Locals angry at fireworks flyover
Wednesday, 18 July 2012 11:23

Bond advertiser describes stunt as “marketing”

by Ben Boehl

Most Dundalk residents were looking forward to seeing the traditional fireworks display at Grange Elementary School on July 4. When they arrived, there was more than just fireworks in the sky.
    “There was a helicopter  flying around with a bail bonds advertisement,” said Walnut Avenue resident Bill Cain, who watched the fireworks from CCBC-Dundalk.
    “The noise wasn’t so bad, but it was just a nuisance. It drew your attention away from the fireworks and towards their ad.”

Christine Barnes watched the fireworks at the Our Lady of Hope Roman Catholic Church field and said the noise of the helicopter was equally annoying.
 “It was a real downer and a distraction,” Barnes added. “We went to enjoy the fireworks and he (the pilot) was there with something that 99 percent of the crowd didn’t care about.”
    The helicopter was promoting East Coast Bail Bonds. Vinny Magliano, owner of the bail bonds company, said he got calls from some people who liked the idea of marketing his business during the fireworks, but admitted that he got a few negative phone calls too.
    “I didn’t mean to offend anyone. It was purely marketing,” Magliano stated. “This was the first time I’ve ever gotten negative feedback.”
    Joe Falbo, the Heritage Association president, said he didn’t see the aircraft, but heard the complaints. Falbo believes this is the same bail bonds company that tried to get a booth at the Heritage Fair, but the fair committee wouldn’t allow them because they tried to pass out free company  t-shirts.
    “We don’t need people walking around the fair wearing bail bonds t-shirts. It makes us look like a bunch of hooligans,” he said.
    Magliano said that his company did pass out t-shirts at the fireworks and they were well received. “I’m not trying to make the community look bad. I’m just marketing my business,” Magliano added.
    As far as the helicopter, Falbo explained that the Heritage Association didn’t know or approve of the aircraft flying around the fireworks and hopes to keep those types of aircrafts from returning next year.
    But the question is how?
    “I really don’t know who you would contact to prevent it. Maybe the FAA?” Falbo said.
    According to the Federal Aviation Administration guildelines, an aircraft must remain at least 500 feet in the air and isn’t permitted to fly directly over a public event, but the aircraft is allowed to circle around the event.
    According to Cain and Barnes, the helicopter followed those regulations.
    Charles Baublitz of MTN Airport Operations at Martin State Airport said that the public might not like it, but the helicopter had a legal right to be there as no FAA restrictions were violated.
    “I don’t believe you can stop this type of aviation business operation unless you can show that they operated in an unsafe manner,” Baublitz said.
    When asked if legislation would be introduced into the Maryland General Assembly, 6th District Del. John Olszewski Jr. said he is open to ideas on legislation, but doesn’t want government to become overbearing by reacting to one event.
    Olszewski likes the idea of increasing the distance away from the event, but that decision is probably out of the assembly’s hands and would be left up to the FAA.
    “Unfortunately, you can’t legislate common decency”  Olszewski added.
    But according to Magliano, if another helicopter flies over next year, it won’t be from his business.
    “I’ve made the decision not to do it again,” he said.