After a controversy between Hilsman Park area residents and model airplane enthusiasts, including Randall Belt, went to the city manager, Code Enforcement tests show the offending planes are well within Albany noise ordinance levels, and in normal flight, lower in fact than traffic noise on 3rd Avenue.
City manager James Taylor directed Code Enforcement officers to take sound level readings of the model airplanes at a demonstration Friday morning at the Hilsman Park lime sink. After about an hour of testing, the meter showed the planes made sound that peaked at 62 decibels, which is within city regulations.
In normal flight, the plane produced noise level in the mid 50s, while ambient sound at the park, with no motors running produced 44 decibels.
When a sound test was conducted on Albany's picturesque 3rd Avenue, the decibel level was over 60.
Randall Belt is paralyzed and has to use a motorized wheelchair. So Hilsman Park is the most convenient place for him to fly his radio controlled planes, a favorite hobby.
"It gives me a means of getting out of this wheelchair. I get up in that airplane and I'm flying around and I'm having a good time," Belt said.
But Belt was grounded in February by complaints from neighbors who say the planes are too loud and a nuisance. Belt asked for a noise check to test the level, and city manager James Taylor made it happen today.
"I'm very glad I'm getting this test. That way we can prove that we are not going over the sound noise ordinance," Belt said.
Code Enforcement Chief Officer Robert Carter used a sound level meter to test the noise while Belt's brother in law Frank Moser flew the plane over the park. For five minutes, the meter checked to see if it broke the 60 decibel limit.
"It was averaging about 53 to 55. And when it was directly overhead, when he did some of the aerobatics I guess you would call it, it peaked out about 63 to 64. But with the plus and minus 3 decibels for accounting for error, it's still within the required units," Carter said.
And Belt said he was very happy with the results, but not surprised.
"I knew the planes were not that loud. As you heard when it took off. They are really not that loud," Belt said.
Now Belt hopes his banishment from the park will be lifted by city officials, and he will be permitted to fly his planes there again.
In a February interview, Frank Mosher told WALB "Total, we fly maybe a half hour at a time in the evenings. So I don't see how it could be that big of a problem."