Your lead article in the June 24 issue was outstanding (“Fuming Over Jet Noise). It brought to the front the continuing and potentially escalating problem of commercial jet noise over Laguna Beach.
A few years ago, I was a part of a group of concerned citizens who met with the administrative assistant to then U.S. Rep. Christopher Cox to express our concerns over increasing jet noise from commercial flights originating from John Wayne Airport that were passing over our city at low levels. The situation had become severely aggravated following the closure of the M.C.A.S. El Toro. We observed what we believed to be a clearly a change in flight paths from the past that now brought flights directly over Laguna Beach. Crystal Cove was in the initial stages of development and was not represented at that or subsequent meetings.
A meeting with the F.A.A. officials from Los Angeles at John Wayne Airport resulted. It was attended by Mr. Cox, the head of the F.A.A.’s Los Angeles office, airport officials including a control tower supervisor), a TRACON supervisor, our city manager (and perhaps Toni Iseman, I don’t recall for sure).
Our observations leading up to that meeting had led us to conclude that action was needed. During the active years of El Toro, commercial aviation was required to fly out to sea from John Wayne before turning back toward the coast to gain sufficient altitude in order to avoid priority air traffic from the marine base. That flight path was similar to what Bob Pastore describes (in the June 24 story) as STREL. The re-entry point over land was at about Crown Valley Parkway at 8 to 9,000 feet.
Naturally, the F.A.A. denied any change in flight paths. They were defensive and closed-minded over any changes in their operations, citing safety factors and the crowded skies over Southern California’s coast.
We did learn that when the John Wayne tower was “stressed” that they would often pass the flight off to TRACON nearly as soon as wheels were up. TRACON, located in Julian, would take over the flight and would okay a quick left turn taking the flight over Crystal Cove and Laguna etc. and on over to Thermal, Calif. You referred to this as “cutting the corner,” a practice that again seems to have become the norm rather than the exception.
If you were to ask around City Hall I am sure you can find more of the history, information, and the difficult relationships our city has encountered with the F.A.A. following the closure of El Toro.
This is an issue and a fight that is worth pursuing, and now with cries being heard for Newport’s Crystal Cove residents we have much more political clout. The addition of Terminal C at JWA is an assurance that the noise levels will not improve above our city.
Please continue to pursue this story. You are doing Laguna Beach residents and our neighbors a great favor.
Don Knapp, Laguna Beach