2002-06-22 / Letters

Two Thirds Not Good Enough

Two Thirds Not Good Enough

Dear Editor;

A while back the news ran an article about a probationary firefighter. On September 11 he was working across from the twin towers. He went through the hell of the collapse. Early on in the aftermath he was in a crisis. "I was having trouble sleeping. Every time a plane flew over, I had to look up and make sure it wasn't coming towards me."

Back on January 20, Congressman Anthony Weiner hosted a town meeting about redirecting the flight paths over Rockaway. A mother reported that her young daughter was waking up whenever airplanes flew over and that even her dog was having trouble.

When a boat is leaking a sailor will find a temporary fix. That could have been done by the FAA, it wasn't. One afternoon there was a service at St. Francis de Sales for a fallen firefighter. As the coffin was taken from the church and placed on a fire apparatus with the bagpipes playing, even Mayor Bloomberg looked up in annoyance as a low flying plane flying overhead disrupted the moment.

A plan from the town meeting was the possibility of having flights fly over Jamaica Bay and not crossover Rockaway until at least the Marine Park Bridge area and pass over the golf course or parking area instead of our homes.

At that meeting I asked a Mr. Hatfield, an air traffic control manager for the FAA, who determines what path the planes fly? He stated the pilots determine the flyover route they fly. They, the FAA, just give a general range. As to whether the pilot decides to flyover 149 St, 139 Street, or 129 Street is the discretion of the pilot.

Well I recently had the opportunity to talk to an American Airlines pilot who flies out of JFK, and he told me that after takeoff they are released from JFK control and given a vector (compass course) from Passer, a radar company based in Garden City, which they must follow. So it seems the pilot doesn't have much lead way.

Observing the airplanes flying on days when there is little or no wind and clear skies, please explain why for every two planes that fly over the empty areas one crosses over homes. Scanning the skies, there are no other aircraft nearby. Also looking west for the air traffic near New Jersey, just clear skies. Much to our delight the Concord always takes off and flies over the golf course.

We, the residents of Rockaway, deserve better than two thirds. When conditions don't allow, fly over homes all you need. But when the only reason it seems is a miscommunication between agencies: that is not acceptable.

TOM LYNCH


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