Practicing stunt planes perturb some Marion County residents



MARION COUNTY, Fla. - Some Marion County residents say they're being harassed by pilots.

Some people living near the Dunnellon-Marion County Airport don't like that planes are allowed to perform stunts there. And some think their complaints may have only made things worse.

In rural Marion County near Dunnellon peace and quiet are highly prized.

"Love it. Love it. It is so nice when they don't fly," said homeowner Valerie Wienke.

But when they do, residents said it is noisy.

Pilots are allowed to practice stunt maneuvers over the airport.

Wienke said the noise drivers her up the wall.

"It's the constant 20 or 30 minutes of vroom, vroom, vroom," said Wienke.

She said that some days the noise goes on for hours.

She said complaints to airport management have gotten nowhere.

"Marion County doesn't have authority over what goes on over the airport," said airport manager John Helms.

Helms said that is in the hands of the Federal Aviation Authority, which approved what is called an aerobatic box overhead.

The FAA does have some strict rules. Pilots must perform the maneuvers, or stunts, within a one-mile radius of the center of airport. The airport covers 800 acres.

Pilots can fly no higher than 4,000 feet above the ground, and come no closer than 1,500 feet to the ground.

Helms said there has never been an accident at the airport.

But Wienke's primary problem is with the noise. She said she's not opposed to the airport.

Wienke said her father was a pilot and she's been to air shows.

"I, in fact, love airplanes. But I can't tolerate (these) aerobatics," said Wienke.

Marion County Commission chairman Kathy Bryant has agreed to look into the matter for the airport's neighbors.