Low Flying Aircraft & Airplane Noise

Do low-flying aircraft bother you? Are you concerned about the safety of amateur pilots above homes and schools? Do you get tired of the noise of single-engine airplanes and large airline jets? Worry about slow, easily targeted passenger planes over your home, or solo pilots flying low above critical infrastructure such as power lines?

What can be done about it?

The FAA maintains a complaint line in most cities, and tracks complaints of dangerous pilots. You may encounter an FAA staffer who seems to want to talk you out of filing a complaint. Persist. Airports also maintain noise complaint lines or web forms.

Try to have as much information as possible -- describe the plane, give the tail number if possible, and supply the incident time, location, and direction of travel. Pictures are helpful for reporting hazardous flying.

The FAA requires small planes to maintain 1,000 feet above ground level when flying over populated areas. That's about two tenths of a mile. Pilots routinely violate this rule with impunity, especially in hilly areas. The altitude buffer is required, in part, to allow a crippled plane to glide a safe distance from developed areas before landing or crashing. It also gives them more maneuvering room to avoid a collision.

February 9, 2006
"Two small aircraft collide over El Cajon and La Mesa, California"
Investigators search back yards for debris.

Three people were killed when two small planes collided at an altitude of about 2,300 feet about three miles from the Gillespie Field (elevation 388). Authorities scoured the crash site – a neighborhood on the boundary between El Cajon and La Mesa – looking for debris. On Wednesday night investigators asked some residents around the crash site to turn on their backyard lights to help them spot pieces of debris. A Cessna 172RG had just taken off from Gillespie with a flight instructor and a student pilot aboard. The 172 was under the control of the Gillespie tower when the collision took place. The pilot of the other plane, a Cessna 182, was on a pleasure flight that began earlier that day at Montgomery Field in San Diego.

(dated) August 5 2005?
"Two Die After Two Small Planes Collide in Washington"
One Plane Was Sent Crashing Into a School

Two small planes collided over a busy highway in this Seattle suburb, with one smashing through the roof of a school, killing both people aboard. The second plane landed safely nearby. The collision was between the single-engine Cessna 152 and a float plane. Jim Blundred, a teacher who lives a half-block from the elementary school, saw the crash from his deck.

Saturday, January 25, 2003
"Five die as planes collide over Denver"
One plane hits home; other lands in back yard.

The single-engine Cessna 172 P Skyhawk plane hit a home on Moncrieff Road in a northwest Denver neighborhood and burst into flames. Three people died. A larger, twin-engine Piper Cheyenne landed almost intact a few blocks south in the back yard of another home. Two more people were killed. The planes collided about 2,200 feet above the densely populated residential area.

August 9, 2000
"Two Small Planes Collide Over Burlington, New Jersey; 10 People Dead"

Bad weather blamed for crash involving small commuter plane.


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