Airport advocates that pilots ‘fly friendly’

Voluntary noise abatement program considers residential areas beneath approaches.

Airport commissioners hear an update from the wastewater department.

Updated 1/12

The Martha’s Vineyard Airport is encouraging pilots and Island residents to be aware of and involved in the process of noise abatement for approaching aircraft.

Based on occasional complaints filed with the airport by people concerned about noise issues caused by low-flying planes, assistant airport director Geoff Freeman said the airport has adopted a voluntary noise abatement program deemed “fly friendly.”

Freeman noted that airports are not allowed to dictate flight patterns; that process is determined by the Federal Aviation Administration.

“It’s a program that most airports adopt. It’s not a formalized program, but an initiative of educating both neighbors and pilots in our community that fly these types of approaches, along with air traffic controllers,” Freeman said. “We want to make sure everyone on the Island is happy and safe.”

Freeman said there is no reason for the FAA to get involved in setting official flight-pattern restrictions, but recommended a conscious effort on all parts to be considerate of noise created by flying aircraft.

Leaflets and card handouts created by Freeman are available in the lobby of the terminal building at the airport, and are being handed out to private pilots and those from major airlines. 

“We are hoping to get people educated about this issue, and just hoping to make some steady progress,” Freeman said. “I’ve been developing some educational leaflets, and a newsletter that has been sent out to general aviation pilots and airlines.”

According to Freeman, the program suggests that pilots “be aware of the areas they are flying over, and be conscious of densely populated residential areas, and flying overnight and early in the morning.”

“We want to encourage people to extend their downwind approach and intercept the two miles final for runway 6, and we know that is going out of a normal traffic pattern,” Freeman said. “That brings you out over the pond, and doesn’t allow you to do a base over the residential areas.”

In aeronautics, a base is the leg of travel an airplane takes after the downwind approach and before the final approach, when the craft is lined up with the runway and about to land.

A passion for aeronautics

An Island woman who is going into the aeronautics and aviation program at Cape Cod Community College will have the support of the Airport Commission in her academic and career endeavors.

Kelly Cleary, a recent graduate of the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School, will take off to Plymouth Airport, where she will begin her education.

Commissioner Kristin Zern said she introduced Cleary to the folks at MVYouth, and they immediately fell in love with her and her passion for learning about the field of aeronautics.


“We started a personal campaign that brought a couple thousand dollars into the fund,” Zern said.

MVYouth is the main contributor to the scholarship fund.

She also said the Personal Endowment for Martha’s Vineyard has found another beneficial fund called the Inspiration Fund, which is willing to match the airport’s contributions to a scholarship for Vineyard students interested in aeronautics or related fields.

“I think we will have her fully covered,” Zern said, suggesting that Cleary’s entire college education should be paid for by the scholarship.

She said she would like the commissioners to introduce themselves to her, and maybe even take her out to lunch and get to know her a little better.

“She is an outstanding Island girl, and there are very few women in the field of aeronautics or engineering — you are not going to find students this outstanding all the time,” Zern said.