Local Officials Call Meeting at Heliport to Address Chopper Noise

A bevy of local political figures, including Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez, Borough President Marty Markowitz, State Senator Daniel Squadron, Assemblymember Joan Millman, and City Councilmember Steve Levin, along with others from nearby Brooklyn areas and Manhattan, will hold a press conference tomorrow at 10:30 a.m. at the Downtown Manhattan Heliport. According to Senator Squadron’s office:

Congressman Jerrold Nadler, State Senator Daniel Squadron and other elected officials and community leaders from Manhattan and Brooklyn will join tomorrow to urge the City to reexamine regulation and enforcement of tourist helicopter traffic. After the West 30th Street Heliport ended all tourist flights last Thursday, communities in Lower Manhattan and Brooklyn Heights experienced a sudden uptick in noise from helicopter traffic at the Downtown Manhattan Heliport. The elected officials will call on the City to address the safety implications of unregulated tourist helicopter flights and the impact on quality of life in communities that experience take-offs and landings or heavy flyover traffic.

Concerned local residents are encouraged to attend this event and give support to efforts to reduce the noise. The heliport is located on a pier next to South Street northeast of Broad Street, across from the ACLU building and the New York Vietnam War Veterans Memorial Park.

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  • bornhere

    I’m with Willowtowncop on this, and maybe I’m just not understanding the issue here: is it the take-offs and landings that are the problem or the actual flight paths? According to a 1997 NYT article:
    “Helicopters were once considered a wondrous innovation for places like New York City, a convenient way to bypass clotted street traffic. But as the helicopter industry has grown over the decades, so has the grumbling about noise and safety.
    Though residents have stepped up their complaints, the number of flights has actually dropped slightly since 1990, when the figure was 164,800, officials said.”
    So was everyone immune to the flyovers 20 years ago? Or last year? If it is solely the “ups and downs,” then there is likely a difference; but since all the tour websites I checked include our area in ALL of their flights — and part of me asks who these people are who even want to “see” New York this way — it would seem that debating the location of the originating flights is the only argument vs the number or path of the flights.
    This issue may also be another testament to concern about our own little corners of the world: I’ll take the daytime helicopter noise over the 2 AM trucks barreling down Henry Street any day.
    But … good luck to those of you affected by this.

  • fulton ferry res

    Have you gone to Pier 1 in the past week? Have you watched the video that was posted on the other thread on this blog?

  • bornhere

    Yes, fulton ferry, I’ve watched Drew’s video a couple of times, and the video is really what prompted my question: it seems that the sound is at its worst when the helicopters are flying over vs landing/lifting off (and yes, it IS loud); but what I’m saying is that it seems that since ALL flights fly over Lower Manhattan and our neighborhood regardless of where they come from, this has to have been going on for years. Again, 164,000 flights in 1990 is not nothing; so all I’m asking is how this has gone on for decades without significant complaint. I do not minimize the annoyance — really. I’m just saying that the issue seems to be more about the fly-overs than the location of the heliport. (It also would have helped the video if conversations on and enjoyment of the Promenade had come to a stop — people seem to be sort of oblivious.) Again, anything that diminishes noise around us is a good thing, so I do wish us luck.

  • Karl Junkersfeld

    For those wanting to get to this demonstration via public transportation, the R train stop at Whitehall is around the corner maybe 3 blocks away or a five minute walk from this area.

    bornhere, I have a window facing the area in question and trust me, this hasn’t been going on for years. With the new helicopter outlets relocated, the traffic has increased significantly. It is now constant whereas before it was intermittent. It is the landing, takeoffs, waiting to land …..

    My cat use to hang out in my bedroom next to the open window facing the river now he is scared to death over the constant noise of the helicopters overhead.

    The tourist operations moving to downtown Manhattan has changed everything considerably. Just interview my cat, Polo.

  • Homer Fink

    I’ll be there this morning, taking a stand with Sen. Squadron.

  • zburch

    bornhere, I am wondering if you have spent much time on the Promenade over the years? When flights were taking off from the Hudson, they were going down river circling around the Statue and back (this is the 125$ 8 minute tour–the cheapest). These flights were probably one of the more popular and did not affect our nabe at all. The “around Manhattan tour” would have been flying much higher as well, so less noticeable. Now, if you observe, they leave the helipad and fly low out towards the water, around the harbor and back, flying about as high as the One Brooklyn Bridge building as they approach the helipad. Its not like they fly at high altitude up to the heliport and then do a sudden nosedive for the pad! They have to gain or lose altitude as they take off and land from the pad. Hence the low flying copters over the Promenade and the Park. But if you don’t spend much time at the Promenade or Park, or live where the noise has increased, it probably isn’t an issue for you. I also have windows that face the harbor and have lived here for some time. I can categorically tell you there has been a massive increase. As Karl says, the traffic used to be intermittent. Now it is pretty constant. I also live across from the fire station so am used to a high level of noise. At least the Fire truck provides a service for the neighborhood. I was looking forward to having the Park as a respite. So much for that!

  • epc

    The heliport seems to have a policy of landings from the north, takeoffs to the South (I know absolutely nothing about flying a helicopter, so I don’t know how wind figures in, but assume that the wind coming off the harbor has to factor in a little). On approach they appear to hug the Brooklyn shoreline at under 1000 feet and either cut over around Pier 6 to the heliport, or fly over the Brooklyn Bridge, circle back between the BB and the Manhattan Bridge, and descend once past the BB.

    Take offs almost always go to the south. The exceptions being the Marine Corps choppers and the occasional NYPD chopper.

    For me it isn’t the noise of a single copter, it’s the volume of take offs and landings. I didn’t try to keep count, but it certainly seemed that there was a constant buzz of choppers all day last Friday.

    I will say that since this discussion flared up this week it seems…quieter. I don’t know if they’ve cut back on flights, or if I’ve just gone deaf.

  • zburch

    Quite frankly, I am so worked up about this because I also see it as the Mayor completely shi**ng on Brooklyn. We finally are getting this nice park and now we are being subjected to a bunch of lazy tourists that dump on us from above.

  • Sue

    I wish I could be there in support. I live at 10 Clinton St and my 10th floor apt. faces west. There are times when the helicopter noise is so loud I can’t have a phone conversation. Sure sounds as if we’re in a war zone!

    There has to be a solution so sign me up to help.

  • Tourist

    My daughther and her husband moved to Brooklyn Heights just over a year ago. My wife and I love to visit because BH is so unique. We live in Westerville, Ohio. Forbes 15th rated small city in US known for parks, schools and raising families. I’m certainly not comparing cities but the common thread that makes these cities unique. Stand up against noise pollution and those tourist helicopers. You want to visit BH use a cab or subway. Hold fast, Brookln Heghts residents to your ideals and vision of keeping your city unique.

  • DrewBurch

    BornHere, I’m not sure where you got the idea that no one complained about helicopter noise until this week. Guiliani banned all tourist flights in the city in 2000 because of safety and noise. Every since Bloomberg reinstated those flights the issue has been discussed at BHA meetings, community board meetings and campaign stops. But this increase in traffic since April 1st has proven to be a tipping point. The situation has gone from terrible to unbearable. And people how had been just dealing with it in the past have finally gotten fed up.

    As for the video, you need to understated that those choppers in the videos were landing and taking off. That video was shot form the Promenade, directly across form the heliport. The choppers in the footage were descending from their cruising altitude to land at the heliport. If they were not landing at the DMH they would be passing over at a higher altitude.

  • David on Middagh

    I would have liked to be at the press conference (need more than one day’s notice, as I check this fine blog only a couple of times/week).

    I have my windows shut to this nice Spring day because of the helicopter noise outside at this very moment. If this doesn’t abate, I’m leaving.

  • Joe

    I actually have my windows shut as well but even through the double pane glass I can hear it unless I put on the AC. The noise is really starting to effect me since I mostly work from home. I feel like my stress level has gone up since it feels like a battle zone.

  • bornhere

    zburch, epc, drew, et al — Thanks for the added details. I have not been on the Promenade (or west of Hicks Street, actually) since April 1, so my experience is not current. Will be on my weekend To-Do List.
    Again, good luck. I hope quiet prevails.

  • T.K. Small

    As I read this thread and composed this message, countless helicopters have been murmuring away in the background. At one point I took a break to make a smoothie for breakfast and use my ultrahigh powered blender. This machine is able to crush rocks so you can imagine how loud it is. I could actually hear the helicopters above the sound of the blender!

    Also, the New York Times blog section had a piece about this issue today.


  • Homer Fink

    Mrs. Fink and I were there today as were Drewburch and zburch. Karl Junkersfeld shot video that we’ll post later on.

    I was interviewed by channel 11, NY Post, WCBS 880 and others. Hopefully the press coverage will move the needle on this issue.

    Thank you BHB readers for drawing attention to this problem. And thank you Sen. Squadron for keeping your campaign promise to “work hard” for our community. You’re a man of your word making you a rare find in NYC politics.

  • zburch

    And thank you Homer for the BHB blog. I heard that there was no one there from the BHA. Is this true?

  • Homer Fink

    zburch – Judy was not there. I’m not aware of any other board members being there.

    But we represented the Heights — you did good zburch and drew!

  • Monty

    For those of you complaining, it is mostly during the week and/or during the day? I live on Willow St near Clark, facing west and have had my windows open for the past few weeks and I have barely noticed any helicopter noise.

  • Ari


    By the time the incoming choppers are close to Clark Street, they are already making their final approaches toward Manhattan and moving away from BH

    I love on Columbia Place (right on the waterfront) and I can tell you that the incoming chopper traffic, is consistent, to the tune of every minute.

    The noise is quiet loud, but alas, Columbia Place has the BQE for a backyard, so the highway does a decent job drowning out the noise.

    But I’m with the publisher of this blog, the new chopper traffic is indeed a major noise problem and a totally unnecessary nuisance.

  • Curmudgeon

    Note to Bornhere: Why quote a 13 year old NY Times article? All of these complaints can’t be for nothing. Perhaps you should travel past Hicks Street and go to the park on Sunday morning. You can check it out for yourself and it will not have a pleasant time!

    I was in Brooklyn Bridge park on Easter Sunday morning and YOW did those helicopters make a LOT of noise. They were really disturbing. There were so many (and they were so loud) that it interrupted normal conversation.

    I must confess that until that experience, I was not convinced that the helicopters were much of a problem, but after that very unpleasant Easter morning experience, I am all for some sort of control.

  • Laura Mardiks

    I was there too today and agree that Sen. Squadron did a great job and is representing us well. Judy Stanton was unable to attend today as she had a previous commitment. The press conference was originally scheduled for next week and was rescheduled with less than 1 day of notice.