Several times in the last few weeks I’ve actually jumped from the sound of low-flying airplanes coming into the at night.
The sound rocks the house for just a few minutes as the fly-folk decide that it’s OK to disrupt others with their loud engines flying in a bit too low for my tastes – knowing there isn’t a darn thing anyone can do about it beyond placing a complaint or waving a fist in the air.
Both have about the same impact.
I’ll admit there appears to be fewer planes flying into the airport these days – probably the result of a bad economy and high fuel costs – but there’s still an ongoing problem with pilots who have little regard for quiet time.
Even more unsettling are two summer incidents that remind us how close we can come to tragedy.
On Wednesday night, a pilot and his passenger made an at the airport. The landing gear failed, and the plane’s wing was severely damaged during the landing, which required the services of emergency crews.
In June, a plane looped during a landing attempt and the
And in May 2010, a Piper Cherokee plane took off from the Livermore airport, clipped a treetop and crashed on a hill. Two people died in , although no one on the ground was injured.
Accidents happen. These three incidents don’t come close to what dangers lurk on the freeways. Yet the potential for a catastrophic disaster is more likely with airplanes involved. It’s a location where pilots are trained, therefore adding to the potential for mishaps.
And when you can’t even get pilots to respect noise guidelines, you wonder what else is being ignored. The problem with the Livermore Municipal Airport stem from a feeling of helplessness when it comes to something as simple as getting pilots to be more courteous when coming into the airport.
And for those of us living in the flight paths, we wonder if those loud noises and late-night disruptions are coming from seasoned pilots or trainees. Is it just the noise we need to worry about, or the something more?
On Wednesday, I heard a plane coming in a little too low about the same time as the landing incident. I have no idea if the loud, low flying plane was the one in trouble, or just some person who swooped a little too low coming in for a landing.
What I do know is that it makes me nervous.
The one thing I thought we had some control over was keeping the noise down during the night. Unfortunately, there isn’t a single punitive thing people can do about the noise coming from personal aircraft, and more likely, business jets flying in at all hours.
The airport has no control over aircraft once the craft is airborne because then it becomes the business of the Federal Aviation Administration. It is not within the City of Livermore’s power to impose noise-related regulations, curfews or penalties to those pilots who want to rattle windows during normal sleep times.
But that doesn’t mean that the airport staff can't nicely ask them to stop. They call it a “Voluntary Restraint from Night Flying” policy that respectfully requests pilots to avoid flying between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. You can call in your complaints at 925-373-5050. Or you can even go online.
The staff then dutifully places the information into reports. They notify the FAA of those individuals who keep offending. And supposedly, the FAA issues a more stern response.
But the bottom line is that there are no teeth to the bite.
So we can wave our fists, file our complaints and move on with our lives. And hope that the worst thing residents have to endure will be a few loud noises.