Not-so-friendly skies



As the intense reaction by bat researchers suggests, many residents of Mount Desert Island are becoming annoyed at the increasing levels of noise and intrusion from evening airplane flights.

For the last week or so, a high-powered Cessna 182 float plane has made repeated circuits of MDI, drawing complaints from Bass Harbor, Southwest Harbor, Northeast Harbor and Bar Harbor.

Residents in all those villages already are irritated by the often incessant drone of sightseeing planes that provide unique views of Acadia National Park. While glider rides are silent, the plane used to tow gliders to altitude has a powerful engine. While operators have tailored their routes to minimize disruption, they should be contacted directly about any perceived problems.

Many private pilots enjoy the facilities at the county airport in Trenton. Between commercially scheduled flights and the comings and goings of dozens of corporate and private jets at this time of year, the airport is one of the busiest in Maine. Also, there seems to be at least one LifeFlight helicopter ambulance flight into Bar Harbor every day in the summer.

Ultralight aircraft, including paragliders and other units, often with noisy motors, are not uncommon. And, from time to time, military aircraft practicing touch-and-go landings at Bangor include the island in their flight path.

Over the years, most folks have adjusted to the din from busy summer skies, much as motorists adapt to traffic congestion and parking problems. However, because seaplanes tend to be louder than their wheeled counterparts and operate more frequently at dusk or after dark when noise seems to carry farther, they seem to irritate an already sensitive nerve.

No federal regulations, govern the noise levels from planes.

Under present Federal Aviation Administration rules, most licensed aircraft (ultralights are exempted) must fly no lower than 500 feet over unpopulated land and at least 1,000 feet over built up areas, such as downtown Bar Harbor, Southwest Harbor or Ellsworth. Over water or undeveloped land where people are not present, planes can fly as low as safety dictates.

For residents who believe current rules are being violated, Brad Madeira, manager of the Hancock County-Bar Harbor Airport, has suggested that residents with questions about noise, related to that facility, are welcome to call him at 667-7329. For concerns about the proper operation of aircraft in general, residents may contact the Federal Aviation Administration Flight Standards District Office in Portland at 780-3263.

In recent months, there has been talk about developing a transportation plan for Acadia National Park. But that plan will deal only with motorized vehicles. Park officials may also want to consider public discussions concerning rules governing aircraft over the park and island communities.

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