Photo credit: Americasroof licensed under CC BY-SA 2.5

by Arline L. Bronzaft, Ph.D., Board of Directors, GrowNYC, Co-founder, The Quiet Coalition, and Honorary Chair, Quiet American Skies

The East Hampton Airport, which has given New Yorkers access to the beaches of the Hamptons via helicopters, will be closing down for a very short period. It will then reopen as a private-use facility which will have more limited flights and curfews. Sarah Maslin Nir, The New York Times, writes that the battle over the privatization of this airport has been an argument between a well-to-do group of people who favor quick, private jet travel to their destinations and individuals who live comfortably in the beautiful Hamptons known for its attractive beaches, stunning sunsets and yes, its quiet. Interestingly, the paper version of this article is headlined, “Millionaires Vs. Billionaires.”

The legal battle, however, is not over because several lawsuits have been filed against East Hampton. Business people in the town, as well as residents who fear helicopter landings in some small-town landing strips, are challenging the change to an airport with limited flights. Nir talks to Rob Wiesenthal, CEO of Blade, a “by-the-seat” helicopter company, who said that people share his company’s helicopters to travel to the Hamptons. Wiesenthal views Blade’s service as comparable to mass transit. He said that he was already planning for “nearly noiseless electric craft,” and added that his company was “already landing seaplanes in Peconic Bay.”

Nir’s article focused on the somewhat successful fight of Hamptons residents to reduce the impact of helicopter noise in their community, but we must keep in mind there are multitudes of large city dwellers who are still exposed to excessive non-essential helicopter noise daily. That is why we must pay attention to the legislation introduced by three New York City representatives to prohibit non-essential helicopter flights, as I wrote in an earlier post.