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Mailbag: Air India crash serves as reminder of hazards

May 26, 2010

Friday's deadly Air India crash is a grim reminder of the dangers facing Newport Beach residents since implementation of DUUKE 1 and DUUKE 2, which erroneously moved some flights taking off from John Wayne Airport to the east side of the Back Bay, directly over homes, schools and churches.

Fortunately, the Air India crash, while only six miles from the airport, happened in a forested area and no one on the ground was hurt. And if planes were still flying down the center of the Back Bay — our own natural "buffer zone" — casualties from a plane crash here would be minimized, at least for those on the ground.

Every day, some 3,000 children from pre-school through 12th grade attend Corona del Mar High School, Eastbluff Elementary, Our Lady Queen of Angels, Boys & Girls Club and a day-care center.

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All are directly under the new flight path, putting every one of these children at risk should an accident happen here. And while that may be a worst-case scenario, we must not overlook the well-researched and highly negative impacts of aircraft noise on children's learning, cognition and stress levels, nor can we ignore the increased health impacts of jet exhaust being deposited directly on our homes, schools and athletic fields.

According to reports on the Air India crash, there was no warning, "no distress message or communication from the pilot that the aircraft was having mechanical or operational difficulty."

We may never know what happened in India; however, we can make sure it does not happen here. We just need the planes moved back to the center of the bay.

Call the Federal Aviation Administration, call your City Council members, call the Orange County supervisors, call the airport, call the airlines' corporate offices. Make your concerns known loud and clear. Our children deserve nothing less.

Susan Menning

Newport Beach

American election system is a privilege

In response to the cynical and self-serving response by David Pearse to Judge Gray's column: I absolutely disagree (Mailbag: "Gray's vote won't matter," May 21).

I have had the good fortune over the last 25 years to travel to dozens of countries, many of which were oppressive dictatorships, communist states or kleptocracies. I have spoken with activist lawyers in Latin America, Coptic Christians in Egypt, students in Nigeria and dissidents in East Bloc Europe. And love or hate the United States, they had one thing in common. They wished their countries had our system of free and fair elections.

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