Opinion

Once again I have been taken to task by Mr. Stanley L. Ronell for expressing my opinions that are contrary to his own. This time he characterized my previous letter as "absurd," though I hardly think he proved his case. As usual, his letter is filled with exaggerations, incorrect facts and personal attack. To begin with Mr. Ronell, I was not "trumpeting (my) pedigree academic accomplishments," as you put it. I was simply trying to demonstrate that I do have some engineering background and experience in aviation and speak with more than average knowledge about aerodynamics. I think I'll pass on your suggestion that I "take a remedial physics course;" I did quite well the first time around. If you want to talk about the ripple effects of sound waves, why don't you quote someone with real expertise who is of the opinion that an occasional passing helicopter can have a negative effect? I'll tell you why you don't, and won't, the fact is that a passing helicopter is not detrimental to people on the ground.

Mr. Ronell then states that my opinion that helicopters are among the safest of all aircraft is absurd, but yet again, he backs that up with, well, nothing. He tells me that I should explain this to the families of the four men who died in that terrible accident in Phoenix, when two helicopters collided and crashed. Again, he explains nothing, so I will. Those news helicopters were actively following a police chase happening on the ground. The pilots were so concentrating on the car chase, they neglected to watch the airspace around them and collided. A terrible accident, but hardly something that would be prevented by the restrictions Mr. Ronell seeks for Port Washington. Those four men died because of an unusual situation and pilot error, not any intrinsic danger of helicopters. The incident just isn't germane to the current debate. He mentions several other helicopter mishaps, including the helicopter that went down in the Kings Park High School's soccer field. I am glad he mentioned that incident, as it supports my position, not his. He described the incident as a "crash," not quite accurate. What happened was the pilot detected a mechanical problem with his aircraft and decided to make an emergency landing. He picked the open space of the soccer field as a safe location to land. As he landed, he misjudged the space and clipped a fence with the tail rotor, making the helicopter roll over as it landed. The two men aboard walked away. If the same thing had happened to a fixed wing aircraft, the result might have been much worse, seeing that an airplane cannot find such a landing place so readily. He mentions other helicopter incidents without providing any details. This is hardly surprising, as we have come to know that Mr. Ronell rarely lets facts get in the way of his opinions. It is interesting to note, however, that in each of the incidents he mentions, the helicopters did not crash into any buildings or people on the ground, because, as I have said before, helicopter pilots in an emergency can pick their landing sites better than airplane pilots.

Since this "helicopter menace" has been publicized, I have been asking everyone I know in Port about their opinions on the matter. The usual response is, "What helicopters?" I really don't think the noise of helicopters flying overhead is a problem for most residents. The people I have spoken to laugh at the idea of their windows rattling when a chopper flies overhead. I have said it before and I stand by my opinion, there simply is no helicopter menace in Port Washington.

One more thing I'd like to address. How dare you, Mr. Ronell, to pretend to know anything about my "political leanings," as you put it? I don't recall ever writing a letter to this paper expressing my political views. While it is true that I have written to rebut your baseless attacks on Congressman Gary Ackerman, my concerns were about truth and honesty, not politics. Had you ever attacked a Republican with the same disregard for the truth and facts, I would have rebutted just as strongly. I might mention that each time I write to this paper, rebutting yours and others' biased letters, I receive phone calls and letters from other Port residents thanking me for doing so. It would seem that I am not alone in my distaste for one-sided debate.

In closing, I'd like to pass on a bit of wisdom imparted to me by a very wise woman many years ago. She said, when you find yourself in the position of having to exaggerate or lie to support your position, it is time to re-evaluate your opinion.

Roy Coniglio


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