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Letter: Response to Stanley Ronell’s Letter About Helicopters

(Editors note: Mr. Stanley Ronell did not name Roy Coniglio specifically in his letter. His direct quote was: “As a ‘pioneer’ who brought this issue into the open several years ago, I was mocked by a resident of Port, who shall remain nameless, but reading this, he’ll know who I am referring to, who professed to be an ‘aviation expert’”).

Having returned from a vacation this past Monday, I was catching up with the Port News and saw the most recent letter to the editor from one Mr. Stanley Ronell. His letter was yet another nonsensical diatribe about the danger of helicopters flying over Port. I would have chuckled and moved on, but since he chose to attack me personally in his letter, I felt compelled to respond once again.

Mr. Ronell derisively referred to me as an “aviation expert” (his quotes) in his letter. I never claimed to be an aviation expert, but I do have experience in the field. I am a professional industrial designer and have been involved in the radio controlled model aircraft hobby for over 45 years. I have studied aerodynamics and have designed, built and flown my own aircraft for over three decades. I doubt Mr. Ronell can stand before a class of students and explain how a 500,000 pound aircraft can fly. I can, and have several times as an invited guest.

When the issue of noise created by aircraft flying over Port became public several years ago, Mr. Ronell and several others made grossly exaggerated claims that helicopters were rattling their windows and interfering with their lives. Since then, helicopters have changed their flight paths and the noise has been reduced considerably. Not being satisfied with that, Mr. Ronell changed his argument to a safety issue. Nonsense. He made vague reference to documented helicopter crashes on Long Island several years ago, again an exaggeration. There was one emergency landing of a helicopter a few years ago, in the sports field at Kings Park High School. At no time were students in danger. I have heard people ask what would have happened if students were on the field. I’ll tell you what would have happened. The pilot would have chosen someplace else to make his emergency landing. Helicopters can use a maneuver called autorotation when they have engine problems, which allows the rotor to free wheel, providing considerable lift, giving the pilot time and maneuverability to choose a landing spot. Is there any danger of an aircraft crashing? Or course, but to play on peoples’ unfounded fear just to win an argument is unfair.

Mr. Ronell, you live on the outskirts of the largest metropolis in the center of the biggest megalopolis on the planet. It is ridiculous that you expect to never hear an aircraft overhead. If you need absolute silence to be happy, I suggest you look into moving to Montana.

Roy Coniglio