Employing language much favored by political figures, Senator Chuck Schumer has announced that the bill recently passed by the Senate funding the Federal Aviation Administration represents a “major breakthrough” in the effort to control the noise made by helicopters crossing the North Fork on the way to and from East Hampton and Southampton. The senator added an amendment ordering the FAA to come up with rules that address the noise problem within 12 months. The extremely noisy aircraft now cross over the North Fork wherever a pilot sees fit. A designated flight path that keeps the copters out over the Sound until they reach Plum Gut is voluntarily and hardly, if ever, used.
A major breakthrough? Not quite, since the House of Representatives has yet to take up that authorization bill. How the measure might fare there is anyone’s guess, but there’s reason for concern given the new GOP majority’s strong pro-business tilt. Within the past week the North Fork suffered a significant setback in the House when that chamber agreed to maintain funding for a new animal disease research center in Kansas — in the heart of cattle country, of all places — to replace the Plum Island lab.
Then there’s the East Hampton town councilman’s admission that a number of his constituents have attorneys lined up to fight any flight path switch that would put the helicopters over their homes.
Something tells us we’re in for a long, bumpy flight.