Plymouth Municipal Airport officials have promised to investigate why neighbors are increasingly complaining about noise.  

The airport plans to extend a runway, but concerns raised at two recent meetings were not so much about the expansion, but about how much noise neighbors are hearing now.  

It is a mystery to airport staff and members of the Airport Commission, who say they are taking the complaints seriously.

“We’re reviewing that situation right now,” Ken Fosdick, chair of the Airport Commission, told the Select Board on March 12.  

He said that during a recent meeting at South Meadow Village in Carver, residents expressed more concern about training flights than they did about charter jets.

“We’re getting more of a reaction right now,” Fosdick told the Select Board. “So we’re trying to understand why…there is more of a reaction to the noise, and we’re going to have to figure that out.”

Lisa Lantagne, who has lived in Plymouth for 37 years, said the airport has changed dramatically over that time, especially in the last three years.

“The jets that are coming in, it’s a problem now,” Lantagne told the Select Board. “The planes are flying lower. They’re right over our trees. They’re coming over our house. It’s not acceptable right now the way it is.”

Lantagne, who lives on Baldwin Way, told the Independent she was sitting on her deck with a friend on Saint Patrick’s Day and watched 15 planes fly over her home in 45 minutes. They’re so loud, she said, that it’s impossible to carry on a conversation.

“This is a whole different ballgame, completely different than it ever was,” Lantagne said of the increase in volume over the past year.

Lisa and Steve Lantagne live near the airport. “The planes are flying lower,” Lisa told the Select Board. “They’re right over our trees.” Credit: (Photo by Wes Ennis)

“The sound alone is deafening on some days,” Lisa Murray told the Select Board. “I grew up on the North Shore,” said Murray, who lives near the airport. “I had Logan Airport in my backyard. I feel like I’m home.”

“We can hear them constantly,” said Jennifer Hanlon, who lives on Sushala Way. It was quieter years ago, she said.  

“We’re dealing with this over and over and over again and it’s every 60 seconds, over an hour and 15 minutes, continuously,” Hanlon told the Airport Commission March 7. “I’ve got a kid that’s trying to study for AP tests with anxiety over it. You can’t talk to each other over dinner in my kitchen.”

Hanlon told the Independent that it was not always like this.  

“Something has changed,” Hanlon said, adding that on a recent day when she was home sick, she could not fall asleep because of the sound of planes.

“We’re endeavoring to understand exactly what the issue is,” Fosdick said. “We have to figure why (the noise) is increasing. I don’t disagree that’s it’s noisy and you hear it. But I don’t understand why it’s any noisier now than it was earlier.”

Chris Hyldburg, who founded Alpha One Flight Services, a flight school at the airport, believes two factors might be at play. One is that the airport is busier than it was during the pandemic. Airlines have been hiring more pilots as they expand passenger service, and more people are training to become pilots, he said.

Coming out of the pandemic, Hyldburg said, there was “almost a feeding frenzy on pilots” as airlines tried to catch up with recovering demand for air travel.

And then there is the warmer climate.  

“We have been tracking some of the weather patterns over the last couple of years, and they have changed somewhere on some level,” Hyldburg said.

Moderating temperatures, he said, tend to bring more winds from the southwest.  

“When you have warm conditions, the winds almost always are from the southwest, because they bring that warm, moist air,” he said.

“Airplanes have to land into the wind,” he said.  

When the wind is from the southwest, planes coming in for a landing usually use runway 24, heading southwest. And since they also must take off into the wind, they tend to use runway 24 for departures as well. That means that people who live northeast of the airport, in West Plymouth, are getting more planes approaching the airport to land, and people in Carver are experiencing more planes taking off.  

“So when someone asks, ‘Can you change the pattern?’”,

Hyldburg said, “it’s very (likely) we cannot because the pattern is governed by the wind.”

“You depart on runway 24, for example,” he continued. “Runway 24 faces the southwest. That means that you become airborne, and you’ll potentially fly over South Meadow Village, which is in Carver, and it’s a mobile home community of quite a few homes.”

Until the last few years, the winds were more evenly distributed and pilots could use the other runway, 15-33, more often. That runway allows pilots to take off and land over less densely populated areas.

Hyldburg said pilots try to use “quiet flying” measures after takeoff. These include changing the angle of propeller blades so that they run more quietly.  

Something else governs the pattern, Hyldburg said: the FAA requires that all planes turn to the left after taking off.

He said his school’s pilots turn left before they get to South Meadow Village if they have reached a sufficient altitude, but that is not always possible. In warmer weather, for instance, the air is less dense, and planes take longer to climb.

Once student pilots have made that left turn, they then fly in a rectangular pattern, turning left, left, and left again until they can approach to land at the other end of the runway, in West Plymouth, repeating this pattern as they learn to take off and land.  

At the Airport Commission meeting, Fosdick said it might be possible to monitor noise in the community to determine whether the Commission could suggest noise abatement procedures. But he and other officials have pointed out that the airport can’t mandate any changes because the skies are controlled by the Federal Aviation Administration.

And, of course, there is no changing the wind.

“We’ll do what we can do,” he said.

Fred Thys can be reached at

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