East Hampton Star – Letter to the Editor

Xs on the Runways


June 21, 2010

Dear David,

On Monday, June 7, at 3:23 a.m., a helicopter landed at East Hampton Airport; at 3:38 a.m. a helicopter took off at East Hampton Airport. From 3:23 a.m. to 3:38 a.m. that helicopter was permitted to operate by our town supervisor and the town board on town-owned land.

On Thursday, June 10, at 1:59 a.m., an airplane taxied on the runway at East Hampton Airport and took off. Again, the airplane was permitted to operate on East Hampton Town-owned land.

Saturday night, June 19, at 11:41, a jet plane took off at East Hampton Airport. The plane was not one of those newer quieter jets; it was very loud on takeoff. At 11:47 p.m. a helicopter landed, and at 11:59 p.m. a helicopter took off. Islip Airport even has the sense to close down at 11 p.m., so what’s the deal?

Shame on our town supervisor. Shame on our town board for operating an airport with no regard for the residents who may be sleeping at that time of night. These residents are promised by the laws of East Hampton to have quiet enjoyment of their property. Shame, shame for operating an airport with total disregard for the town’s own countless laws prohibiting businesses, construction, music, or other activities that generate noise from operating after 11 p.m.

To be perfectly clear: East Hampton Airport is owned by East Hampton Town. Regarding the operation of the airport, the buck stops with the town supervisor and the town board. There are two entire sections in the East Hampton law that regulate airport operations and aircraft at the airport and in East Hampton Town. If the airport manager or any town official tells you that they can’t do anything to control the times aircraft fly in and out of the airport it is total nonsense. It is absolutely ridiculous. It is not true. When I first heard that excuse, I walked away thinking, “Are they stupid, or are they trying to insult my intelligence?”

Of course they can do something! They can make a new law. They can temporarily close the airport. They can cease operations altogether at the airport if that’s what it takes. If the town threatened to shut down the airport, don’t you think the aircraft owners, operators, and pilots would act differently? Of course they would. Here is how it should start:

Aircraft owners, operators, pilots, and demanding passengers who believe they must fly after 11 p.m. and before 7 a.m. are selfish, spoiled children with no consideration for anyone else, so the town must treat them like children. The town should send a letter to all aircraft owners and operators, notify pilots by sending out a “notice to airmen” that when any aircraft flies in or out of East Hampton Airport between the hours of 11 p.m. and 7 a.m., the town will shut the airport down the following weekend.

Yup, put the Xs on the runways and shut the airport down for the entire weekend. I remember when our children didn’t play well with their toys; we took their toys away. It really is that simple.

Come on, supervisor and board, stand up for the citizens of East Hampton. If the Federal Aviation Administration has something to say about it, demand it fixes it. Absent that, declare home rule and take back control of the airport that you have responsibility for operating. Start acting responsible. When you see that works, you may do the same for unsafe, tree-top-flying aircraft and commercial operations of aircraft. (Data, videos, and an online petition are available on www.ehhelicopternoise.com.)



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