Citizens For A Better Norwood

Monday, July 30, 2007

Look up in the sky, it’s a plane!

Hey, you’re not supposed to be able to see that plane!

At a recent council meeting, Councilperson Vic Schneider asked Mayor Williams if he could do anything to tone down the sources of noise that he said are negatively affecting the quality of life for Norwood residents. In addition to the sirens from the city’s own fire and police vehicles, he referenced the loud Air Care helicopters and the noise from a plane that patrols I71 near Norwood. If memory serves, the city’s sirens were the only source the mayor said he would/could possibly address.

But wait a minute, what and whose plane patrols I71, and how long has this been going on? As wild coincidence would have it, a friend reported just two days later she had been stopped by the police at I71 and the Dana Avenue exit because a plane had clocked her going 20 mph over the speed limit. Uh oh, it was time to call Lt. Tom Williams, Jr. at the NPD and get to the bottom of this plane business.

Lt. Williams told us the Ohio State Police patrol I71 with a plane, so we called them and spoke with Sgt. Brian Welling, who generously answered our questions. He said the 10-year-old plane patrol program, for lack of a better term, operates with 7-8 planes for the entire state, and one of them is assigned to Greater Cincinnati. “Typically,” he explained, “it’s out every day covering 6-7 counties in S.W. Ohio. On I75 for Butler and Hamilton Counties, it’s at least every 3 days for several hours.”

Sgt. Welling went on to describe how it works: Every ¼ mile, there’s a white marking on the interstate pavement. Once the pilot spots a vehicle s/he thinks may be speeding, s/he uses a timing device to record how long it takes the vehicle to travel ¼ mile and does this several times for accuracy. The time is converted into miles per hour, and then the pilot radios the officer on the ground, who then flags the speeder over.

Very interesting. "But what about the noise from the plane that our councilperson says is disturbing the peace in our city?" we ask. Sgt. Welling replied that the pilots are high enough (in altitude) most of the time that they can’t be seen or heard, and that he himself had never heard plane noise from the ground.

We believe Sgt. Welling has never heard the plane, but we can also imagine there have been exceptions to the plane flying too high to be heard by Norwood residents. It doesn’t sound like anything can be done to abate the plane’s noise, but there is something we can all do to avoid getting caught by OSP planes patrolling Ohio interstates, and we all know what that is.