News

Surf Air planes still overhead, despite OK to fly Bay route

Foggy mornings mean planes still fly old route to San Carlos Airport

Joining Adam Ullman in his North Fair Oaks backyard for a weekday morning cup of coffee makes it clear just what he means when he calls the ongoing flight noise a "nuisance."

In less than 30 minutes, from 7 a.m. to 7:27 a.m. on Aug. 3, four aircraft fly overhead that flight tracking software used by San Francisco International Airport later showed were the PC-12 aircraft flown by SurfAir.

Three flights going toward the San Carlos Airport pass directly overhead, one at 838 feet above sea level, one at 939 feet and one at 1,241 feet. One flight taking off from the airport is higher, at 2,119 feet and also about 12 blocks away.

When the flights are overhead, conversation cannot be heard from one side of the backyard picnic table to the other.

On July 5, Surf Air received permission from the Federal Aviation Administration to fly a new approach to the San Carlos Airport that is mostly over the San Francisco Bay. But the airline can only fly the route under visual conditions, when the pilots can see the airport from Mountain View.

Mr. Ullman says that means that with the Peninsula's typical summer conditions of early morning fog, much of the time Surf Air is still flying the route it always has, directly over his backyard.

"I've become so attuned to that prop noise that I hear it far off," he says. "We are now acutely aware of every aircraft over our head."

In the summertime when people have their windows open, "that's when the impact is the greatest," he says. "We have this beautiful weather you want to be able to enjoy the outdoors."

Anything the county has tried so far has been voluntary and just isn't a long-term solution, he says. "The lawsuit really is to get a permanent solution in place."

"If we win on appeal," he adds, "it reinforces that they have to do something."

Since 2006, the Ullman family has lived in North Fair Oaks, an unincorporated area near Atherton, between El Camino Real and U.S. 101. Part of the reason the family likes the neighborhood, in addition to its convenient location, is that "it's quiet," he says. Or was until Surf Air began flying overhead in 2013.

Other planes do fly overhead, on their way to the San Francisco International Airport. But those planes don't have the same irritating effect that the Surf Air planes do, Mr. Ullman says. "It's that low rumble it's the bass. It resonates differently."

Plus, he says, research has shown the planes Surf Air flies are actually noisier than many jets. "The PC-12 is louder than a 757," he says.

--

Related stories:

• Taking county to court over aircraft noise.

• Airport noise: Mass filings of of small claims lawsuits have won concessions in the past.

• Atherton meeting set on San Carlos Airport noise issues.

Comments

11 people like this
Posted by Laurel
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Aug 9, 2016 at 11:22 am

The last Surf Air related meeting I attended had two notable representatives of the airline present: one woman crying about her husband not being able to make dinner in time if the flight is rerouted, and another lawyer basically threatening local residents that he was involved in making some law in SoCal regarding airplane noise that did not benefit them. Meanwhile, a handful of venture backers lingered by the rear exit to watch their CEO manage the free publicity.

These guys have no interest in moving anything -- it affects their bottom line to fly circuitously and to adjust their props to be less noisy. While paying lip service to the locals, they continue to nibble at what could be conceived as a reasonable time -- now it's 704 AM that you can hear that roar. Pretty soon it will be 654, then 647, then 632, and then we will roll right through 6AM because that's when people really want to "commute" and miss the traffic. Bunch of slippery jerks.

Anyway, I could go on forever about these people, ruining my mornings and nights, waking up my kids EVERY SINGLE MORNING. I have two suggestions, since I can't attend the meeting. How about playing, over a speaker during the meeting, something that is at an equivalent decibel level as this s**tbird Pilatus, and see how much can be discussed. Suggestion two: find the addresses of the venture backers in this company and fly the planes over their houses for several months and see how they like it. I guarantee a West Atherton noise like this would go away right quick.

In the meantime, let's continue to give SURF AIR free publicity with all these meetings. I don't like this noise at all, but given what happened in Santa Monica, I don't have much hope.


2 people like this
Posted by Surf Air
a resident of Menlo Park: Fair Oaks
on Aug 9, 2016 at 1:04 pm

I read somewhere they ordered 50 more planes. There is another meeting at Holbrook Palmer at 6 p.m. Aug. 16th, suggest everyone be there, My fear is we are being placated disengenously with this new route.


Like this comment
Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Aug 9, 2016 at 2:04 pm

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

"How about playing, over a speaker during the meeting, something that is at an equivalent decibel level as this s**tbird Pilatus, and see how much can be discussed."

I think that's a great idea, however to make it real, only play it for the 20 seconds or so that the typical Surfair plane is typically over your house. Then wait the appropriate interval (20 minutes, 30 minutes an hour?) to play it again.

That would be a true approximation to what you're actually being exposed to.


11 people like this
Posted by Amy
a resident of Menlo Park: Fair Oaks
on Aug 9, 2016 at 4:41 pm

Dear Menlo Voter,

I will simply quote from the above article:

"In less than 30 minutes, from 7 a.m. to 7:27 a.m. on Aug. 3, four aircraft fly overhead that flight tracking software used by San Francisco International Airport later showed were the PC-12 aircraft flown by SurfAir.
Three flights going toward the San Carlos Airport pass directly overhead, one at 838 feet above sea level, one at 939 feet and one at 1,241 feet. One flight taking off from the airport is higher, at 2,119 feet and also about 12 blocks away.

When the flights are overhead, conversation cannot be heard from one side of the backyard picnic table to the other."

This is not a neighbors claim, this is what happened when an Almanac journalist visited our neighborhood.


4 people like this
Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Aug 9, 2016 at 5:07 pm

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

Amy:

so, four flights in 27 minutes. Noise from each flight lasting about 20 seconds. A whole 80 seconds of disruptions. Oh my god! Stop the presses! I was disturbed for an entire minute and a half out of 27 minutes! Seriously? I get more frequent disruption to my day, every day, than that.


Like this comment
Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Aug 9, 2016 at 6:05 pm

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

Also, in my experience there are far fewer Surfair overflights at my home where they were frequent before. The only exception I've seen to Surfair not using the alternate flight path is when there is a ceiling low enough to require an IFR approach.


Like this comment
Posted by Matt
a resident of Woodside: Mountain Home Road
on Aug 9, 2016 at 8:56 pm

Now it's SurfAir's fault that there are foggy mornings! Never mind that they worked with the FAA to devise new routes, and that they clearly communicated that the routes wouldn't be available every flight. We'll just conveniently skip that part and embed a "reporter" to observe the oppressive 20 seconds when a plane flies over.

Proving, once again, that this is not really about noise at all... and that the Almanac is patently biased.


7 people like this
Posted by Adam Ullman
a resident of Menlo Park: Fair Oaks
on Aug 9, 2016 at 9:12 pm

Menlo Voter, regarding your comment to Amy about 80 seconds and 1.5 min out of 27. How would you feel if someone came banging on your front door for 20 seconds, ran away, and did this 4-10 an hour (during certain hours)? How would you feel next when you learned this was a business making a profit by doing this?

Because it doesn't bother you, and we have discussed before that it clearly doesn't since you are a pilot, that doesn't give you the right to bully others for expressing their opinions stating it does bother them.

Adam


6 people like this
Posted by Laurel
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Aug 10, 2016 at 6:43 am

To Menlo Voter:

It only takes 20 seconds to WAKE UP THE WHOLE NEIGHBORHOOD. DUH!!! Like it did just now at 640AM


Like this comment
Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Aug 10, 2016 at 7:24 am

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

Laurel:

The train coming through at 5 AM wakes me up. So what? I'm surprised it doesn't wake you up.


Like this comment
Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Aug 10, 2016 at 7:25 am

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

Adam:

apples and oranges.


2 people like this
Posted by Belmont voter
a resident of another community
on Aug 11, 2016 at 7:20 am

It is a long well known fact that prolonged noise exposure has negative health impacts. I wonder if there might be additional ways to sue the county and state over stress related medical bills.
As most government entities lawsuits are the only way to move them. The hearings and all the other activities are just designed to appease the populace in order to deter them from filing suits. You want government to do something you must file a suit.

There is absolutely no reason why San Carlos airport does not have to comply with noise ordinances typical in Europe. And yes you can make quiet planes, they just cost more.


Like this comment
Posted by Member
a resident of another community
on Aug 17, 2016 at 10:35 am

No sympathy for anyone complaining about the aircraft noise: The airport was there when you bought your house. The field opened during WWI and has been in continuous operation since then; the field is nearing its 100th anniversary. You were on constructive notice that it existed and that there was and could be aircraft noise. If you don't like it move.


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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