Please stop flying below mandatory FAA regulations over Venice. Actually, stop flying over Venice period.
That was a comment posted on one of the pages of the blog. I don’t approve comments if they are from an anonymous account, I think that’s a bad policy for a web presence unless there’s some sort of physical danger to the poster revealing their identity (whistleblowers, people under oppressive regimes). I wrote to the email given (email addresses do not need capitalization) and it bounced back. So it’s someone spoofing an identity. They misspelled “principal,” which flatters all sorts of prejudices about the Los Angeles Unified School District (which does not actually seem to use the identified domain).
So, basically, we have a drive-by authored by a coward. That’s an excellent time for a civics lesson.
To get some of the technicalities out of the way:
I almost never fly over Venice. Almost all of my flights are straight out from runway two-one toward the beach with my maximum-power climb directly over the Penman Golf Course, apparently owned by the City of Los Angeles (although it is in the borders of Venice) and then a little wiggle and I am north of Dewey Street, the northern border of Venice. So I am flying over Santa Monica.
When I am flying over Venice it means that I am flying to the south (Long Beach, Irvine, San Diego) or returning from one of those trips. In those cases I am at 2,500 feet or 3,500 feet. The jets coming in to land at LAX are allowed to be as low as 2,700 feet (although they are usually kept at 4,000 feet). (A jet like a 737 at one mile away is 90 decibels (twice as loud as your vacuum cleaner), a lot louder than my two little diesel engines (similar to car engines) half a mile over your home.)
What about the FAA regulations? 91.119 of the Federal Aviation Regulations (FARs) dictates minimum safe altitudes (note that they are concerned for safety of the aircraft and other people, it’s not about noise). It says that I should always fly high enough to allow a safe emergency landing if I lose an engine (91.119a). Since I now have two engines I consider that to be five hundred feet or so above the ground. I can fly the pattern at Santa Monica on a single engine. Over a congested area (like Venice) I am meant to be a thousand feet above the highest obstacle (91.119b). The traffic pattern altitude at Santa Monica Airport is 1,400 feet, so I’m pretty sure that covers it. The airplanes can fly around and around the airport without violating the FAA regulations the hooligan is bringing up.
Although, and this is really the point, FAR 91.119 starts with the most important sentence:
Except when necessary for takeoff or landing, no person may operate an aircraft below the following altitudes:
Any time I am flying over Venice I am either taking off or landing, so the rules about altitude do not apply to my aircraft. I can fly ten feet above your roof if that is what I need to do to land the airplane safely at the airport.
But really what we have here is a “not in my backyard” resident. I have written letters to my representative before about the danger of these short-term thinkers.
There is no real answer to the NIMBY people. They would like the safety of a well-trained pilot population without having to contribute to the infrastructure necessary for that to happen. They would like Emergency Medical Services and a fire and rescue network but they don’t want any of it to happen near them, until it is needed near them.
What can you say to someone that wants the benefits of a society without wanting to contribute to it? I can’t think of anything. They are that sort of person. I hope they move out to the wilderness, which is a more appropriate environment for them, more congruent to their attitude.
Meanwhile, I hope more Santa Monica and Venice residents figure out that the efforts to close the airport are really the efforts of real estate developers to grab billions of dollars in profits, nothing more. Without the regulated airspace around the airport the high-rise development on Wilshire east of the 405 will eventually just march to the sea. If you think the City of Santa Monica will stop it, you haven’t been paying attention to local politics for very long. And if you are curious how closing the airport will affect the airplane noise you experience, you might want to drive down to the area just south of LAX some night around 8pm. Nothing will stop the controllers from routing airliners over the Santa Monica itself a thousand feet lower than they are now. Local noise ordinances are over-ruled by Federal Aviation Administration airspace rules, and you can discuss your amazement with the people in the New York metropolitan area who had no say in the reorganization of the Newark-JFK-LaGuardia airspace and approaches.
(For the record, I don’t like dog parks. Noisy, smelly, and offer me no benefit. I am not arguing they should be closed. And I think everyone should be driving an electric car, but I am not tracking down that original poster and ordering them to “stop driving your internal combustion automobile in Santa Monica!”)