It's a Bird, It's a Plane, It's a Noise-Abatement Issue!

MIA's ear-splitting flight paths have local residents ready to take flight

But the package of recommendations may just be a feint. If adopted, it would be mandatory and would thus amount to practically the same thing as a codified noise-abatement policy. Asked if airline operators might see through the semantic costume and rise up against the proposals, Bunting says, "We don't know if it's going to work unless we try it." Still, he adds, there's no intent to attach penalties to the new procedures. Bunting would rather use gentle persuasion and prodding to bring airlines into line: "I may send you a nastygram saying, 'This is the noise you're creating. Would you please, please help us out here?'"

As Bunting's plans progress, yet another source of relief is in the works for the deafened masses. In response to citizen complaints, the county commission recently voted to form a task force to look into aircraft-noise issues. The group is supposed to include representatives from local neighborhoods, government, and the aviation industry. Ever the gadfly, though, McCoy is not placated by the commission's decision to create a task force. In fact, he notes, that vote was three months ago and as far as he can tell, nothing's happened since then. He has a theory: Officials are purposely delaying so that the airport's fourth runway, which is now under review, won't be subject to new policies.

But McCoy's own commissioner, Barbara Carey, clucks at the notion that political subterfuge is at work. "Everybody's been on vacation since August. We gotta rest our nerves!" scolds the commissioner, who cosponsored the task-force resolution with Commissioner Bruce Kaplan. "The issue is in the county manager's office, and he's supposed to be putting together the members of the team. I'm going down there today to ask about it."

Adds Bunting, patiently (of course): "We're trying to build up trust. I have complaints from the 1940s basically saying the same thing as today -- this situation has prevailed for years! We're now trying to get a handle on it.

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