Good Neighbor FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

Why are aircraft flying over my house?

The FAA directs traffic into and out of the Airport. Flights are directed to the safest pattern depending on the amount of air traffic and prevailing winds at the time of arrival or departure. Safety is the FAA’s first consideration. However, aircraft can and do fly over all parts of Sonoma County. Sonoma County does not contain any No Fly Zones.


What are the altitude requirements for aircraft landing at or taking off from the Airport?

The Airport’s standard altitude pattern is the highest allowed by the FAA. Under FAA regulations, altitude restrictions are not applicable during landing and takeoff. The FAA has exclusive sovereignty of airspace in the United States (49 U.S.C. Section 40103(a).


What happens when I file a complaint?

The Airport takes noise complaints seriously. Each complaint is recorded and staff makes every effort to correlate specific complaints to aircraft. At the end of each month, private operators and airlines are notified of the complaints received regarding their operations, including the communication of relevant details. STS encourages all pilots to be good neighbors and remain aware of noise-sensitive areas.


What Cal Fire Aircraft operate at STS?

Cal Fire aircraft operate out of the Airport year-round. Most of these aircraft are turboprops and will appear red in color. They often fly lower than other aircraft and in a repetitive pattern if they are fighting an active fire.


What types of helicopters operate at STS?

  • Sheriff Helicopter. The Sheriff Department’s helicopter (Henry 1) is green and gold.
  • Reach Air Medical Helicopter. Reach helicopters are red. These helicopters are engaged in medical transport.
  • Private Helicopters. There is a helicopter school operating at the Airport and private helicopter pilots also are required to log a certain number of hours on a new helicopter model. Several Airport tenants also operate privately-owned helicopters.

Note re: PG&E Power Line Checking

Before, during, and after fire season, PG&E will use helicopters to check power lines. These helicopters will often appear to be flying at a low altitude, hovering over the same area, doubling back, etc.


Could the noise be nearby wind machines?

STS often received complaints regarding noise that mimics the sound of a helicopter. If you live nearby a vineyard/winery, there is a high possibility that noise disturbances you are hearing could in fact be propeller wind machines used in the vineyards to prevent frost. The sound from these machines mimics the propellers of an aircraft. These machines are utilized by wineries to prevent vine freeze. The machines will automatically kick-on in the early hours of morning (as early as 3 a.m.) when temperatures dip during specific times of year (particularly January through April).

Before filing a noise complaint with the Airport, please be sure the noise you are experiencing isn’t being caused by nearby wind machines.


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