A New Approach – Letter to the Editor, East Hampton Star, July 23, 2012

Dear David:

This past Saturday morning a jet aircraft flew over my home at 5:20 a.m. That same night I heard four loud aircraft operations between 11:35 and 11:55 p.m. Of course, every Friday afternoon and evening and Sunday afternoon and evening remain especially horrific, with constant, intrusive operations.
The use of East Hampton Airport, as presently constituted, is both a right and a privilege. Rights and privileges entail responsibilities. Although our airport is used by a tiny minority of people in this community, it negatively impacts thousands who gain nothing whatsoever from its existence. Unfortunately, some of those who use our airport see it as a private club, rather than as the very public entity it is. They enjoy the privilege, and claim it as their right, but abdicate the responsibility inherent in such.

With this in mind, I am suggesting a new approach, one based on civility and community, rather than on wrangling over federal aviation law. I suggest that Supervisor Bill Wilkinson, as the preeminent town official, draw up a document and present it to all airport users on a monthly basis. This document would remind airport users of the responsibilities that accompany use rights and privileges.

These responsibilities would note that aircraft noise and pollution related to East Hampton Airport is a serious problem in East Hampton, Southampton, and well beyond. It would insist on cruising altitudes of at least 1,500 feet over residential areas (even near the airport). It would delineate appropriate daily, not nightly, times for flight, say 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. because our breakfasts and cocktail hours should be pleasant. It would insist that hell-icopters [sic] approach and depart at altitudes of at least 2,500 feet, and spiral down over East Hampton Airport, rather than use long and loud glide paths. It would expect that all aircraft would adhere to appropriate flight patterns. It would remind users that unnecessary and wasteful trips for them and their entourages are unnecessary and wasteful.

Obviously the approaches taken heretofore have not worked to any great degree, and East Hampton Airport remains an ongoing aggravation for far more people than it serves. Let’s put the onus of responsibility where it belongs, while reminding our aviation friends that use of the airport is not a god-given right, nor a privilege that cannot be revoked.