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Low-flying aircraft causing concern in Quincy

Posted by Jessica Bartlett  May 9, 2013 01:21 PM

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A small, low-flying aircraft has been causing a fuss in Quincy this week, with many unanswered questions about what the aircraft is doing and who is operating it.

“It is a sanctioned flight by the FAA,” said Quincy Police Captain John Dougan, but that’s all the information he could give.

Dougan said the Police Department had received about half a dozen phone calls in the past week about the aircraft, which was humming loudly over residents’ heads at odd hours.

Despite the resident concerns, information has been limited.

Jim Peters, a public affairs spokesperson with the FAA, confirmed they knew about the aircraft but also declined to comment on what it was. “We’re not releasing anything beyond that,” he said.

When asked if people should be concerned about the aircraft, Peters said no.

“We know who they are,” he said.

If the FAA does know the agency behind the aircraft, they are remaining tight-lipped about it. Even representatives from the Quincy Mayor’s office didn’t know much about the flights.

“We’ve gotten calls from different parts of the city,” said Christopher Walker, spokesperson for Mayor Thomas Koch.

Walker said the city was only made aware that the flights were FAA-sanctioned.

For most residents, those answers aren’t good enough.

West Quincy City Councilor Brian Palmucci said a number of residents have called him about it, saying that the low-flying aircraft have been a constant presence for the last week to two weeks

“[It is a] low humming, low flying plane that the FAA says isn’t a drone; however, I would love to get some answers,” said Palmucci. “If it’s not a drone, how is it staying in the air nearly 24 hours a day? It’s my understanding that the FAA mandates that flights last no more than eight hours.”

Palmucci said even basic questions about the flights have gone unanswered, such as whether a law enforcement agency is behind them.

“Given the events of the past month, people are on edge, and the main concern that folks have is, is there something going on that they should be concerned about?” Palmucci said. “[Is there an] event, activity, individual that they should be vigilant about? And no one is providing any answers.”

Not only is the sight of the flying object disconcerting to residents, but the noise has been bothersome.

Greg Zacchine, a Quincy resident, also complained about the noise from the plane, which he said he had seen circling overhead both day and night.

“This plane makes a low pitch humming sound that's some what of a distraction while outdoors. I would like to know its purpose and who is its owner if possible,” Zacchine said in an email to Palmucci.

Quincy resident Paul O'Malley also said the sound of the plane had kept him awake at night.

"At night, on a clear night, you can look up and think it's a single engine passenger plane," O'Malley said. "It sounds like one, has the running lights like one, and it passes my house in Wollaston, circles over Milton, Blue Hills, over Randolph, Holbrook and comes back to the same spot every eight minutes. The other night it started at 7 p.m. and was woken up all night to it till about 4 a.m."

O'Malley said his wife thinks she has heard the plane for the last several weeks.

"It's kind of weird if it’s a person flying it; that’s a long time," O'Malley said. "My guess would be its an unmanned reconnaissance. My issue with it is just the noise factor. It's low enough where a lot of people have taken notice of it."

Palmucci said people might be more understanding if they knew why the planes were there, but so far, the only thing people know is there is something going on.

“If you said it’s law enforcement…people are willing to give up some peace and quiet to know law enforcement is doing work to protect them, but we don’t know that,” Palmucci said.

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