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Residents near Calabro Airport complain about flight noise

Homeowners say planes are flying at “all hours of the night” out of the town-owned airport, but officials say noise complaints are unsubstantiated.

Glenn Ewald, seen here on Saturday, Feb. 17,

Glenn Ewald, seen here on Saturday, Feb. 17, 2018, is among the Shirley residents who say planes flying from nearby Calabro Airport buzz the neighborhood day and night. Photo Credit: Ed Betz

Some Shirley residents say their neighborhood is buzzed at all hours of the day and night by planes taking off and landing at nearby Brookhaven Calabro Airport.

Brookhaven officials say they doubt the town-owned airport — which is used mainly by private pilots and flight schools — is to blame.

But homeowners say the problem has gotten worse in recent years, adding officials have not heeded their complaints.

“I still am noticing it at weird hours. It’s not uncommon to hear them at all hours of the night,” said Glenn Ewald, who said he frequently hears planes well after midnight. “When it’s one every 10 minutes or one every 20 minutes, it wakes you up.”

The complaints come from a handful of residents who live west of the airport. They say they never had a problem with airport traffic until just a few years ago.

The airport is allowed to operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week, though officials say it’s rare for planes to fly into or out of the facility after midnight. Noise complaints from neighbors have not been substantiated, town officials said.

Martin Haley, who manages the airport as Brookhaven’s commissioner for general services, said late-night aircraft noise may be caused by police helicopters, which don’t use the airport.

“We’ve checked everything from a safety perspective,” Haley said. “Everybody seems to be in compliance.”

Federal Aviation Administration records show 210 planes are based at Calabro, including 205 single-engine craft. The airport recorded 39,378 flights in 2016, the most recent year for which FAA data were available.

Town officials said annual flights are far less than a decade ago, when 60,000 flights were made annually.

Frank D’Angelone, assistant chief flight instructor for Mid-Island Air Service, said the company trains up to 15 student pilots a day at Calabro. Most training occurs during the day, but students must complete some night flying to obtain an FAA pilot license, he said.

He said night flying training usually happens soon after dusk, not in the wee hours of the morning.

“Our flight operations don’t go that late,” D’Angelone said. “But a private operator can do that. It’s a 24-hour operation.”

Ewald, a special education teacher who has lived near the airport for 23 years, said aircraft often are “very loud” and “very repetitious,” as pilots practice takeoffs and landings, a practice known as “touch-and-go.”

“I get it. People want to have fun,” Ewald said. “It would be nice if it would slow back down.”

Haley said pilots and flight school operators are instructed by town officials to be respectful of residents who live in neighborhoods surrounding the airport.

“We’re really trying to be neighborly,” he said.

Brookhaven Calabro Airport

History: Built during World War II for the U.S. Army Air Corps. Brookhaven Town acquired it in 1961 from New York State.

Acres: 795

Aircraft: 205 single-engine and five multiengine planes; one helicopter; seven gliders.

Flights (2016): 39,378

Runways: Two, each about 4,200 feet long

Activities: Flight schools, sky diving, banner-towing companies, private flights

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