Complainers Bring Up Nonexistent 'Safety' Issue
A little paper in New
England, the Shirley Oracle, thinks it is on to something.
In the first article of a three-part series by Nathan Jones,
it's featuring local people who think airplanes are just -- well,
that they ought to go away.
The first segment (we haven't seen the other two) features
aerobatic-plane-hater Bill Burgoyne, the guy who helped found that
group of idle rich, who have nothing better to do than stand around
barbequeing all day, griping about airplane noise, as local
aerobats practice nearby.
You remember that group -- Stop the Noise -- we featured them a
couple years ago. Well, now they're incorporated as a non-profit,
and they're really starting to make noise, and collect money for
Burgoyne to dangle in front of local pols.
They're a cut worse than a new Groton group, Plane Sense, which
is playing, for now, "good cop" -- requesting "rational compromise"
from the pilots.
As the paper summed up, "Stop the
Noise mission is to ask for at least prohibition on recreational
flying in this area, and, from a longer range perspective, seek to
ban recreational flying entirely. Meanwhile, Plane Sense, a group
recently started by some Groton residents, seeks to compromise with
pilots via measures such as limiting the times or days of the week
during which they can fly."
Burgoyne alleged to the reporter that the FAA isn't enforcing
its rules; at least the reporter had the brains to ask the FAA
about that. Result: "An FAA spokesman said the agency has
investigated all Stop the Noise's complaints and have found no
evidence of wrongdoing on the part of pilots."
Burgoyne is also taking potshots at EAA and AOPA, for
"spearheading" what he calls a movement, "to make becoming a pilot
of a personal aircraft 'as easy as learning to drive a boat or
motorcycle.'" Given the silence on Sport Pilot by AOPA, one
Burgoyne's "science" is a
thing of beauty, too. He got the reporter to print, if not believe,
this: "The area crosses a federal airway, which means there is
technically not supposed any aerobatic flying within four nautical
miles of its boundaries, he said. Further, planes are not supposed
to be flying lower than 1,500 feet or higher than 4,000 feet. This
problem is complicated by the fact that many such planes have only
barometric altimeters, which don't respond to hill elevations,
causing the plan to dip below the 1,500-foot minimum, he said."
Lots of 'suicidal' aerobatic pilots there, too...
The article notes, "Lastly, Burgoyne attested to having seen
planes performing aerobatic maneuvers in night or overcast
conditions." Aside from the fact that the pilots would have little
to gain by such practice, how did Burgoyne "see" them?
With all the supposed concern about 'safety,' local resident Sue
Wolfman, of Dunstable (MA) got her whine published in the paper,
too. She notes that she's appreciative of the do-not-fly groups,
and notes that both groups have NIMBYs from, "Groton, Ayer,
Townsend, Dunstable, Westford and Chelmsford." She says she likes
her neighbors to mow their lawns, because, "Even the noises that
are generated by lawn mowers, leaf blowers, etc. are welcome since
these are 'normal' neighborhood sounds and have the added benefit
of drowning out the sounds of these annoying airplanes."
She adds that they're after Rep.
Marty Meehan (D-MA), to get on the FAA, to make these annoying
pilots stop practicing. She wants "...the flight schools and the
FAA to address this noise (and safety) issue."
Just for laughs, we looked in the NTSB files for the past ten
years, and found no fatalities listed under the towns of Groton,
Ayer, Townsend, Dunstable, Westford and Chelmsford. Going back
forty (!) years, as far back as the NTSB's online records reliably
go, we did find a few fatals at Groton. One was aerobatic-related:
a pilot list control of his Boeing A75L3 (Stearman) at the Groton
(CT -- not MA) airport in 1990, and died on the airport
property. Six other fatal incidents occurred at Groton, prior to
that, caused by weather or flight into IMC by VFR pilot (5
accidents) or pilot incapacitation (1); and in Westford (MA), a
70-hour student pilot killed himself in a 150, according to the
NTSB, in "cruise" flight, in 1966. Nobody did it practicing
aerobatics, that we could find, in that limited search.
Maybe you'd like to read more of this paper, or even write a
letter to the editor. Perhaps you'd like to join one of the
anti-aviation groups, too. We've included relevant links.