Airport noise angers some Cloverdale residents

Complaints are resurfacing in Cloverdale over noise from the airplanes operated by a skydiving company.

NorCal Skydiving, which flies out of the Cloverdale Airport, has rankled some area residents who complain of noisy aircraft associated with the company.

“Anytime we want to be outdoors we can’t, because it’s so unbearable,” said Eileen Mullinaux, a retired writer who lives on River Road in Crocker Ranch Estates, east of the airport.

She compared the noise from the planes, which make a 20-minute loop up and down Alexander Valley before launching skydivers, to “a leaf blower overhead, ” or “like having ski-mobiles up in the air.”?Noise from the skydiving operation will be the topic of a meeting Tuesday by the City Council’s airport subcommittee.

City officials shifted the ?meeting from a City Hall conference room to the Cloverdale ?Performing Arts Center to accommodate a larger audience, even though the meeting is at ?8 a.m.

The subcommittee last March took up the same topic following noise complaints related to the skydiving flights. More than two dozen people spoke, some saying the planes were making their lives miserable. Others defended the operation and downplayed any problems.

To try to appease unhappy residents, the owner “met with neighbors and did what he could to alter flight patterns,” City Manager Paul Cayler said Friday.

Jimmy Halliday, owner of NorCal, did not immediately respond to a telephone message and an e-mail Friday. But at the subcommittee meeting in March, he said he was doing his best to mitigate noise.

He said he had changed flight patterns, pilots and planes, according to minutes from the meeting.

Cayler said the complaints subsided for awhile, but flared anew several months ago. “Now we’re getting a lot more ?complaints regarding noise,” he said.

The parachuting company reportedly operates Wednesday through Sunday with relatively small Cessna planes.

There has been a skydiving operation at the city airport for almost two decades, with a two-year gap before NorCal took over from another company about six years ago.

NorCal on its website said the tandem parachute jumps offer sheer exhilaration:

“Borne on the wind at 120 miles an hour,” the jumps provide unmatched views of the Pacific Ocean, steam from The Geysers, the glaciers of Mount Shasta, Tomales Bay, the Russian River, and Alexander Valley vineyards, according to the website.

The city can’t do much about noise of the small aircraft that use the airport, according to a memo from last year’s meeting written by Cloverdale Police Chief Mark Tuma, who also serves as airport manager.

He said Federal Aviation Administration requirements “make it practically impossible for the city to regulate noise.”

Mullinaux said her entreaties to the FAA have been fruitless.

“The FAA has given them a universe of their own,” she said.

You can reach Staff Writer Clark Mason at 521-5214 or On Twitter@clarkmas

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