Low flying aircraft over the city of Ventura

Editorial

 

 

online times; font-size: 16px;”>By Verne Arnold

sildenafil times; font-size: 16px;”>I live in Ventura and after weeks of hearing the incessant noise and nuisance, I decided to research the internet.

The emphasis of my research was low flying aircraft.  I wanted to find out if there were specific FAA regulations addressing low flying aircraft over congested low_flying_aircraftareas of a city, town, or settlement.   According to FAA regulation (FARS, 14 CFR); Section 19.119, Minimum Safe Altitudes; “… no person may operate an aircraft below the following altitudes:” Paragraph (b) reads,  “Over congested areas.  Over any congested area of a city, town, or settlement, or over any open air assembly of persons, an altitude of 1,000 feet above the highest obstacle within a horizontal radius of 2,000 feet of the aircraft.”    I thought this would be the answer to resolve the problem.  Was I ever mistaken.   According to another regulation, Section 16.21, Pre-Complaint resolution; “…a person directly and substantially affected by the noncompliance shall initiate and engage in good faith efforts to resolve the disputed matter informally with those individuals or entities believed responsible for the noncompliance.” Thus was the beginning of several months of a nightmare odyssey of letter writing to the City Of Ventura, the Ventura City Council, and the Santa Paula Airport Association.  All this before my complaint could be officially registered with the FAA, Flights Standards District Office in Van Nuys.

On March 10, 2009, the first of my pre-complaint resolution letters was written and addressed to Mr. Rick Cole, then Ventura City Manager, with copies to:  Mayor Christy Weir and members of the Ventura City council.  In it I summarized the issue of an increasing number of single engine aircraft flying at levels under 1,000 feet over my neighborhood and the surrounding residential areas.  In addition I added that over a two month period from February 8 to March 12, 2009,  I tracked a total of thirty-seven apparent altitude violations of single engine aircraft coming directly from the direction of Santa Paula Airport.   I then received a letter dated March 19, 2009, from Mr. Cole stating, “Although this has been a cause of concern for you, unfortunately, it is not in our jurisdiction or purview.”

As a result of this response, on March 25, 2009, I wrote to Ms. Rowena Mason, Airport Manager, Santa Paula Airport Association, Ltd.  In that letter I emphasized a spirit of cooperation  that she take steps to instruct pilots flying into and out of Santa Paula Airport in compliance with the FAA safe altitude requirements.    On April 10, 2009, I received the following response:

“Your complaints regarding low flying aircraft in the Ventura area are outside oursphere of influence.”  She went on to write,  “All pilots flying in the United faaStates  are required to comply will all applicable Federal Aviation Administration regulations.  Those regulations are enforced by the Federal Aviation Administration, not local airports.” 

Then on April 14, 2009, I responded in writing informing Ms. Mason that since her response did not include the resolution I originally requested I was proceeding with a formal complaint with the FAA Van Nuys, Flight Standards District Office-01 (FSDA-01).  I also wrote that I would include the name of the Santa Paula Airport Association.

So by following Pre-Complaint Resolution guidelines as published by the FAA, the answers I received were more or less reduced to succinct responses;  “not in our jurisdiction” and “outside our sphere of influence”.

On the eve of writing my formal letter of complaint to the Flight Services District Office in Van Nuys, I went through a dress rehearsal consisting of:  1)  Background Information, 2)  Factual Information, 3)  Supporting Documentation, and 4)  reasonable Expectations and Desirable Outcomes.    On May 22, 2009, I completed writing my letter to the FAA.  Then on June 2, 2009, Mr. Victor Hobbs, Aviation Safety Inspector, telephoned me regarding my letter.  After a few minutes in conversation he stated to me that he would be visiting Santa Paula Airport and would contact me with the results of his visit.   At this point I had fully expected his contact would be via telephone but that would not be the case.  Instead he sent a written response on June 11, 2009, stating.  “We have found insufficient evidence to proceed with enforcement action, and we consider this matter closed.”  His letter went on to say, “Our recommendation is to obtain specific aircraft identification and/or operator data so that we can investigate these issues with the possibility of enforcement”.

I telephoned Mr. Hobbs; and asked him what location did he visit and what did he observe.  Hobbs stated, “Why I went to the airport and observed aircraft taking off and landing.”   Another unbelievable response, especially since the main thrust of the problems are over residential areas in the city of Ventura. 

I reached out once again via telephone to Mr. Hobb’s;  inviting him to even visit my residence and have a cup of coffee with me as we sit on my patio watching  aircraft fly over.  Naturally he refused but he suggested, “take photographs of low flying aircraft tail numbers and maybe that would aid in assisting a further investigation.” Have you ever tried to capture the tail number of a low flying aircraft in speeds exceeding 100+ mph.

Weeks passed as I tried to work through the utter disbelieve in this whole process.  Then on September 16, 2009, dear Mr. Hobb’s  wrote his final letter to me, stating, “We have found insufficient evidence to proceed with enforcement action.”

Five years later and low flying aircraft with throttles wide open still course the skies over the seaside city of Ventura.   A graphic picture of what the FAA calls insufficient evidence.   When will you have had enough and write a letter?

Verne Arnold is a resident of Ventura

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