When I began to read the story “New Jacksonville law targets homebuilders in Florida city” in the Sept. 8 edition, I felt the outrage welling up against yet another government entity whipping on general aviation. Obviously, however, the facts are not always as they appear initially. So much for first impressions.
If the story is accurate, then this is clearly a case of an obnoxious neighborhood pest who just happens to have an airplane. It could just as easily have been the owner of a loud motorcycle or race car, creating a nuisance at unreasonable times. There is no question that Mr. Kraut has the right to pursue his aviation endeavor, but not when it causes an unreasonable annoyance to his neighbors. Loud noise and lights in the windows have been used by law enforcement and our military as a form of psychological warfare, such as what was done in Waco and during the ouster of Manuel Noriega. Clearly, this is not an aviation rights issue at the most basic level. I have real sympathy for the Everetts, having to deal with this situation.
I am an aircraft owner, a commercial pilot, flight instructor and A&P mechanic. I own an aviation business, and we offer the public retail sales, aircraft maintenance, flight instruction and aircraft rentals. I see the Brian Krauts of the industry daily, and thank my good fortune that I do not have to deal with them. We have all seen them, holding court at the FBO on Saturday, bragging about how no CFI tells THEM how to fly their airplane, no mechanic tells THEM what they can and cannot do to their aircraft, nobody tells THEM anything, blah blah blah. Fortunately, the majority of the aviation community is not like this. But it damages ALL of us when the general public, already thinking general aviation is just full of daredevils and hot-shots, gets a face full of Brian Kraut and then reaches the conclusion we are all like that. For every incident like this, or some kid running a 172 into a bank building, or some little girl getting killed in a training stunt, we have to work that much harder to educate the general public about the reality of general aviation.
Make no doubt about it, general aviation is under attack from our federal government on a daily basis. The regular press distorts the facts about us when reporting on us. What we do NOT need are these kinds of attacks from within our own perimeter. This is the issue and precedent that should be addressed by EAA and Dick Knapinski. Perhaps Mr. Kraut should move into the house next to Mr. Knapinski, go about his loud, late night endeavors, and see if Mr. Knapinski likes it. EAA does so many good things for the aviation community, such as Young Eagles, and they understand good press and bad press. The Jacksonville ordinance will not have near the negative ramification impacting other aircraft homebuilders as the actions of Mr. Kraut. To paraphrase a James Carville political quote, “It’s the noise, stupid.” This transcends political party lines.
This can be fixed. First, Mr. Kraut, go apologize to your neighbor for being a jerk. Work on your airplane at reasonable times. Enclose your air compressor and put sound deadening materials around it. Point the spotlight AWAY from the neighbors’ window. Don’t blast the neighbor with your prop wash. Paint the fence something other than pink. You are right about one thing, Mr. Kraut. You can only take so much. Well said, but for the wrong reason. If you can’t do these things, then please let your neighbor know you are a jerk that just happens to own an aircraft, not a jerk BECAUSE you own an aircraft. Then sell the airplane and buy a boat. Give them a bad name.