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Is there a noise ordinance that applies to military aircraft flying very low?

Ken Little

This Associated Press file photo shows a V-22 Osprey followed by a helicopter at Naval Air Station at Patuxent River near Lexington Park, Md. Such aircraft have also been spotted in the skies over Southeastern North Carolina.

The complete question:

Is there no noise ordinance that applies to military aircraft (mostly helicopters) flying very low and so near our beaches anytime of the day and night?  They fly so low that homes shake!

The answer:

Military planes do not have to abide by local government ordinances, only Federal Aviation Administration rules, said Wanda Copley, New Hanover County attorney.

Added Gary W. Broughton, director of operations at Wilmington International Airport:

“Flight rules are dictated by federal regulations and the military aircraft are governed by the same regulations. ILM has no authority over these aircraft and in fact, these aircraft flying under Visual Flight Rules (VFR) have no obligation to speak to the FAA Control Tower at ILM,” Broughton said.

“As this appears to be mostly helicopters, it is likely that they are based at Marine Corps Air Station New River,” he said.

Broughton suggests that concerns about low-flying aircraft be directed to the MCAS New River complaint line, at (910) 449-6311.

Some readers thought the louder aircraft might be vertical takeoff and landing planes.

“Noise levels can vary depending on where someone is positioned, what the aircraft is doing, and their altitude at any particular time,” said Marine Corp Capt. Brian Block.

For additional info on the AV-8B Harrier and MV-22 Osprey, Block recommends visiting the following websites:




Is there a secret underground military base at Wilmington International Airport?

Do aircraft landing at Wilmington International Airport ever get fined for flying too low over residential neighborhoods?


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17 Responses to “ Is there a noise ordinance that applies to military aircraft flying very low?”

  1. On March 15, 2012 at 1:36 pm Relan wrote:

    Teach yourself to not be bothered by it. That is the sound of freedom, my friend.

  2. On March 15, 2012 at 6:36 pm Lee Bell wrote:

    Is there one for the Sheriffs helicopter? That one hovers over long leaf park quite often late at night. It hovered over the corner of Shipyard Blvd and Carolina Beach road for about 4-5 hours the other day.

  3. On March 16, 2012 at 5:46 am Rob wrote:

    Would you rather have our planes flying low for practice or a Mig flying low over your house??

  4. On March 16, 2012 at 6:25 am Stanley wrote:

    Most of what you are hearing at night is probably local law enforcement and not military.

  5. On March 16, 2012 at 8:46 am Robert Pleasants wrote:

    Excuse the noise, it is the sound of freedom.

  6. On March 16, 2012 at 10:36 am Bob Lockerby wrote:

    According to OPNAV instruction 3710.7U (which guides Navy and USMC flights) beaches are considered noise sensitive areas (paragraph As such, they shall be avoided when at an altitude of less than 3,000 feet above ground level unless the aircraft is in compliance with an approved visual or instrument route, is on an approved traffic of approach pattern, or is in compliance with an approved special use airspace (paragraph Bottom line, we were always taught to avoid flying over beaches as they are considered noise sensitive areas when less than 3,000 feet above ground level.

  7. On March 16, 2012 at 1:18 pm Really!!!!!!!!! wrote:

    For you people who whine and cry, because the military are flying trained operations near our beaches, need to realize, those low flying aircraft, are the sweet sound of our freedom. I would not even consider complaining about such a wonderful sound. If you don’t like it…. move away from our coast, to a remote place with no military near-by. When I lay in bed at night and here a helicopter fly over, and my house shakes, it puts a smile on my face, knowing that the most powerful military in the world is up, keeping us safe.

  8. On March 17, 2012 at 12:08 am H. Edwards wrote:

    Really? I’m so sorry that those same aircraft that allow you to have the freedom to own that beach home are such a nuisance. How about the next time you see one of this military guys buying lunch, a beer or even their groceries, you pick up the tab and tell them thanks for a great job, I do.

  9. On March 17, 2012 at 6:48 am Terry wrote:

    That is the sound of Freedom!!!

  10. On March 18, 2012 at 8:29 am Gene wrote:

    I see and hear the V-22s from New River usually daily where I live in addition to low level practice target runs by F-15 Eagles fighter jets from Seymour Johnson AFB Goldsboro. My reaction is I love it, feel secure, and I appreciate what the military is doing for us! As for the noise, well the continuous motorcycle/vehicle traffic racing through my neighborhood is much more irritating.

  11. On March 18, 2012 at 6:59 pm Marty wrote:

    The sound you are hearing is the sound of freedom.

  12. On March 26, 2012 at 11:40 am johnny wrote:

    couldnt all annoying noises be the sound of freedom? im going to start using that excuse…

  13. On March 26, 2012 at 1:17 pm Seb wrote:

    Thanks to all of you for pointing out that what I hear is the sound of freedom. I am aware of that. But you are obviously missing the point here. We live in a democracy and are governed by the rule of law. My question was a simple one: Are those flight patterns regulated or not? Why are those aircraft made/allowed to fly so low and precisely above residences when they could just fly a few hundred yards away from the shoreline? Is that necessary for military training purposes? Or is it done just for fun? (Some former pilots actually have acknowledged that sometimes it is done just for fun.)

  14. On March 29, 2012 at 12:04 am Willard wrote:

    I know some sleep more sound than others, but I see military helicopters fly over all the time during the day, sometimes at night. Planes and tilt rotor aircraft. Doesn’t bother me even when sleeping. Actually, I run out like a kid to catch a glimpse. I’ve even seen F-15’s flying lower than the Marriott in Carolina Beach before. It wasn’t a problem, it was absolutely cool :-) When I see them, I wonder, where are they headed and what it would be like to be in their shoes, serving our country. We happen to live in an area near military bases and their flight paths. An international airport as well. It’s only common sense to expect some level of aircraft noise. When they pass over, it’s likely only about five minutes or less in your life, hear it and move on.

  15. On April 2, 2012 at 6:40 pm Terry wrote:

    Well Jonny and Seb, bunker down in a fox hole in Iraq for 10 months then come home and you will love that sound, or just get yourself a iPod and earplugs and sing yourself to sleep. That is while thousands of men and women are not sleeping!

  16. On April 4, 2012 at 10:11 am Harold Davidson wrote:

    To all of the “sound of freedom” folks: Please post your address so that I can bring my stereo over and play “sound of freedom” recordings several times a night in front of your house! To feel my pain, hopefully you have young children that wake up screaming and fightened by the sound.

    I have no problem with them training, but there is no reason for them to fly right on the coastline. If the men have that little confidence in their ability or the ability of their aircraft to fly over water, then I don’t want them over me.

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