Letter to Editor: Low-Flying Aircraft Causing Lack of Sleep

Albertson resident Bilma Mandelbaum submitted the following letter.

I am a resident of Albertson, where my neighbors and I have, for the last few weeks, been continuously subjected to huge, low-flying aircraft passing directly over our homes.

It used to be more sporadic months ago but now it is constant. My neighbors and I suffer from lack of sleep and we cannot even talk outside. One neighbor said he saw rain coming off the wings once and I was able to read, "Air Berlin.com" on the underbelly of a plane as it flew over my home! That's how close they fly.

The 5,000 to 10,000 feet that the FAA states is totally false. More important are the environmental issues - the toxic fumes and spewed fuel that are so dangerous to our health.

I have written to Sen. Schumer, Congressman Ackerman and Mr. Namgano wthout any success; each office has either redirected me to another office that in turn redirected me to still another office or has told me that they are unaware of the noise or sent me automated replies.

There is no need to fly over Long Island! Whatever the FAA wants to accomplish will come off the backs of hard working people who wish to preserve their health, their investment in their homes and a good quality of life.

I feel that our representatives in office should represent us on this issue. It is time for Congressman Ackerman, who is so concerned about environmental problems, and other politicians to take a direct stand for their constituants and not pass this vital issue on to others.

If you want your voice to be heard, you can attend the Town-Village-Aircraft-Safety & Noise Abatement Committee (TVASNAC) meeting that will be held this month on Monday, Nov. 28, at 7:30 p.m. at Lawrence Village Hall (516)239-9166).

This forum is open to all. Guest FAA speakers will be Jeff Clarke, senior manager, FAA eastern region, and David Siewart, manager, JFK Tower. I plan to be there!

Mary Valentine November 17, 2011 at 03:13 PM
It is awful. Live in New Hyde Park. Was walking my dog one morning. 20 planes went over my head in about 45 minutes. I stopped counting after a while. It really is awful.
Steven Eiselen November 17, 2011 at 05:49 PM
With all due respect...are you for real?!? It's like living near the train tracks and complaining to the MTA about the noise the trains make...which people still do. Your letter and Mary's comment remind me of when I was at the grocery store and a customer complained to the manager about how the workers rebuilding the shelves was an inconvenience to her - to which he replied 'your shelves have to get restocked somehow ma'am'. Same thing applies here, it's really elementary: you and I and Mary happen to live within close distance of two of the largest international airports in the world. As a result, a consequence if you wish, planes will fly closer and appear more frequently than if you were living 50 miles away, or in Montana or the year 1911. Let me suggest two things before you head to the forum and 'raise civic NIMBY hell' One, take a look on Google Earth or Maps at JFK and LaGuardia and see how the runways are aligned and logically picture how planes coming from all directions and holding patterns might have to land, especially in low visibility, high wind and heavy air traffic situations. Two, have a fun little thought experiment and imagine if 'Angry Citizens Against Aircraft Noise' had full control of aircraft landing routes. How would you resolve the situation of aircraft landing near the two airports? Tear one or both down? Rebuild a new one deep offshore? Unrealistic. I'm not saying 'deal with it!' I'm saying 'take it into perspective'.
Lara November 17, 2011 at 08:57 PM
i agree with steven... this open letter is ridiculous. complain about something with substance, please.
Lynn Borowski November 18, 2011 at 06:16 PM
Right on, Steve! And, Mary, jets do not dump their fuel anymore before landing. That ended ages ago. You should be more concerned with how your elected representatives ignore you.
Rick B December 16, 2011 at 03:41 PM
No, Mary is correct about recent changes. I've lived in NHP for 20 years. Something changed. Flights would only occasionally fly-over, and did so at a higher altitude. Now, they are lower, more frequent, and further north. Using Passur to track flights, altitudes of 1600-2000 feet are now common, not the exception due to weather. The flights from Europe arrive in queue at about 4:45AM and are spaced about 1-2 minutes apart max. Try a search for "Passur JFK" to see the flight data. Thank you for explaining where the airports are, it was very helpful. However, I also know the airports did not move, my home did not move, so something changed. As such, residents that purchased a home that originally and for a long time realized a quieter surburban environment, do indeed have a right to become annoyed when the environment they paid for and invested in is taken away.
Steven Eiselen December 16, 2011 at 08:38 PM
I thought a comment like this would pop up. Do you have a right to become annoyed when the environment around you changes? Sure. As a young resident I'm extremely annoyed that Nassau is one of the worst places to do business in and one of the most unaffordable to live in due in part to people that aggressively defend their ideas of 'a quieter suburban environment'. The question, ironically for both, is two things: Is there a justification to merit action to resolve the complaint a.k.a. changing flight routes and stagnating growth; and is it reasonable and logical to defend the idea that the environment one bought a house in 20 or however many years ago ought to and must remain practically unchanged? After all, places like NHP were once farms or forest/prairie, and even Manhattan was a small Dutch colony and Midtown a forest. You're correct, NHP and JFK/LGA certainly didn't get any closer. What changed, I suspect, is the density and traffic of air routes and the avoidance of flying close to Manhattan for reasons obvious. And in time, Rick, the planes are going to get bigger (e.g. Airbus A380, Boeing BWB), the air traffic larger as our world however tense gets bigger and more developed. Wait until 2024, twelve+ years from now when the population is expected to hit 12 Billion, most living in developed cities adjacent to international airports. Wait for Space-capable flights in the further future...
Pam Robinson (Editor) December 17, 2011 at 04:37 PM
Steven has, I think, captured the key issue in suburbia--can we expect our neighborhoods to remain the same or must we accept change as inevitable? It's a question that plays out across the Island and involves housing, policing, transportation, immigration, schools, municipal services, etc. If you came to LI to avoid the city, then you're pretty annoyed when aspects of it follow you here. On the other hand, the world is changing. It's an extremely important issue and we hope to keep talking about it. All thoughts welcome.
Rick B December 21, 2011 at 02:58 AM
Pam, Thanks for your response. My position is NOT that our neighborhoods should be expected to remain the same. Similarly, I don't believe ALL change should be dismissed as inevitable. Change is not binary. Degrees of change and impact exist. Advocating against a streaming queue of aircraft as low as 1800 ft starting as early 4:00 AM, the noise of which makes sleep impossible beyond then and crosses the line of liveability and good health, should not be extended to also mean an expectation that neighborhoods should remain exactly the same That's quite a leap. Opposite that, for those most affected, me being one, systemically taking away one's ability to look forward to a night of sleep in one's own home and allowing only hope for it, seems to me too significant a change to be accepted as merely an inevitable part of a changing world.


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