Chop the Choppers Over Brooklyn Heights

Tourist helicopter flights over Brooklyn Bridge Park and Brooklyn Heights have gotten out of control.   We propose a quiet period of 4 hours per day on flights from the Downtown Manhattan Heliport.  We do not agree with the BHA’s proposal of a full ban on such flights. If you agree, please sign our petition here.  If you disagree or have ideas about a better proposal please comment below.

Let your voice be heard. Contact our local officials:
Mayor Michael Bloomberg
Public Advocate Bill deBlasio
State Senator Daniel Squadron
City Councilmember Steve Levin
NYS Assemblymember Joan Millman
U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer

Note: This is the first in a series of posts about this issue.  We will be refining our proposal based on your input.  Stay tuned.

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  • Chop the Choppers

    This is horrifying! I live on Willow Street facing the water and with the windows open, I can’t have a conversation with my husband. Not sure what the solution is, but we can’t live this way. It’s really terrible.

  • epc

    Note that not only have tourist flights moved to JRB, there’s a new “executive” heli-commuting service (

  • hoppy

    “Ride of the Valkyries” would have been the more appropriate music choice.

  • Homer Fink

    Just wait hoppy.

  • fulton ferry res

    I finally understand why so many 35 foot tall light poles were placed on Pier 1. They are obviously approach lights to the Downtown Heliport.

    Four hour quiet period??? How about four hour operating period!!!

  • nabeguy

    Having just bought my first router, I’m ecstatic at the freedom it offers me to take my laptop outside…a short-lived ecstasy apparently. For what do I hear on my first virtual trip into the wild? You guessed it, a police helicopter.

  • Homer Fink

    @epc … the commuting service is far more offensive that the tourist business. For the vast majority of tourists such a flight is a once in a lifetime experience. The commuter flights are gratuitous and most likely the preferred method of transportation of the CEOs and others who are directly responsible for the economic mess we’re in right now. And don’t get me started on the stimulus money that’s probably being used to pay for these unnecessary trips. So IF any flights are to be banned it should be the commuter flights.

  • my2cents

    The solution to this is obviously to arm heights residents with slingshots. I have written several letters to the BHA addressing this issue, but have yet to receive a reply back…

  • epc

    My understanding about the executive commuting service is that it’s a scheduled charter service …a couple of flights in the morning, a couple in the evening. Not trying to excuse it, but also I don’t believe that that was the source for Friday’s scourge of the helibirds.

    We could do a bit of socio-group-swarming and use twitter or something else to track when flights come in/take off, tag tweets with something like #jrbhelo.

  • zburch

    The increase in the HELL-icopter traffic is because tourist traffic has been diverted from Chelsea Piers to South Street. Here is the article about that: . The Hudson River Park sued the tourist companies because of the noise, and won. Now we bear the burden. This tourist traffic is far more frequent than commuters. They have flights as short as 7 minutes, fly much lower, and have many more copters. I have lived in the nabe 12 years, and have never seen traffic this dense. One after another after another circling around to look at the Statue of Liberty, up to the Bridge and back. There are a million things to do in NYC. The theater, tall buildings, boat rides, dining. Walking gives you a better sense of the city than a noisy, polluting helicopter ride. If you want to see the city from above, go to Rock Center or The ESB. The increased traffic poses a safety issue. There was a crash on the Hudson that killed 9 and one at South Street where some Italian tourists were killed. Tourists will find other ways to spend their dollars in the city. A noisy hellicopter ride that is heard by people on the Promenade, in the Park, and ricocheting off apartment buildings seems intrusive for their short-lived 7 minute pleasure trip. A trip of a lifetime?! Give me a break, visiting NYC is a trip of lifetime! How about a walk on the Brooklyn Bridge? That view is lovely! Most importantly, it is important to get the facts straight. Commuters do pose a problem, but the increase in traffic is due to the change from Chelsea Piers. This change went into effect April 1st, hence the increase this weekend. Its pretty clear they are tourist rides if you sit on the Promenade for 20 minutes and watch them take off, circle around and land and take off again.

    You are making the mistake of politicizing an issue that comes down to noise and quality of life in the neighborhood. I don’t care what they are doing, and who they are up there, I care about the increase in traffic, the noise and its effects on the neighborhood.

  • drewburch

    A four hour ban is useless. If that was to put that in place it would be in the middle of the day when the fewest amount of residents are affected. The most popular times for these flights are in the afternoons and evening. The same time that most residents would like to enjoy a walk on the promenade or a stroll through the park. Tourist helicopters and residential living are simply incompatible. The Mayor and the EDC need to admit that moving tourist flights to the east river was a terrible idea, and cancel them outright. They are completely unnecessary. Anyone that can’t have the “Trip of a lifetime” in NYC without flying in a helicopter needs to have their head examined.

  • Reggie

    “The Hudson River Park sued the tourist companies because of the noise, and won.”

    Noise may in fact be why the Hudson River Park sued, but this sentence reads like noise is also why the lawsuit was successful, which is incorrect. Language in the Hudson River Park Trust Act was key to the legal victory and there is nothing comparable here.

    That clarification notwithstanding, I agree with the sentiment (if I may paraphrase) that a ban on tourist helicopters would benefit many while disappointing few.

  • The Where

    Spoken like a true Wall Street creep Reggie.

  • Chop the Choppers

    Please go to:
    for more information about what you can do and please call 311 to lodge a complaint.

  • Billy Reno

    Two words: laser pointers!

  • kcgrace

    I agree that something has to be done about the increased traffic. I feel like I am living in a war zone. I live in Dumbo..I’ll take the noise from the Manhattan Bridge subways any day! It’s almost impossible to have the windows open.

  • Hicks-ter

    I was also disappointed to find that sitting out in the new BB Park yesterday, enjoying the sun with the Sunday paper, was not nearly as pleasant as it could have been with the helicopter drone. It seemed there was a helicopter in the sky whenever I looked up, and the noise was constant.

  • zburch

    I found the direct line to Patricia Ornst, director of Aviation at the EDC, the woman responsible for this decision. 212-312-4226 She clearly believes that “the economic impact” ($) is more important than they environmental impact of NYC citizens. She definitely didn’t want to take the time to listen to my petty complaints. The bottom line is they have to take off and land, and every time they do so it ricochets off the buildings. The east river is much narrower and more widely populated than the Hudson. Her phone # is 212-312-4226. I urge you to call and make a complaint as well as contact the Mayor’s office, Daniel Squadron, Mary M, Bill De Blasio etc etc. I am sitting here on a MONDAY listening to them buzz by about every 2 minutes. This is a drastic increase.

  • Joe

    I’m hearing it now as I work. This is terrible!

  • skandakumar

    Something needs to be done to stop this. All day everyday.

  • Monty

    I am also on Willow St facing the water with the window open. I can hear helicopters, but it’s not as loud as idling trucks or the occasional visit of that guy on the Harley-Davidson. My 1 year old has been asleep near said window for 2 hours.

  • zburch

    haha babies can sleep through anything, and they don’t have to do accounting. My concerns aren’t as much about my personal annoyance in my abode, but the general change in atmosphere in the neighborhood, on the Promenade and in the Park..public spaces where more people other than myself are affected. I also wonder how the folks working in lower Manhattan are feeling about this change?

  • AAR

    4 hours of quiet time and 20 hours of noise? Who calls that a deal? It’s not just about the new park – it’s about BH and DUMBO being subjected to the constant buzz from ‘copters carrying commuters, tourists, police or news media.

  • SK

    Are you sure all those helicopters are for tourists? In Bay Ridge which is located further south on the Narrows by the water, it’s primary the NYPD helicopters which create noise (and fly way too low). I’ve seen those noisy copters hover for as long as a half hour over a site and without the searchlight scanning, these flights seem more like joy rides than police business.

    Those cop helicopters also seem to be especially ubiquitous on nice, sunny days — like today, for instance.

  • zburch

    According to Liberty Helicopter Tours Website:
    “As of April 1st 2010 All New York City Helicopter Sightseeing Tours will be conducted from the Downtown Manhattan Heliport located at Pier 6 & the East River. Thank you and enjoy your flight.”
    “the largest helicopter sightseeing and charter service in the Northeast. Liberty Helicopters is currently the only authorized helicopter sightseeing company in New York City”

  • Homer Fink

    Not all helicopters are tourist flights. Some are NYPD or traffic choppers – they’re not part of this conversation.

    We’re talking commuter and tourist flights. And the plan we propose includes NO night flights for tourist choppers AND a 4 hour per day quiet period.

  • Chop the Choppers

    I can see these helicopters. They are not NYPD. The BHA is on this, but they need our support. Please call Patricia Ornst, director of Aviation at the EDC, the woman responsible for this decision 212-312-4226. I actually was put through to her when I called 311 or email her at and please cc: the BHA at

  • WillowtownCop

    Maybe I just live on the other side of the neighborhood, but I haven’t
    noticed any helicopters.

  • Homer Fink

    The BHA proposal IMHO is overbroad. There needs to be a sane counter proposal. Hence this thread.

    From this conversation on all sides, BHB will formulate a formal proposal.

    To do that we need your help. Keep the conversation going!

  • zburch

    Here is a video that was shot from the Promenade over a 15 minute period this Saturday. I don’t think there is any kind of reasonable compromise that involved allowing non-stop tourist traffic. As you can see, 15 minutes is bad enough!
    People can find other thrills in the city. They don’t need to take helicopter rides.