A group of Fairhope residents have started a petition and Facebook group about continuing noise from the Fairhope airport.
“The residents of Fairhope that live within the flight zone and beyond the H L Sonny Callahan Airport are very concerned about neighborhood safety, and insist that the FAA require pilots using the Airport to follow the federal regulations with regard to required minimum altitude,” the petition states. “For safety reasons, the law states that all aircraft must stay at least 1,000 ft. above residential neighborhoods except when necessary for takeoff and landing.”
As of Monday morning, the petition had 119 supporters and the group’s Facebook page, Fairhope Citizens Against Airport Noise, had 95 members.
The Facebook page has several videos posted that show planes flying near the airport that purport to show low flying aircraft, though several comments on the video question if the planes are landing or if the video has been zoomed in to make the aircraft appear closer than they actually are.
Military aircraft noise and mayoral response
The question of airport noise has continued to divide the city for the last few months, after Fairhope Mayor Karin Wilson sent a to the commanding officer at NAS Whiting field about noise at the airport coming from military aircraft.
In the letter dated June 15, Wilson informs Captain Todd Bahlau of numerous complaints from residents nearby to the airport
“I wanted to write and formal request a public meeting between the Navy and the Fairhope citizens that are impacted by the military aircrafts (sic) in our community,” Wilson wrote. “I have received an excessive amount of complaints from area residents. The items of concern are aircrafts (sic) flying too low, continuous touch and go training, time of aircraft activity (as late as midnight) and overall frequency of aircrafts (sic) since last spring.”
Wilson wrote the aircraft were impacting people’s decisions to to live in the city.
“The military aircrafts (sic) are driving residents out of Fairhope due to the constant noise, it is seriously impacting the quality of life and will potentially impact the real estate values,” Wilson wrote. “Please let me know how we can support our military, while working to combat this problem, so Fairhope can continue to be the premier community that we love.”
City Council response
Shortly after Wilson’s letter to the Navy was published, Council President Jack Burrell was sent a letter by a Fairhope resident who is a retired Naval commander and was concerned that the city would not maintain a close relationship with the Navy.
“I want to encourage you in your effort to keep a good relationship with the Navy,” the resident wrote. “One of my joys living here is that the Navy chooses to practice in this area, and to me the sound of those trainers is the sound of freedom!”
Burrell wrote in reply on behalf of the council that he and the rest of the council continued to support the military and its exercises near the city.
His response was as follows:
“Unfortunately, the City Council was not informed of the recent letter sent by the Mayor’s office to the Navy, much less given an opportunity to critique it.
“It is true that we have received several complaints. We hear the planes as well, but they do not bother us at all.
“We should all be reminded that some of those men and women flying above us today will be putting their lives on the line for us. Our nation seems to be in a perpetual state of war, or policing operations, so there is no doubt many of these young men and women will be subjected to instances where our enemies will want to harm them.
“Just the act of training for their roles as military aviators induces a great deal of risk to those that serve.
“Please tell your friends in the Navy, past and present, or any other branch of the service for that matter, that the people of Fairhope love them, pray for them every day, and support them 100%.
“I am certain that even those few that have complained support our troops. We also understand that the freedoms we enjoy in Fairhope, as well as, throughout this nation provide the very highest of values to our homes and lands, and that the quality of life we enjoy as Americans, which is second to none in the history of the world, is due to the sacrifices made by those who have served, those who continue to serve, and those who have made the ultimate sacrifice.”