Helicopters, seen at the East Hampton Town Airport in Wainscott,...

Helicopters, seen at the East Hampton Town Airport in Wainscott, are a persistent source of noise complaints. Credit: Gordon M. Grant

Once again on a recent weekday, I was awakened by the assault of noise from helicopters and seaplanes that has been present all summer. Despite pleas from residents and elected officials, the Federal Aviation Administration has allowed this to continue.

Supposedly, the FAA is examining complaints filed at the end of 2018 at workshops it held for residents. The workshops themselves violated the FAA Reauthorization Act signed by the president; it required public hearings. I believe that whatever conclusion the FAA reaches is being delayed to time with the end of the season.

Although a route exists over the Atlantic Ocean, Riverhead and North Fork residents are hammered by the North Shore route favored by many pilots and companies. A loophole allows pilots to transition across the North Fork to East Hampton for reasons of weather and safety, even on sunny days.

Recent aircraft crashes in our area remind us of the danger that exists [“Some fear safety left up in the air,” News, June 16]. I believe it is inevitable that the highway over our homes will result in a crash with casualties. Residents demand a response from the FAA.

Jim Underwood,


Editor’s note: The writer is a member of the Southold Town Helicopter Advisory Committee.


Opt-outs hurt efforts to improve tests

As a retired Suffolk County school district superintendent, I recall the genesis of the annual English and math assessments for grades three through eight [“Suffolk’s troubling gap,” Editorial, Sept. 1]. Their goal was to help inform instruction.

For a few years, the assessments were used to help evaluate the effectiveness of our teachers and administrators. I heard statements that “The tests were not worth the paper they’re printed on,” and other dismissive comments from teachers, administrators, parents and even school board members.

After I retired in 2014, I became a consultant for the Nassau Board of Cooperative Educational Services, working with its Instructional Data Warehouse, which compiled and analyzed test results and tests themselves.

Used properly, the assessments can indeed provide insights into the strengths and weaknesses of students. Educators in both Nassau and Suffolk counties have computerized systems to help identify areas for improvement. Unfortunately, the misguided opt-out movement has hindered this ability; 45 percent of students on Long Island did not take the English tests in the spring. In fact, nearly a dozen districts saw 70 percent or more students not taking the math or English tests.

I urge teachers, administrators and parents who oppose the assessments to reconsider. Understanding and using the results of these assessments can definitely help improve instruction.

Richard Nathan,


Editor’s note: The writer was superintendent of Lindenhurst public schools from 2009-14.

Protect schools, but also ban guns for war

Isn’t it obvious that instead of teaching police and personnel in schools how to stop massive bleeding, batter down doors and take shelter from a gunman with a weapon that is meant for war, we should just get these types of weapons off the market [“Tools for safer schools,” News, Aug. 30]?

I do not want to take away everyone’s guns, as the NRA and Second Amendment supporters claim about anyone who suggests this sensible solution.

And now parents can buy bulletproof backpacks? I think this is just another example of the madness that is the norm these days in the United States.

Noreen Sadoff,



Newsday provided great detail about police preparedness for a shooting inside of a school. But what protection is available when children go out into the open for recess?

Linda Governale,



School’s ban on Potter books is silly

I read with bewilderment “Tenn. Catholic school bans ‘Harry Potter’ books” [Flash!, Sept. 3]. Amid all the issues confronting Catholics, we have a priest in Nashville removing J.K. Rowling’s immensely popular books from his school’s library. The reason given is that some exorcists say people risk conjuring the presence of evil spirits when reading curses and spells in the books.

How silly. My grandchildren loved the novels for the imaginative excitement they evoke, which is what all fiction should do.

Perhaps it is fitting that this happened in Tennessee. In 1925, the town of Dayton held one of the most famous trials of the century when substitute biology teacher John T. Scopes dared teach Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution. The case inspired the play and film “Inherit the Wind.”

Will the Rev. Dan Reehil next go after “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs”? After all, Snow White was an unmarried woman living with seven tiny but eligible bachelors! God forbid.

Charles F. Howlett,

  West Islip

Editor’s note: The writer is a professor of education emeritus at Molloy College in Rockville Centre.