SW Aviator Magazine - April/May 1999 issue
The Santa Fe Hum
by Kevin McKown and Greg Gibson
Train tracks run through the back yard. The college kids who live next door litter their yard with beer cans nightly. A major highway is visible from the kitchen window. There’s an airport nearby.

If a house you’ve considered buying meets one of those conditions, you either accept the fact that you’re not going to get 10 silent hours of sleep every night, choose a house in another location, or invent a bed with active noise reduction. It’s just common sense.

But apparently, common sense arguments don’t hold much water in the City Different—where the Santa Fe Airport has come under fire. As New Mexico’s capital continues to expand, residential development in the airport’s vicinity has led to complaints that too much noise is being generated.

On the evening of Wednesday, March 31, a meeting will be held in Santa Fe’s City Council chambers to consider proposed legislation regarding the above complaints. Council members plan to discuss a noise ordinance which fines violators up to $500.

The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association—which has over 2500 members in New Mexico—has challenged the proposal. Bill Dunn, AOPA’s vice president of regional affairs, insists that any ordinance passed needs to be “fair, reasonable, and nondiscriminatory. Santa Fe’s proposal is not.”

The ordinance requires pilots to reduce climb power upon takeoff, keep rpm settings down in the pattern, avoid intersection departures, and minimize flying over residential areas. Flight instructors would be completely prohibited from flying over outlying communities and would have to confine “touch and go activity to the hours between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.”

First violations carry a fine of $100, second time offenders must pay $200, and each additional violation within a five year period will cost $500.

AOPA counsel Kathleen Yodice said the ordinance in question constitutes a violation of federal law. She claims that the City of Santa Fe is attempting to legislate “local control over (airspace) that is in the exclusive province of the federal government.”

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