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Thursday, March 23, 2023
Editor’s NotebookEditor’s Notebook: The sounds of silence (fortunately disappearing)

Editor’s Notebook: The sounds of silence (fortunately disappearing)

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One of the most visceral memories of the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks was the weeks-long period with no commercial traffic into or out of Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport. As one who was living on the eighth floor of a building that has reasonably close proximity to the airport at the time, the lack of aircraft noise was quite something, and not in a good way.

(For those who complain about noise from aircraft at Reagan National, I always ask if they bought their homes prior to 1941. Otherwise, the airport was here first and if you don’t like the noise, you shouldn’t have moved so close. But I digress …)

Even from the current McCaffrey abode in leafy Shirlington, it is easy to hear the aircraft, particularly the 6 a.m. rush when, one after another, they will depart, largely to the hubs of their airlines (Delta to Atlanta, American to Charlotte, etc., etc.) and others to popular point-to-point destinations. (Two years ago this every week, I took one of those 6:15 a.m. flights from DCA down to Orlando.)

For much of the pandemic period, there had been virtually no 6 a.m. traffic. Certainly no whoosh-whoosh-whoosh-whoosh of multiple aircraft lining up and taking off in a row.


But on Sunday, maybe for the first time in well over a year, I did hear a bunch of aircraft taking off between 6 and 7 a.m. Sounded like old times.

Reagan National still has a way to go; its rebound, for obvious reasons (the focus on business traffic and the dearth of tourism to D.C.), has been among the slowest in the nation. But unless my ears are deceiving me, things are sounding better.

And that’s good news, even for those who would prefer the sounds of silence.

CATCH-AND-RELEASE? Maybe I’m missing something, but there was an item in this week’s Arlington Police Beat that gave me some pause.

Police caught someone allegedly inside a home, having (according to the report) ripped the screen and made his way in.

And yet, at the bottom, it noted that the suspect, from the District of Columbia, was released on a summons.

Released on a summons? Again, maybe I’m missing something, but … released on a summons?

Can’t blame the on-the-beat officers; they’re just following the rules set from up above. But again … released on a summons?

We’ve seen this all before, both at the national and the local (does the name “William Burroughs” mean anything to anyone?) levels. Prosecutors stop prosecuting, so cops stop arresting, crime gets worse, people get hurt, the public eventually gets outraged and dumps the soft-on-crime commonwealth’s attorney. Only problem is, there’s going to be a whole lot of mayhem before we get to that point, and of course the people who will most likely see the impact will be those residents without the means to protect themselves in the interim. Sigh.

  • Scott McCaffrey
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