Get The Facts Right – Letter to the Editor, East Hampton Star, February 14, 2013

Dear David,

Again, thank you Joanne Pilgrim, for another excellent report in last week’s East Hampton Star of the ongoing saga of discussions about East Hampton Airport at the town board meetings. It seems like silly season continues at the East Hampton Town Board.

The airport manager, Mr. Brundige, will say anything. He will lie to the public to protect the airport. On two occasions I reported this to the town board. As the supervisor so eloquently stated, “Jim, it’s admirable of you to fall on your sword.” The problem at the airport is not helicopters. It is NOISE! Intolerable noise resulting from operations at the airport negatively impacting residential property owners in East Hampton, Southampton, the North Fork, and thousands of folks on Long Island.

This is not unique to East Hampton or Long Island. This problem exists at hundreds if not thousands of airports around the world. Councilwoman Theresa Quigley should never assume anything. We all know the acronym of “assume.” It is the duty and responsibility of the entire town board to get the facts right. Study the same problem at other airports in this country. I gave two excellent examples in my letter published in this newspaper May 24, 2012. All my letters, solutions, and data are recorded at ehhelicopternoise. com.

Supervisor Bill Wilkinson is asking the wrong questions. The supervisor lives in Montauk; I am sure he goes fishing. The $500,000 is the teaser bait, the $2 million is the big hunk of meat on the large hook. Once East Hampton takes the bait, Mr. Kirsch will set the hook, and there is no turning back. Mr. Kirsch represents Naples Airport. They spent over $6.6 million and there is still no end in sight to noise abatement. Noise abatement is a failed policy all over the world.
East Hampton will never be able to satisfy the F.A.A. Like Naples, East Hampton will find itself defending against a lawsuit filed by the F.A.A., no matter how carefully it proceeds. Mr. Kirsch will be praised again by his law firm as the number-one rainmaker. The first rule of critical thinking, examine the bias. The second, follow the money.

The supervisor had two consultants present at the meeting to whom he is paying good taxpayer money to study the noise problem. The supervisor should ask both consultants to provide a spreadsheet with two main columns, “Under Grant Assurances” and “After Grant Assurances Expire in 2014.” The consultants should answer these questions: What are the estimated costs to eliminate helicopters or Stage 2 aircraft? What are the estimated costs to put in place curfews from 9 p.m. to 9 a.m., for example? What are the estimated costs to limit helicopters to only weekday, daytime operations? What are the costs to mandate helicopter altitude heights and routes around the airport? There are similar questions regarding jet planes, touch-and-gos, and a host of other noise complaints of airport operations already expressed by our community.

Mr. Jeff Smith needs to study the Aviation Act of 1956. Only navigable airspace is owned (controlled) by the F.A.A., airspace beginning at minimum altitude and above. Otherwise one wouldn’t be able to sell air rights in New York City.

Everything I will say about the height of navigable airspace is prefaced by “except what is necessary for takeoff and landing.” The floor of Class E airspace over the East End is 700 feet. Navigable airspace starting at 700 feet and above is controlled by the F.A.A. Seven hundred feet and below is controlled by the municipality below it. My residential property is defined by its metes and bounds horizontally, everything below it and everything above, up to minimum altitude, being 700 feet on the East End of Long Island. In the Town of East Hampton, the town and its police department has jurisdiction on the ground, below the ground, and from the ground up to 700 feet.

Residential property owners should place large No Trespassing signs on their roofs, video document helicopters flying lower than 700 feet, and report trespassers to their local police department. Trespassing occurs in three dimensions. Helicopters are designed to fly straight up and straight down. It is never necessary for a helicopter to fly less than 700 feet above any residential home around East Hampton Airport.

It is so silly we have to waste everyone’s time, taxpayer money, and never get a straight answer. If it wasn’t so silly, it would be crazy.