“It’s driving me crazy,” Woodside resident Phyllis Pastuzyn said.
R.J. Huegal’s and Pastuzyn’s separate homes on 56th Avenue between Queens Boulevard and Roosevelt Avenue are not far from the noisy 7 train, but Pastuzyn said that noise they can deal with. However, the airplanes that fly above them from 6 a.m. to 2 a.m. the next day at a rate of about every 40 seconds to 2 minutes is too much, they say.
“The past three weeks its been every 30 seconds. It’s getting to be really crazy,” said Huegal, who is an artist working from home.
For the last couple of years they’ve been losing sleep, at-home work hours and their cable and Internet connections go in and out. Sometimes the airplanes fly so low that Pastuzyn can smell the jet fuel, she said.
“‘I’m sleep deprived,” she said. “The WiFi goes on the fritz and the TV flashes no signal every time a plane goes over.”
A couple of months ago Huegal called the Port Authority about the loud planes. A few hours later two officers appeared outside his door. He said they asked if he has ever been incarcerated and told him to stop calling the Port Authority.
The PA has no record of this visit, spokesman Chris Valens said. However, he added that officers visited Pastuzyn’s house last year when she allegedly threatened airplane safety.
“Ms. Pastuzyn had been calling hundreds of times a day and started to threaten safety. She said she would fly balloons into airspace,” Valens said. “We sent officers then.”
Huegal and Pastuzyn are the most vocal about the issue and frequently call the PA and several area politicians. However, others on the block and residents in other neighborhoods notice the noise too.
A teacher from PS 111, down the street on Roosevelt Avenue, who wished to remain anonymous, said she has to stop class every minute because she can’t speak over the plane noise.
“The noise is so loud, my father who is half deaf is getting annoyed,” the teacher said.
Bill Powers, a three-generation resident of Middle Village and the co-founder of Middle Village Clean and Quiet Skies, said if anything would make him move it would be the constant airplane noise.
“We are asking for something quite simple — that the burden should be shared,” Powers said.
Airplanes fly low over his home constantly on a direct visual approach to LaGuardia Airport.
“I think it’s a class issue. They aren’t going over the nice areas in Manhattan or Forest Hills,” Powers said, adding “it’s affecting property values.”
Residents in Briarwood have also noticed the barrage of low-flying planes.
“I have been disturbed in my sleep for the last three months, since I sleep from 4 a.m. to 10 a.m. due to my later night work,” Joseph Manago said. “A friend of mine ... also has noticed electromagnetic interference in101.1 FM radio programtransmission in the afternoons and evenings.”
About four years ago New York airports redesigned their airspace, said Jeffrey Starin, a private airplane pilot and the president of Park Slope Quiet Skies, a Brooklyn-based community group that is tracking the increased plane noise. Planes approaching LaGuardia and Kennedy airports cause the annoyance for Queens residents.
“The information is as pertinent to Queens as it is to Park Slope,” Starin said.
The redesign allows more planes to fly into the airports at the same time, by pushing some planes to a higher altitude and pushing others lower. The latter cause the noise for those living below.
Along with increased traffic, advanced GPS systems have enabled planes to fly a more direct path into the airports. Therefore there are more planes flying the same path instead of spread out horizontally.
“Prior to the implementation of these new GPS-based approach routes, aircraft flew a less precise ground-track towards the runway’s threshold, thereby distributing the noise over a greater geographical area,” Starin said. “Now less people experience more noise, noise that is well beyond the threshold considered safe for humans.”
Last December, Congressman Joe Crowley (D-Queens, Bronx) announced that Delta Airlines got the green light from the U.S. Department of Transportation to begin a $117 million construction project at LaGuardia. As part of the agreement, the airline said it would begin phasing out some of its smaller, noisier jets for fewer, but bigger and quieter ones.
“The Port Authority monitors noise complaints in cooperation with the FAA at its airports to determine if weather conditions, and changing runway-use patterns are impacting local communities,” Port Authority spokesman Ron Marsico said. “Modifications, however, in flight paths and the runways used for landings and takeoffs are limited because of various factors, including visibility, seasonal weather conditions and wind direction.”
However, residents affected by the noise say they haven’t seen a decrease and can’t take much more.