Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Unusually loud jet draws flood of complaints

Midnight flight riles neighbors

Express Staff Writer

A post-midnight jet takeoff early Tuesday described as "unusually loud" generated a record number of complaints to Friedman Memorial Airport.

Airport manager Rick Baird said 29 callers complained about the noise. Noisy aircraft usually generate only a handful of calls.

He said the North-Carolina-based Lear 25 jet, whose first model entered service 41 years ago and has early Stage II engines, was an air ambulance flight that arrived at 11:30 p.m. to pick up a patient who has been a longtime visitor to the valley, then departed for California at 12:48 a.m. Tuesday. Baird said he believes the patient had suffered a cardiac problem.

Friedman has a nationally publicized voluntary operating curfew between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. when pilots are requested not to land or takeoff.

Baird would not reveal the name of the jet operator, which is his custom. However, he said a letter would be sent to the jet operator reminding it of the airport's curfew and pointing out "the loud and obtrusive" impact of the aircraft's operations on neighborhoods surrounding the field. Complaints, Baird said, were made by residents throughout the area.

Airport operations manager Pete Kramer was standing by during the jet's arrival and departure to assist, as is airport procedure, despite the violation of the voluntary curfew, Baird said.

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