"The horses panic and race like crazy across the field when the Concorde comes over. The ground quivers like an earthquake. . . even my insides shake," says Natalina Rinebart, who raises 12 dogs, five horses and four children at one end of the main Dulles International Airport runway.
"Actually we've gotten used to most of the planes and I guess even the Concorde twice a day. But oh, God, if they increase the number of Concordes I don't know what we'll do. . . It's a beautiful plane. But I'd lose my mind."
How many more Concordes will becoming to Dulles each day is still uncertain. Under the Carter administration proposal announced last Friday, the Concordes will be table to fly to Dulles and at least a dozen other U.S. airports as often as they want. But they will have the same night restrictions that have been in effect here during the Concorde's 16-month Dulles trial period-no take-offs or landing between 10p.m. and 7a.m.
Currently there can be only 13 Concorde flights a week to Dulles, roughly two flights in and two out a day. The proposed rules, which would not go into effect for at least four months until public hearings are held, would allow a larger number of daily flights to Dulles.
The Concordes, according to government studies, are aproximately four times as loud on takeoff as the newest commercial jets and about twice as loud as 707s, the noisiest and oldest of existing subsonic jets.
The proposal to grant permanent U.S. landing rights to the Concorde comes just as a two-year consultants' study of Dulles's future is ending. The study recommends recommends revisions in the Dulles master plan for long-range development that would significantly expand the 10,000-acre airport and its terminal. Last spring the sonsultants proposed the purchase of an additional 1,000 acres, primarily west and south of the ariport, in case additional runways are needed in the future.
Federal Aviation Administration officials said last week another 1,000-2,000 acres also might be bought, or easements placed on the land, to provide noise buffer zones at the end of both existing and possible future runways. This and other recently revised proposals will be aired at a public meeting to be held by the FAA Oct. 18, at the Dulles Marriott Hotel at7.30p.m. It will be the fourth such meeting in the past 18 months.
Under the proposed land expansion, the Rineharts would be forced to move, as would perhaps another 25-50 families. The exact number is unkown since the airport's proposed future boundaries have not yet been set. It would remove the people closest to Dulles, many of whose farms and houses are within a mile and some within a half mile of the runways, but it would not affect those who do the most complaining about airplane noise from Dulles.
Some of the Concorde's most out-spoken opponents are Poolesville, Md. . residents who live at least 7-10 miles from Dulles but are in the flight path of the slow-climbing supersonic transports. Apparently they are not as accustomed to airplane noise as the thousands of residents around National Airport and Dulle's close-in neighbors, who live closer to the airports and are exposed to high levels of airplane noise almost all the time.
While few Dulles-area residents complained about airplane noise before the coming of the Concorde, "maybe two dozen complaints a year" according to an FAA spokesman, there has been an average of three to four complaints a day since its arrival. General public concern over airplane noise apparently has increased since not all the recent Dulles complaints are about the Concorde.
Concern over noise complaints is one of the main purposes of buying additional land around Dulles, says James Wilding, the FAA's deputy director of metropolitan Washington airports. . . "we just don't want it to bite us in the future."
However, instead of buying out-right much of the still-vacant land around Dulles, the FAA is considering some form of easement which would keep the land in private ownership and on the tax rolls of Fairfax and Loudoun Counties, which Dulles straddles. "This is what the counties are concerned about," Wilding said.
While there are fast-growing towns like Herndon, Reston and Sterling Park near Dulles, whose residents occasionally call the Dulles noise-complaint center, there are no subdivisions directly off the end of the runways. But not for want of trying. The Rineharts' seven acres is in the center of what most local maps still show as "Fairwood Estates," with a dozen streets that still attract door-to-door salesmen almost daily although neither the streets nor the hundreds of planned houses were ever built.
"They come down this gravel road every day looking for the houses," says Mrs. Rinehart, whose husband is a restaurant manager. "A woman from the March of Dimes was in here yesterday with a map asking for streets I'd never heard of. I told her they didn't exist but she said theyhad to, they were on the map."
Fairwood Estates never got off the ground because the soil is too solid for septic tanks to drain and it couldn't be connected to a sewage system, according to Mrs. Rinehart and local real estate broker Bill Bryant.
"That soil won't percolate, so no matter what the maps say there's nothing in there. . . in fact there's thousands of acres empty and waiting for development around Dulles," said Bryant, whose For-Sale signs dot most roads surrounding the airport. "The reason Dulles is under-utilized is no one's pushing promotion of the airport, neither the federal nor local governments. They're all pushing the growth of National Airport."
Perhaps the closest community directly under Dulles flight paths is the "Friendly Village of Dulles," 500-mobile homes on Route 50 where the streets are named after airlines (BOAC Circle, Pan Am Avenue, Swiss Air Place) and many of the residents are airport employees.
"Not that many oppose the Concorde" or are bothered by the noise said Friendly Village manager Paula Douglas. "But that's because Dulles is their bread and butter," said retired U.S. Customs official Willard Struder who has lived in his mobile home there since 1972 and the planes, especially the Concorde, "darned annoying. . . but we've learned to live with it."
At the north end of Dulles's two north-south runways residents have become almost equally numb and accustomed to the noise.
"I've been here since 1955, before they started the airport, but the noise don't bother me too much. Hardly pay much attention to it," says Austin Allen, a custodian in the Fairfax County school system.
"You can almost set your clock by the Concorde, because you can't mistake the sound," says Gary Hall, estimator for Superior Iron Works, one of several small industrial plants just north of the airport. "It doesn't really bother us. . . We have about 30 employees and are just interested in looking at it. But I'd hate to live here. It hurts your ears."
"You know what really bothers us are the President's planes, which come out here seems like every day and practice. I'm sure to God they don't need that much practice," says Nevin Neff who lives on a narrow road which now dead ends a few hundred yards from the runways. Hiw wife's family has lived there since the mid 1800s and has a grave-yard adjacent to the runway, which the Neff say they've heard the FAA is going to buy and move.
Out picking a fall crop of lima beans in their garden, Neff and his wife Ruby had the same complaint of half a dozen other close-in resdients. . . that Air Force One and its back-up planes and pilots, as well as commercial airlines, often make dozens of practice landings a day at Dulles, flying low over the surroundings countryside, swooping in and out on simulated approaches and departures.
One woman whose family has lived for generations in a nearby 1803 farmhouse said, "What is really aggravating is the practicing, the short cuts the planes take and the low flights. . . The Concorde you can really feel but it only comes twice a day. The practice flights seem to go on forever. But we no longer complain. It's like losing a finger, you compensate."
On an average weekday morning last week there were 51 "operations" at Dulles between 10 and 11 a.m. with 32 of them "touch and goes" or practice landings, according to the FAA. Of the 32, 12 were general aviation and 20 military - most of them made by Air Force One or one of its back-up planes which are stationed at Andrews Air Force Base in Prince George's County and fly out to Dulles about once a week, according to the FAA. An operation is either a landing or take-off.
Practice flights of all kinds are decreasing at Dulles, however, as the number of regular flights increases and because "a lot of practicing is now done on simulators. . . which is cheaper," according to an FAA official.
Not all Dulles area residents dislike jet noise or are inured to it. Some like it. "The Concorde is the most beautiful plane I've ever seen. . . and sometimes it flies right over our house," proudly says Linda Addison of Arcola, a small community not far from the end of Dulles's less used east-west runway.
"It's better than living beside the highway with all the trucks," says Orine Mullins, who lives with her six children south of the main runway. "I been here 12 years. I hear the Concorde, can see every detail as it goes by, but the noise . . . I don't pay it no mind."