Yet no one at the airport, which is called PDK, claims to know the Hotdog's real name -- or, more importantly, whether his plane exceeds the airport's weight limits. Judging from the noisiness of the jet and from photographs taken of outsized planes on PDK's runway, neighbors suspect the Hotdog's plane is too big and therefore too loud to be using PDK.
PDK Director Lee Remmel acknowledges the existence of the Hotdog but says he can't disclose what size plane he flies. Nor can Remmel release specifics on any flights. That's because, unlike similar-sized airports, PDK doesn't record that information, according to Remmel. Only the Federal Aviation Administration does.
Remmel would only say that planes larger than the airport's weight limit do occasionally land there, but only in case of an emergency.
Neighbors of the airport off Clairmont Road, who call themselves PDK Watch, however, allege that Remmel does have access to the flight info -- and is trying to keep them from discovering it.
For years, neighbors have been trying to figure out why PDK's jets seem to be getting bigger and noisier -- despite size restrictions laid out nearly two decades earlier in a contract between the county and the FAA. The alleged larger jets contribute to pollution and detract from quality of life and property values, PDK Watch claims.
Believing they've exhausted other measures, neighbors have begun requesting PDK's flight data under both the state Open Records Act and the federal Freedom of Information Act. Their requests so far have yielded no such data. (FAA spokeswoman Kathleen Bergen says some of the requests were filed improperly, but she would not say whether any neighbors had since filed requests correctly; one neighbor and an attorney claim they did.)
"My impression is that they don't want us to know what's going on," says Mike Murphy, a Baptist pastor whose office window faces the airport.
The records requests haven't been entirely in vain. PDK Watch claims that in response to one of the requests, it received evidence that PDK might intentionally be withholding flight data.
The group was given a copy of an October 2002 letter that Remmel sent to Frances Mulkey, FAA traffic manager. In it, Remmel asked the FAA for guidance on how to respond to the neighbors' requests -- and he attached to the letter his very own draft of an FAA letter rejecting the documents. Mulkey signed the PDK airport director's draft and sent it back to him.
Asked about the letter, Remmel declined comment. Lawyers for the airport did not return CL's phone calls.
In May, a neighbor of the airport named Mickey Feltus filed suit in DeKalb Superior Court against PDK to force it to produce the requested documents.
Attorney Brandon Hornsby, who represents Feltus, claims neighbors also have filed dozens of unanswered state Open Records requests for flight data to DeKalb County CEO Vernon Jones, and that neither Jones nor his lawyers showed up to a July deposition. County officials later released a statement saying Jones "had no relevant information in the case."
Through a spokesman, Jones declined comment, citing the pending litigation.
Still, PDK Watch has been able to obtain some of PDK's flight info from a consulting firm. The data reveals routine use of the airport by planes such as Gulfstream Vs, DC-9s and Bombardier Global Expresses -- all of which outweigh the airport's 66,000-pound weight limit.
"The noise difference between a normal commercial plane and a DC-9," neighbor Bailey Webb says, "is the difference between me talking and me screaming in your ear."
Remmel acknowledged to CL that DC-9s and Gulfstream Vs have landed at PDK. But he denied that the airport routinely lands larger jets like 737s, as some neighbors have claimed. And he says the larger planes are allowed to land in emergency situations.
Remmel also says the county shares the neighbors' sentiment that Atlanta doesn't need another noisy passenger airport.
"The bottom line is that the community and the Board of Commissioners don't want it to become a commercial airport," Remmel said. "There are hundreds of communities nationwide that want commercial service, but no one here wants that."
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