Column: Just another helicopter cop-out

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09/21/2011 3:06 PM |

All I can say it’s a good thing 7-Eleven doesn’t sell surface-to-air missiles.

If they did, I’d be sorely tempted when stopping in because I forgot to buy milk or eggs or the like. So frequent are such stops that one of the always-friendly clerks greets me with, “Hello, Milkman.”

I think “Hello, Missileman” sounds infinitely better.

Yes, as you can probably gather, my home is along the path of those obnoxious helicopters cutting across the North Fork with a steady, disconcerting, cochlea and tympanic membrane-assaulting thwump-thwump-thwump-thwump-thwump as they ferry those impatient A-types to and from the South Fork, usually on Friday nights and Sunday afternoons.

Hey, I’m a live-and-let-live kind of guy, so if you can afford to fly to your beach house, thus avoiding sitting on the LIE for hours untold, more power to ya. But do you have to ruin my peace and quiet along the way?

And so it was with a sense of annoyed amusement that I greeted the news that the FAA is “experimenting” with a new South Shore flight path, one that would cross over the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge and then a straight eight miles out into the Atlantic. OK, what’s wrong with the obvious solution, the one that’s been out there for years and is harder to miss than a low altitude four-seat Bell Jet Ranger?

Have the helicopters buzz over the Sound, hang a right at Plum Gut and head south to the land of servants, sapphires, saffron, seashores, sand and snobbery. Those wonderful folk at the East Hampton Airport told choppers to head up our way rather than disturb the fortunate few south of the highway, as the land of the rich and selfish is known.
Aviation expert Joe Fischetti of Southold, the town’s go-to guy on the helicopter noise issue, suggests that only a small percentage of helicopters would use that southern route. (Joe was the guy who in advocating for us so ticked off the Lower Fork’s belligerent Brahmins that Southold’s supervisor received a phone call complaining that Joe was “stepping on toes.” Go, Joe, Go! Don’t step, stomp!)

In short, this new route is little more than a stall tactic, one designed to give the appearance that the FAA is taking our concerns seriously — which it obviously never has, or will — while maintaining the status quo.

OK, maybe the missile thing is bit extreme. And anyway, I see no signs that convenience stores are going to stop selling beef jerky, energy drinks and rolling papers and instead stock FIM-92 Stingers. “Yeah, can I have a pack of Marlboros and five bucks on Powerball? Oh, and is the MIM-104 Patriot six-pack still on sale?”

Speaking of Powerball, should I find meself holding the winning ticket I wouldn’t buy a manor house in County Kerry or a 1990 Lamborghini Countach in Rosso Siviglia red. No, I’d get me a helicopter. Not one of them sleek, turbine-powered jobs, mind you, but some ancient, rust-streaked, smoke-belching relic. They I’d fly it all over the land of silk and money, making sure to slow, stop, hover and say hello to the fine folks enjoying themselves by pool or patio.

Maybe share some music with ’em, say Metallica, Iron Maiden or Megadeth.

Have I said how glad I am Peconic County never happened? Our less-than-neighborly neighbors are happy to have access to the close and convenient ferry service at Orient, but through legislation made damn sure no ferries ever land down there. They’re sticking it to us royally over helicopter noise, but now want to talk about an East End public transit system. Wait, lemme guess. We’ll pay through the nose, but the service would be mostly from Speonk to Montauk. You know what, guys? We’ll take a pass.

You’re right, you’re right; we should keep the lines of communication open. Tell ya what, we’ll meet you down there Sunday morning and hash this out. We’ll be in the convoy of flatbed trucks, each with a dozen or so guys carrying Ghostbusters-type backpack leaf blowers. Nothing can be resolved unless we listen to one another.

Tim Kelly is the editor of The Suffolk Times. He can be reached at tkelly@timesreview.com or 631-298-3200, ext. 238.