Plane annoying! Ridge man maddened by interference on boob tube

The Brooklyn Paper
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Low-flying planes over Bay Ridge are wreaking havoc on the TV-watching habits of a Shore Road man — and it has nothing to do with the loud roar of a jet engines making him unable to hear his favorite programs.

Eighty-year-old Allen Bortnick says that he hasn’t been able to watch his favorite shows like “NCIS” and “The McLaughlin Group” for the past month-and-a-half, when he began noticing that his tube went on the fritz whenever a plane flew overhead.

“It’s hellish,” he said. “It happens four times a day, but it’s pretty heavy.”

Bortnick, who has trouble getting around because of a neurological disease, watches hours of TV a day to pass the time between meetings of the community board, where he is a member of the traffic and transportation committee, and having his picture taking while holding his nose to prove to newspaper readers that the Owls Head Sewage Treatment Plant smells.

But when a plane flies overhead, his ability to watch “Jeopardy” is, well, put in jeopardy.

Bortnick says that interference caused by the planes make his TV lose reception during the morning, late afternoon, early evening and late at night.

And Bortnick said he’s tried everything to solve the problem.

“I put a rabbit antennae out the window, but I face east and reception is poor to begin with,” he said. “I lose my signal and programs just break up or I lose the signal [all together].”

Bad reception caused by planes — know as “airplane flutter” in over-the-air parlance — happens when signals bouncing off of low-flying planes create a warped image known as “rolling” — the very symptoms Bortnick sees while trying to get his daily fix of “Wheel of Fortune” on Channel 7.

The Korean War vet said that he and his elderly neighbors, many of whom also pick up TV signals with rabbit ears, can’t afford to pay for cable, so they’ll have to make do with a warbled “Regis and Kelly.”

“An awful lot of people in this neighborhood have not bothered to go out and buy flat screens,” said Bortnick, who claims he has a five-year-old television plugged into a digital converter box (though pictures of the TV seem to prove otherwise), and says that he can’t afford a better rig on his veteran’s benefits and Social Security.

Justin Brannan, spokesman for Councilman Vincent Gentile (D–Bay Ridge), said that when he contacted the Federal Aviation Administration — the agency that monitors the country’s airspace — on Bortnick’s behalf, he was told that planes have been flying directly over the Ridge for the past month.

“This time of year and into the winter, LaGuardia uses Runway Four and Runway 310,” he said the agency told him. “This approach takes them right over Bay Ridge.”

The agency did not respond to our repeated requests for comment on Bortnick’s dilemma.

So he’ll just have to wait until spring, when planes will no longer be routed over the Ridge.

“I’m just sitting back and waiting.” he said. “In the meantime, I’ll just keep pestering them in the hopes that they’ll change something.”

Reach reporter Dan MacLeod at or by calling (718) 260-4507. Follow his tweets at
Updated 5:28 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Ken from Williamsburg says:
Ever since the over the air signal went digital, reception has been very poor, especially with the older sets with the converter boxes.
Dec. 1, 2011, 6:22 am
Homey from Crooklyn says:
Maybe you guys will win a Pulitzer for this piece of crap
Dec. 1, 2011, 8:54 am
Or from Yellow Hook says:
Once upon a time, TV came thru the air and was free, if you watched the commercials.

It was magic.

Then there was "pay TV" that promised you TV without the commercials/

And the Government came along and said "We cannot have this!"

And they took the TV frequency and sold it, making you have to go to pay tv (cable or satellite) that now was full of commercials.

And that same Government is how going to be in charge of your health care!
Dec. 1, 2011, 9:02 am
henry ford from bay ridge says:
Before cable, channel 2 was unwatchable in much of Bay Ridge, supposedly from interference from the bridge. Some things never change.
Dec. 1, 2011, 9:29 am
ty from pps says:
Or from Yellow Hook -- What twisted reality do you live in? You just spew crap based on NOTHING. Guess what? TV Broadcast Channels are still very much FREE... and with the digital transmission they are also BETTER.

I know many many people that got rid of cable and enjoy their HD TV over the air... for free!

Do you see anything in this article (or in reality) that supports your stupid comments?

So, in short, SHUT UP.
Dec. 1, 2011, 10:04 am
PH from PS says:
Are you guys trying to compete with The Onion now? That would actually improve the quality of this "newspaper."
Dec. 1, 2011, 10:47 am
Jay from Bay Ridge says:
maybe a amplifier to boost the signal is needed.
Dec. 1, 2011, 12:45 pm
Eddie Mazz from Bay Ridge says:
The problem is Not Low Flying Planes or the Bridge that's just Plane Crazy!! Do you Homework first! It's the other buildings around you! That's the source of your interference. I recommend the "Leaf" indoor antenna and that should fix your problem or get a heavy duty roof antenna. Remember converter box's need to Re scan at least once a month to get the best signal. And FYI planes only use runway 4 if the wind is coming from the north....
I like to ride my bicycle from Bay Ridge to watch the planes land!
Dec. 1, 2011, 3:08 pm
Piney says:
Maybe it's all the Band-Aid boxes?
Dec. 1, 2011, 4:15 pm
Or from Yellow Hook says:
Ty, so, obviously the gent in the story has perfect free reception, with his HD receiver and is just lying?

Do you see anything in this article (or in reality) that supports your stupid comments?
Dec. 1, 2011, 10:33 pm
David from Brooklyn Heights says:
Where I am, it's mainly helicopters that break up the signal. Maddening. The problem did worsen when digital broadcasting arrived.
Dec. 2, 2011, 10:58 am
Joey from Clinton Hills says:
next up, another angry white guy from Bay Ridge and this one is railing against low-flow toilets!
Dec. 2, 2011, Noon
Not Goish from Prospect Heights says:
Next: Old Man Yells At Cloud: yells at cloud&hl=en&sa=X&biw=1280&bih=651&tbm=isch&prmd=imvns&tbnid=TYO7kiOoKy3_lM:&imgrefurl=,r:0,s:0
Dec. 2, 2011, 1:49 pm
Mark O from Hurricaine Ridge says:
This is gripping! I wonder how this will turn out... will the man have to resort to yelling at kids to get off his lawn?!? I won't be able to sleep at night until I find out how this ends! Dan Macleod might get assigned to stories about missing cats if he keeps this amazing work up!
Dec. 3, 2011, 6:03 pm
George from Yellow Hook says:
Who cares if some crazy old man can't watch CBS. This guy does not even live in Bay Ridge. Just die already
Dec. 3, 2011, 7:47 pm
Frank from Astoria says:
This is absurd. A set of "Rabbit ears" have not affect at all on TV reception in the United States.

There is no way that this person is watching TV without a digital converter. Period.

No (network) TV station in the US has transmitted an analogue signal since 2010. Period.

Do some research.
Dec. 3, 2011, 11:46 pm
Bay Ridger from Bay Ridge says:
A suggestion: shut off the boob tube and read a book.
Dec. 5, 2011, 3:16 pm
Vasillios from Dyket Hts says:
I see the planes more clearly from here and they are low and I can hear the noise. make it stop, it sucks and is annoying and ruining my quality of life.

I hate airplanes
Feb. 5, 2012, 9:34 pm
DeLeyon from bensonhurst says:
whats with the plane they seem to be flying really low and I hear them, never heard them before.

it sucks.
Feb. 7, 2012, 8:30 pm
Omar from Bath Beach says:
yeah these freaking planed suck, the FAA does not care about the millions of tax paying residents that have to endure this.

every 30 seconds another airplane roars by, every 30 seconds
Jan. 17, 2013, 9:27 pm
Richard from West Palm Beach, FL says:
I have planes land over my house all the time, making viewing difficult. The signal goes out for about 5 seconds at a time. It even happened when I could still afford cable. Making a good recording of anything is impossible unless a broadcast happens to be after midnight. During peak times this happens almost every minute. I have a top of the line roof antenna. Does anyone have any suggestions?
Feb. 27, 2015, 11:54 am

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