More Flights over the Heights?

jsw_img_6025_edited-1Recently, I’ve noticed that, on cloudy, rainy days, the sound of jet engines seems much louder than usual. I attributed this to some sort of atmospheric effect, such as moist air amplifying sound. Today, I was on the Promenade during a brief break in the rain, and saw several planes–including the one in the photo above–flying almost directly over the Heights on an apparent approach to La Guardia. Some comments on my “Park Progress” post below made me think about this. The plane in the photo is a long-range four engine airliner of a type that doesn’t normally use La Guardia. So, perhaps, as one commenter suggested, the Heights is under some bad weather alternative flightpath to JFK.

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  • epc

    I thought it might be traffic to JFK as well, but from looking at it appears to be LGA bound traffic which is looping around to the east of LGA to circle out over LI sound and the Bronx. Also see

  • Rob

    I have noticed the same thing…from almost never hearing any, to 5-10 times in the evenings. What gives? Flying kind of low too it seems.

  • Teddy

    That plane looks like a DC-8 cargo jet (the engines look too big to be the engines of an Airbus A340). Anyway, in the all of the years I can remember, planes landing at LGA usually missed the Heights, flying over Boerum Hill. Maybe it had something to do with the low cloud ceiling.

  • John of Clinton

    Thursday night there were two or three over Clinton Street around 8:30

  • curmudgeonly troll

    I think it’s happened in bad weather as long as I can remember. When pilots are on instruments they’re pretty busy and, when the approach calls for them to get down to altitude X by the time they get to point Y, the natural thing is to do it right away and not have to worry about it. On visual approach you’re more likely to do things gradually and stay high as long as possible.

  • CJP

    Teddy’s observation is correct, it does look like a DC8 Cargo jet but that would be extremely unlikely. More likely that it is an A340. (Definitely not a 747 and I can’t think of any other four engine planes still flying.)

    There aren’t any four-engine planes that would ever land at LGA.

    In times of bad weather I too have noticed big planes flying low over the Heights but no question in my mind based on plane type and airline that they’re on some other approach to JFK.

  • melanie hope greenberg

    The planes were so low I thought they were gonna land in Cadman Park the other night.
    Low planes always brings up 911. I heard the first plane smack into the wtc and felt the second as an airwave, my building shook. Low planes still have an effect on me, I guess.

  • No One Of Consequence

    “stay high as long as possible”

    ah, yes.. just like in college (or at St. Ann’s?)

  • ABC

    I’m glad there is a reason other than the Park Slope mafia (as I surmised in the Park Progress thread)

  • Steve

    I live on Montague street and I’ve definitely been noticing the same thing all week. I’ve noticed it several times before, but it seems as though its been pretty consistent this week.

    It freaks me out a little too. I’m always thinking 9/11 or that someone’s going to try to land in the river again and not quite make it. Certainly not comforting thoughts, although admittedly probably a little too paranoid.

  • John Wentling

    You can always contact the FAA to see if there’s been any change in flight paths – temporary, permanent or otherwise. The FAA does not generally allow change in flight paths without input from the city and the affected communities/neighborhoods, after all, there are issues of noise and safety.

    Call the FAA and ask.

  • AEB

    I have the same semi-paranoiac response to fireworks, which seem to happen with great frequency here in–or above–BH.

    Can anyone tell me what occasions occasion the window-rattling, cat-freaking displays other than the expected, like the Fourth?

  • JT

    I was over at South Street Seaport on Friday afternoon noticing the same thing. I’m pretty familiar with the flight approaches and thought this to be unusual. I assumed, as have many others that this was an alternate LGA approach, until I saw an Emirates jet go over. And as has been noted regarding the four-engine issue — that’s not headed to LGA. So this definitely seems to be JFK traffic — from the Seaport, it was pretty apparent that they were coming from the east, rather than to/from EWR.

  • Claude Scales

    AEB: About ten years ago, I was paging through the Federal Register when I came across an item headed “U.S. Coast Guard: Closure of East River, New York, NY” followed by a date a month or so in the future. The text under explained that on that date, between the hours of 8 and 9pm, the East River between the mouth of Newtown Creek and the southern tip of Roosevelt Island would be closed to navigation because of the Scharfman Bat Mitzvah fireworks. I showed this to one of my colleagues, who then served as president of his synagogue. He made a copy to post on the temple’s bulletin board along with a note to the effect that he considered this sort of thing “excessive.”

    Of course, there are occasions other than bar or bat mitzvahs, birthdays, silver anniversaries and so forth that have been made occasions for fireworks displays. Some, as I recall, celebrate corporate product launches. Perhaps a straitened economy will curtail their frequency.

  • AEB

    Thanks, Claude (if I may); amused as well as informed by your post.

    Yes, of course, anything celebratory or would-be so is, I suppose, “grist” for a pyrotechnic display.

    Of course, winter curtailed these….I wish I could simply turn off their volume; I’m fine with the lightshow but the explosive artillery-type noise is something else….

  • jiker

    i noticedd this yesterday all during the day. they were quite low and you could hear the engines. they were heading in the direction of lga.

  • ABC

    There is usually a fireworks schedule posted online that I print up so I can have it handy when I hear booms and wonder, “fireworks or End of Days?”

    I imagine the private fireworks may be fewer this year, but the big ones that sneak up on people are the displays for Children’s Day (June, sponsored by Target) and Diwali (October). Both are super loud and excessive if you’re not expecting it. Or fantastic — better than July 4th and without the crowds — if you are expecting it. I’m raising my kids to skip the fireworks celebrating the red, white and blue. Instead we stay up late and sit on the promenade for Children’s Day and Diwali instead. Vive le differece!

  • Pierrepont

    Don’t planes have to use runways that minimize crosswinds for landing? Is it possible that the demon winds of the past few days have made “the usual” runways unusable, and that’s the reason those planes are strafing the Heights?

  • AEB

    Thanks, ABC…..

  • Jane

    I noticed two 4 engine planes Friday and thought it was odd, as my understanding was they did not fly in/out of LGA. The planes were intensely low as well, however, having also grown up in the Heights, I can say that in the 70’s if there was really bad weather the planes were very low coming over the Heights (dare I mention that my 9 year old self thought it was the Russians on more than one night??).