Bar Harbor Police received a handful of calls one morning recently when several unusual aircraft were spotted buzzing about town. They also have been seen in parts of Trenton although prohibited by law from operating in controlled airspace, such as around the Hancock County Airport.
For most folks, the appearance of these powered parachutes sparked a sense of wonder. Honestly, flying one looks like a lot of fun.
Others, however, had a much different reaction: probably not so much the relatively minor sonic or visual intrusion as the last straw for nerves rubbed raw by a steady parade of aircraft engaged in commercial amusements this summer.
Day in and day out, biplanes roar above town, tow planes drone on and on hauling gliders to altitude, and sightseeing excursion planes criss-cross the island showing off its scenic wonders. Private planes up for a casual flight and military aircraft practicing touch and go landings in Bangor frequently are seen, and heard, overhead.
Add to that the occasional ear-piercing scream from a stunt plane doing acrobatic maneuvers or the roar of low flying private jets circling on approach to the airport at night. No wonder people are heard saying “enough is enough.”
Thankfully, Acadia National Park and, by extension, Mount Desert Island, so far have escaped intrusion by helicopter tour operators, as experienced by folks near such places as the Grand Canyon. It is enough that, on some days, the LifeFlight helicopter ambulance makes multiple trips into town, or the Maine Forest Service helicopter is summoned to rescue ailing hikers from mountains in the park.
Homeowners expect to be able to savor the “quiet enjoyment” of their property. But on some summer days, this aerial invasion makes that ambition impossible. While those residing along busy highways expect periods of noise from traffic, nobody can escape noise pollution from irksome aircraft.
Years ago, Bar Harbor fortunately prohibited overflights by planes towing advertising banners. But no similar action has been taken since.
Also, some years ago, Friends of Acadia worked with local communities to adopt regulations restricting operations of another noisy amusement – jet skis. That worked wonders for a handful of shorefront property owners. But aircraft noise affects everyone.
If aeronautical interests are not mindful of their intrusions on the quietude of their neighbors, and do not take steps to mitigate those impacts, similar efforts to establish quiet skies may be in order.