May Be Some Hope – Letter to the Editor, East Hampton Star, August 6, 2012

Dear David,

Several months ago I promised Town Councilman Dominick Stanzione, as a result of his efforts at East Hampton Airport, if there is a reduction of helicopters flying directly over my house, I will write a letter thanking him. This is that letter. Thank you, Councilman Dominick Stanzione, for substantially reducing the number of helicopters flying directly over my house and giving us some relief to the constant torture and torment we experienced relentlessly since 2008. I am hoping this change is not temporary. I am hoping this will continue and the torture and torment stops completely.

In a conversation with the councilman this week, he stated a decision was made with the controllers at the newly installed seasonal control tower to change the arrival and departure routes of helicopters along the power lines to Jessup’s Neck. He stated the decision was based on increasing safety on the ground around the airport and choosing a route that provided the greatest safety by overflying the least number of homes. He further stated the helicopter pilots are being required to fly at 2,500 feet and then circle down within the airport property in an organized pattern. This is very good news since these steps are helpful in restoring order and safety at the airport. As a pilot, this was my number-one concern and what prompted me to become active in opposition to helicopter traffic in the first place.

I have often complained about the lack of enforcement of federal aviation regulations at and around the airport. In a conversation with a pilot friend this week, he saw an airplane land on Runway 4-22 without permission from the controllers. The controller yanked the pilot’s license. This is also very good news since there were questions about the controllers’ authority and their ability to enforce Federal Aviation Administration regulations. For many years some pilots ran roughshod over airport management and had no respect for folks on the ground.

Restoring respect from pilots and establishing law and order is a great achievement accomplished by installing the control tower. My hope is the town will recognize the wisdom of having the control tower remain operational at least from Friday to Monday in the off-season.

Credit needs to be given where credit is due, but not so fast, the noise problem is far from being addressed. This past Saturday I reported to the Wainscott citizens advisory committee meeting that I finally received relief from helicopters flying directly over my house. Three members of the committee stated they were pleased that I received relief, however the noise at their homes increased substantially in the past few weeks. There is the rub and the reason noise abatement is a failed policy.

There may be some hope in the future. This week the town board adopted a resolution titled, “Intent to Pursue Use Restrictions at East Hampton Airport.” The resolution directs consultants and airport management to analyze data they are collecting and prepare a report on “whether the data can justify a restriction on operations by helicopters at the Airport.”

The resolution indicates the town board is willing to consider adopting restrictions on helicopters and other stage-2 aircraft. Thousands of folks on the East End will support such restrictions if they are implemented. So far this looks promising. Is it possible an opponent like me can turn into a proponent? Possibly, wonders never cease. Keep up the good work.