7, 2017

Dear Editor

On summer evenings at home, miles from East Hampton Airport, we are ultra-aware of every low-altitude flight headed there. Well before we see them, we hear approaching helicopters transitioning to land at KHTO from the North Shore route. Within minutes, often seconds, small jets blitz over the house or property. Larger jets fly overhead, or slightly east or west, at altitudes too low to register on flight tracking sites. Every scary seaplane flyover signals a family to be on high alert, as they buzz directly overhead following what appears to have become an established Seaplane Skyway.

It’s an understatement to say this amount of low-altitude activity is unnerving — it’s a disaster waiting to happen. The noise and proximity of the aircraft are terrifying at times, particularly in bad weather and especially to young children and pets. As aviation traffic increases, so too do chances of a tragedy occurring above our homes. That would become our problem, as the Federal Aviation Administration is concerned only with activity in airspace.

When the new air traffic control tower began seasonal operations in 2012, the F.A.A. stated it was primarily to ensure safety in the air (chaos on the tarmac at KHTO is the town’s problem!). But air safety apparently is considered at KHTO only during a 12-hour period daily, since no air traffic controllers are on duty before 8 a.m. or after 8 p.m. Thus, a significant portion of rush hour aviation is not overseen by air traffic controllers.

During those hours, according to the town’s website, the airport reverts to being an uncontrolled airport in Class G airspace, and aircraft are permitted to approach the airport under visual flight rules with only one-mile visibility — as long as they can remain clear of clouds. That gives pilots license to fly low even in good weather, often untracked on flight-tracking sites, and only a few feet above the treetops on our property.

By Monday, Aug. 7, one of several complaint sites, AirNoiseReport.com, had registered over 36,000 complaints, most filed over the summer. That site alone had earlier registered 1,364 complaints in just 24 hours! Complaints aside, every flight must be recognized as a noise event and a potential safety hazard to thousands and thousands of Long Island families. In just one day, July 19, there were two small aviation emergency events nearby: a helicopter down off Westhampton Beach and an emergency landing of a small plane on Sunrise Highway!

Once a local recreational airport, KHTO now is a commercial hub for out-of-town aviation operators who crowd-source polluting flights to East Hampton. It’s time to forget about what the airport was before, and think about what it could become next, to benefit the entire community, not just those with aviation interests.

PATRICIA CURRIE

Over Our Communities

Mattituck

August 7, 2017

To the Editor:

Gee, I received an email from a high-end real estate agent that just so happens to have offices in New York City, the Hamptons, and one office on the North Fork this past week. It was promoting last minute summer rentals still available with snapshots of the featured high-end rentals.

Wow! Is it safe to say that the one-day free helicopter ride to view high-end rentals on Palm Sunday just may not have been so successful after all? Yet many of us had to endure and suffer with relentless chopper noise all day, a holy day, mind you. Gee, I wonder how the agents and video camera crews got permission to be in an unauthorized area of the airport also that day? I’m guessing because they are so exclusive that they are in a class of their own. Shame, shame, shame.

Yet again another real estate agent strikes. Early this summer another Hamptons high-end agent did a full-page ad promoting how he gets the job done in the New York Post. The agent is strategically positioned inside a dark-colored chopper with the door slid open. Suggestive selling is what one in marketing would call this strategy: suggesting to promote another way to get to the Hamptons.

Once again, looking to promote air and noise pollution over our communities and schools is not the way to go, high-end agents. Oh, but maybe this agent also somehow missed nine years of media coverage of outraged residents on both the North and South Forks fighting helicopter noise.

Why do people think that aircraft noise is only limited to those surrounding each airport, in East Hampton, Montauk, and at Gabreski? Choppers and seaplanes don’t fall out of the sky and just land at any of these airports. They fly in a flight path which is repeated over and over again. If you don’t live under that flight path, you never, ever will comprehend or understand. However, with demand there is fulfillment.

With that said, those that haven’t been exposed to the noise soon will, as the aircraft fly in more frequently or the pilots will have to circle to be cleared for landing. Maybe then more people will want to become more involved in fighting aircraft noise? Or will they just move away?

Two points here: Choose your local, knowledgeable real estate agent carefully and ensure that they are aware of the local, friendly community that you call home and ensure that they are good neighbors to others just across Great Peconic Bay on the beautiful North Fork. Second point: We on the North Fork have tourism, too. Please respect that. Stop flying over the North Fork like we were the 495 Long Island Expressway to the Hamptons.

TERESA McCASKIE

Southold Town Helicopter

Advisory Committee