Wiscasset Airport Advisory Committee

Brackett: Noise, low flying a problem for campground

Fellow panelists respond
Fri, 04/27/2018 - 7:45am

    If you buy a house next to an airport, you’ve got a house next to an airport, Wiscasset Airport Advisory Committee member Ervin Deck recalled a Massachusetts man saying once about an airport there. Deck’s comment April 25 came as fellow member Pam Brackett stated concerns about airplanes’ noise and nearness to her business, Chewonki Campground.

    “You’ve got a campground next to an airport. That isn’t going to go away,” Deck said.

    The discussion came as the panel continued drafting airport rules. The document, begun last year, may be ready for selectmen’s review this summer, said Deck, a past manager of the town-owned airport. Wiscasset’s facility does not have to have the rules, but they are highly recommended and may become required, he said.

    Brackett asked if “voluntary” could be pulled from the description of the airport’s noise abatement program that encourages pilots to minimize noise in their flight patterns and other procedures. Chairman Steve Williams said the airport can’t require it.

    “Communities who’ve gotten overly restrictive have wound up in court,” Deck said.

    Williams, a pilot, said 99 percent of pilots make the effort. The wind aloft can impact a plane’s path, he said. He asked if the problem was with overhead aircraft or the noise.

    Both, Brackett said. She said planes do not often fly low, but when they do, “it is quite frightening to not only us, but our guests.”

    About the noise, Williams said the neighborhood has more road traffic than air traffic. So he struggles to understand why she doesn’t have an issue with cars zooming past, he said.

    A car’s noise is different from a plane’s, Brackett said. She asked Airport Manager Rick Tetrev if she could contact him when a plane flies over the property. Tetrev said if those planes are based there, he could certainly talk to the pilots, but most of them know what they’re supposed to do. Pilots who would do what she described are more likely ones he might never see again, he said.

    Also April 25, the panel struck from the draft a section allowing the manager to refuse someone clearance for takeoff, or other use of the airport. Deck looked into it after the March meeting. He said no statute gives the airport that authority. He added, if a law enforcement officer asks, a pilot has to produce a license.

    Responding to a question from the committee, Tetrev said he is officially the airport manager now, no longer interim. Members said they were relieved and glad. In an interview after the meeting, Tetrev said he was honored to have the job. He planned to interview a candidate for his prior job, airport supervisor.

    The airport office will be open weekends starting May 5 and seven days a week from June 1 to Sept. 30, Tetrev said. He is lining up a rental car or cars with Newcastle Chrysler. For years, owner Randy Miller has graciously let the business’s cars also serve as free loaners for visitors making brief runs, Tetrev said. Without loaners, the airport would lose some plane visits and fuel sales, he said. Longer uses are rentals. He said the airport gets a cut of those and of Enterprise rentals. Enterprise brings a car when called; Newcastle Chrysler keeps cars at the airport, he said. 

    The committee meets next at 5 p.m. May 16 at the airport.