Go to hell-icopter! Brooklyn pols renew push to ban tourist choppers

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The city should tell tourist helicopters to buzz off, say Brooklyn waterfront residents who are cheering a new campaign by local lawmakers to jettison the joyrides.

City councilmembers are drafting a bill that would ban the tours from taking off from a city-owned Manhattan heliport directly across from Brooklyn Heights, and locals — who have long complained about the sound of eggbeaters hovering over the East River — say the news is music to their ears.

“So many people in this neighborhood talk to each other about the noise, and everybody just hates it,” said Rick Elkins, a graphic designer who works from his home in the Heights. “Sitting at my desk, I can hear the helicopters even though I’m a couple blocks inland.”

The city already banned sightseeing helicopters from flying over Brooklyn in 2010, but local lawmakers say the residents are still plagued by the rotorcraft racket on the river.

“The negative contribution of tourist helicopters to air quality and noise is well documented, and has — for many years — been a real problem for New Yorkers,” said Councilman Carlos Menchaca (D–Red Hook), who is spearheading the push, which fellow Councilman Steve Levin (D–Brooklyn Heights) says he will support.

Five chopper companies launch around 40,000 tourist flights each year — about 110 a day — from the Downtown Manhattan Heliport, according to industry boosters who have pledged to fight the bill. They claim banning the tourist flights would cost 200 New Yorkers their jobs and take tens of millions of dollars out of city coffers.

“If this outrageous bill passes, I’ll be out of a job, along with hundreds of other working-class New Yorkers,” said Brian Tolbert, the manager of the Downtown Manhattan Heliport and a spokesman for the industry lobby Helicopters Matter. “People’s livelihoods are on the line and we will fight to protect our jobs.”

The rotor-heads claim the tourist-flight business brings in $33 million a year, but anti-chopper activists say that is just spin. They claim the figure counts every dollar that riders spend in the city, not just ticket sales and taxes generated by the industry, and the choppers in fact cost the city money, as taxpayer dollars are used to repair and maintain the heliport.

“If you fly in from Idaho, every hot-dog, every T-shirt, every Broadway ticket goes toward that $33 million because they’re saying they came for the helicopter ride,” said anti-noise group Stop the Chop head honcho Delia von Neuschatz, who lives in lower Manhattan and compared the clatter to living in a war zone. “The fact is we are subsidizing them. The only people who really benefit are the owners.”

Brooklyn Heights and Red Hook residents have been raising hell over the helicopters since 2009, when a heliport on the west side of Manhattan closed down, and the choppers all moved to the launch-pad across the river.

More than a dozen New York and New Jersey pols — including Borough President Adams, Assemblyman Felix Ortiz (D–Red Hook), and State Sen. Daniel Squadron (D–Brooklyn Heights) — sent a letter to Mayor DeBlasio in August last year demanding the city ban the tourist trips.

The Daily News was first to report the forthcoming bill to ban the tourist ’copters.

Reach reporter Noah Hurowitz at or by calling (718) 260–4505. Follow him on Twitter @noahhurowitz
Updated 10:17 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Adrastos from Bath Beach says:
The tourist helicopters need to be banned once and for all. The residents and taxpayers quality of life should be well taken into consideraton, and matter. We live here, we matter. Our waterfront parks, Govenors Island, are completely ruined by the constant roar of helicopters flying all day long. We already have enough noise and pollution on land, we DO NOT need it in the sky, and this we can help. These noisy offensive helicopters need to be banned once and for all. I do not believe they generate 33 m, that is pure BS.
The thousands of residents should matter more than 200 people witrking there. People spend a lot of money to live on the waterfront, and should NOT have to be bombarded by this constant deliberate noise all day long.
July 22, 2015, 11:14 am
Katy walker from Red hook says:
Today is hands down the worst day yet in red hook. Since 9am I've counted 50 flights. This concrete jungle is a lost cause. Why people put up with this BS and the 1 million more people that have moved here since 2005 is beyond me. Just waiting for our ticket out of here!
Sept. 6, 2015, 10:49 am
Adrastos from Bath Beach says:
^, i agree, it is terrible and no one seems to want to get rid of it. These un necessary tourist helicopters do nothing but ruin all our waterfront parks. Red Hook, on valentino pier / park, is terrible noisey all day long, I cannot even go there.
A park is supposed to be tranquil, not sound like a war zone.

what doesnt our elected official not understand. Our mayor sucks bug time, all he has to do is sign the paper, and he wont.
shame on him.
Sept. 21, 2015, 11:58 am
TOM from Sunset Park says:
Of course they just might migrate to NJ and then NYC will have nothing to say.
Feb. 1, 2016, 10:46 pm

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