Equitable Rights, Letter to the Editor, East Hampton Star, July 1 2018

Dear David

Terror in the sky has reached epic proportions on the heels of the most tragic aircraft accident in East Hampton history. Inaction is inexcusable. Action is mandatory.

East Hampton Airport’s (HTO) unsupervised operations have caused helicopters to fly carelessly and recklessly, endangering citizens’ life and property for more than 10 years. The East Hampton Town Board’s responsibility is to protect its citizens and those in the surrounding area from imminent danger and harm caused by airport operations.

The following is an excerpt from a report I presented to the town board 10 years ago titled, “Anarchy in the Skies: Out-Of-Control Airport”

“On the Friday before Memorial Day of 2008 I was coming home from work down Industrial Road. When I came upon the airport, I noticed it was fogged in to the extent I could not see the end of the runway. I ducked as a helicopter took off and flew 50 feet above my vehicle. I remember thinking this pilot was a total nut flying in these conditions. I continued to see him fly south at treetop level until he was swallowed up in fog. I turned left on Daniel’s Hole Road heading north at the airport entrance. I saw another helicopter taking off and shook my head. I drove up my driveway and parked. As I got out of my vehicle I heard a deafening sound, looked up, and saw only the belly of a helicopter. My immediate thought was the helicopter was coming down so I jumped and literally hit the ground. From that moment on I understood that one day a tragic accident was inevitable, and I was not going to stand by and do nothing. No activity should be allowed that causes such a frightening response to citizens in the Town of East Hampton. I am not easily frightened by any stretch of the imagination; I can only imagine the response by those who are.”

Nothing has changed over the past 10 years. On Sunday, June 24, 2018, at 6:44 p.m., a helicopter screamed inbound, at treetop level: The helicopter was incased in fog. This helicopter was not more than 150 feet above the ground and traveling over 150 m.p.h., indisputably a guided missile. This was one of many helicopters. Helicopters flown carelessly and recklessly like these are deadly weapons, a present and imminent danger to life and property. After 10 years, nothing has changed.   The board needs to close HTO until the Federal Aviation Administration bans all helicopters from landing at HTO, for it is only the helicopters that present a danger. I’ve included photos you may use in The Star if you wish: A picture is worth a thousand words.

Doctrine of Equity: In law, the term “equity” refers to a particular set of remedies and associated procedures involved with civil law. These equitable doctrines and procedures are distinguished from legal ones. A court will typically award equitable remedies when a legal remedy is insufficient or inadequate.

The federal aviation regulations favor a few aircraft owners and operators over the citizens’ constitutional rights to their property by taking peaceful, uninterrupted enjoyment of their property without compensation. Above all else, our country values the right of people to the peaceful, uninterrupted enjoyment of their property.

Federal Aviation Regulations, Section 91.13: Careless or reckless operation. (a) Aircraft operations for the purpose of air navigation. No person may operate an aircraft in a careless or reckless manner so as to endanger the life or property of another. Section 91.119: Minimum safe altitudes: General. Except when necessary for takeoff or landing, no person may operate an aircraft below the following altitudes: (a) Anywhere. An altitude allowing, if a power unit fails, an emergency landing without undue hazard to persons or property on the surface.

The F.A.A. fails to uphold and enforce the safe operation of aircraft, putting citizens on the ground in harm’s way, causing an imminent danger to life and property. Helicopters are the overwhelming cause of careless and reckless operation of aircraft while trespassing on citizens’ air rights of their property, on their way to land at East Hampton Airport. The citizens on the ground have suffered torture, torment, and irreparable harm at the hands of helicopter operators. The citizens are calling upon the F.A.A. to return to the people their equitable rights in favor of the people, not helicopter owners and operators. The town board has the power and authority to close the airport for safety reasons. HTO should remain closed until the F.A.A. has returned these equitable rights to the people. If the airport were closed, no helicopters would be terrorizing the people, therefore the town board has an obligation to act.

The town board has failed in its primary duty to protect the citizens of East Hampton. The people continue to be tortured, tormented, and terrorized by reckless, cowboy bush pilots. For 10 years nothing has changed. Enough is enough. Will the people need to hold the town board accountable for their nonfeasance, compel them to put the safety of the people first and restore equity in favor of the people? Not if the town board simply carried out its duty to protect the people.




Citizens for Airport Safety and Equity