The Quiet Skies Coalition members and supporters gathered for a rally at in Wainscott on Sunday afternoon, amidst the hustle and bustle on a busy Sunday afternoon.
Members stood on the road, and also be the terminal, where pilots and limo drivers were mulling about and several passengers getting on and off helicopters, sea planes, and private jets were to forced to walk by the crowd with signs like, "Sag Harbor residents want peace & quiet" and " = no noise mitigation POWER," residents from Noyac to East Hampton lobbied for curfews and varied routes.
Residents of the Town of Southampton, particularly those in Sagaponack, Bridgehampton, Sag Harbor and Noyac, and the North Fork have been impacted by the July 14 helicopter route change, which directs helicopter traffic to and from the airport, over Jessup's Neck.
The coalition has asked that the old route over Northwest Creek be reinstated, as it had been used for the last several years. No decision has been made yet and won't be, the group says, until after the season is over and the complaints have been analyzed.
Two days later, the coalition announced a rally was organized. They was careful to keep the amount of protestors to under 50 so that no permit was necessary, according to Kathy Cunningham, the executive director. stood by.
In the meantime, Robert Lazar said living in Noyac with a constant flow of helicopters overhead is like being in Kandahar, Afghanistan. "It's like they're landing and we're under attack," he said.
Bob Malafronte, who lives in the Mt. Misery section of Sag Harbor, said he counted 45 helicopters on the Saturday before the protest and said they were still landing at a quarter to midnight. "Our company left last week it was so bad," he said, adding that the past two to three years have been "liveable," and now everything's changed.
His wife, Dorothy Malafronte, said the helicopters should fly different routes, but fears the mansions are being protected. "They're not going to go over Bloomberg's house that's for sure," she said.
Judith Axelrod said the noise from the choppers overhead have given her a headache and prevent her from sitting in her backyard at her home in Noyac, where she has lived for 14 years.
Sitting on a bench just outside the airport building, she held a sign that read simply, "Please Vary Routes." She said she's realistic. "I can't stop it. It's a free country. I just want them to vary the routes."
The group also claims that the route is overcrowded and dangerous.
"QSC was copied on a noise complaint sent to EH Airport which advised of a near-miss collision between two commuter helicopters on Thursday, Aug. 16, around 5:30 p.m., over the power line flight path towards Jessup's Neck," an email from the group states. "The resident observed these two aircraft flying far below the recommended altitude and not more than 50 - 75 feet apart. One helicopter was flying directly into the western sun, likely impeding the pilots vision."
"Eyewitness reports are notoriously inaccurate," Airport Manager Jim Brundige said on Monday, adding that the person on the ground is not privy to the communication between the pilots and/or the control tower. He said neither the control tower, nor the pilots reported any such incident. However, he said, the alleged incident location was outside the airport's control zone.
How has the new helicopter route impacted you over the past month? Please tell us in the comments and be sure to say in which hamlet you live. Thank you.