Neighbors Battle Aerobatics Practice Area

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The battle for the skies over Iowa County, Wisconsin, has reached the halls of Congress as residents of the rural area step up a campaign to ban low-level aerobatic practice near their homes. "Imagine someone holding a chainsaw next to your head hours on end, day after day," Coleman (he uses one name), a software designer who works out of his home on 46 acres in rural Mineral Point, told the Wisconsin State Journal. Competition aerobatic pilots Jeff Mawhinney and Harvey Tidball received a low-level waiver for a box over the Iowa County Airport a year ago and it's up for renewal this month. Neighbors have contacted their federal representatives to pressure the FAA into not renewing the waiver. The contest is not so unique and pilots at Hanscom field in Massachusetts may be taking note. Mawhinney, one of the pilots, suggested to the Journal that the neighbors might be expecting too much from their rural surroundings. "The big thing that's upsetting them is they expect walking out their doors and hearing nothing, peace and tranquility, zero," he said. AOPA spokesman Jeff Myers said there's a larger jurisdictional issue at stake. "These people are saying 'I own the land from the ground to infinity,'" said Myers. FAA spokeswoman Elizabeth Isham Cory told the Journal that while inspector handbooks recommend that the effect of noise on nearby residents be considered when issuing a waiver, there's no law that requires it. So far there's no mention of lawsuits in this case.