Glover Park and Foxhall residents are complaining that they are being rattled by noisy, low flying planes from National Airport.
They say the racket drowns out their telephone conversations and televisions programs, and generally causes a nuisance in the area. The noise has worsened in the past 30 days, they insist.
Clem Linnenberg, 67, a retired economist for the U. S. Public Health Service, who lives in Glover Park, told the Glover Park Citizens Association recently that the noise has been "terrible" for more than a decade.
"It is really bad at this time of the year because we have no air conditioning and we have to leave our windows open," he said.
Other Glover Park residents complained that the aircraft fly so low they can read the numbers and markings on the sides of the planes. They say the planes do not fly along the path of the Potomac River, as they are suppose to, but fly over Washington neighborhoods.
"When you are talking on the telephone you can't hear a thing -- it's disgusting," said Leon Taboh, a dentist and president of Neighbors Opposed to Irritating Sound Emissions (NOISE). He said he would not have brought his home in the 1400 block of Foxhall Road NW if he had known about the noise problem.
Taboh recently joined in a class action suit with other Washington and Maryland residents against the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and 10 airlines, calling on them to decrease the airplane noise that they say has plagued their areas. The suit, filed in May, is still under litigation before U.S. District Judge Charles R. Richey.
Skip Erhard, noise abatement officer for the FAA, explained that the problem is that the residents do not understad what airplanes can actually do. Erhard said it is difficult for observers to stand on the ground and judge the intent of the pilot or the air traffic controller.
"We don't expect the planes to go over the water every time they take off and land," he said. "When the pilot leaves National Airport and heads north over Key Bridge, the Potomac River takes a shapr jog to the left and then to the right. The plane is traveling over 200 miles per hour and it is often difficult for the pilot to stay over water."
Erhard said air traffic controllers sometimes tell pilots to abandon the noise abatement procedures because one plane has come dangerously close to another after take off. He said the controller also may instruct the pilot to increase the plane's altitude rapidly, thus increasing noise.
Complaints that the noise has recently increased may be valid, however, said Erhard, since planes have been forced to take off into a northerly wind during late September and early October.
Jeffrey Hiller, one of two attorneys representing the citizens, said he believes the airlines and the FAA can reduce noise in the neighborhoods above Georgetown. Hiller noted that the class action suit does not name Northwest Airlines, which has changed its flight patterns and taken other measures to reduce the noise of its aircraft.
The attorney said some of the noise from the planes arriving and departing from National Airport could also be lessend if the FAA made better use of Dulles International and Baltimore-Washington International airports.