Chopper Noise Complaints Resurgent; Squadron Demands “100% Compliance”

It won’t be news to most BHB readers, but the helicopter noise problem, which we highlighted early last April, and which was apparently at least partially resolved at the end of that month with an agreement to ban tourist helicopters from flying over Brooklyn, is still with us. Citywide media are now noticing.

New York Daily News: Residents said that after a few months of relative peace, some helicopters again started flying over despite the ban. Some of the noise comes from transportation, emergency, or traffic helicopters, which are still allowed, but residents insist they’ve spotted tourist choppers as well.

“The greatly heralded agreement has been disregarded by many pilots,” said Christa Rice, 70, of Brooklyn Heights. “It’s like a giant screw turning over and over. It comes right into your bedroom, your living room. Everywhere you are you hear it.”

The Daily News article also quotes Brooklyn Bridge Park architect Michael Van Valkenburgh as saying the choppers are “ruining the park’s ‘zen-like connection to the openness of the water'”, and State Senator Daniel Squadron as proclaiming that nothing less than “100% compliance” with the April agreement concerning tour choppers is acceptable. In addition, the article notes complaints coming from Red Hook as well as Brooklyn Heights.

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  • Rick

    So many people in New York City are inconvenienced compared to the few people who ride in them. And its not like tourist helicopters create a lot of jobs in the city as a rationale to allow all that noise pollution. I really do wonder why the city allows so many non-essential helicopters.

  • Angela Zyskowski

    Helicopter noise in Carroll Gardens has been a problem for years, especially in the morning hours when 1 or more news choppers will hover for 10 to 45 minutes observing a backup on the BQE.

    On one occasion when it was not still dark (!) and I could see the news station represented on the side of a chopper, I tuned in to that TV station. During their hour-long broadcast, they devoted about 15 seconds to this traffic situation: a large pothole on the Gowanus Expwy. To those of us who know the Gowanus/BQE, this was NOT news. Furthermore, the shot could have been taken by the chopper in 30 seconds and stored for airing. Instead, they hovered for over 25 minutes with deafening noise over our heads.

    When 3 choppers are up there looking at the same traffic backup, or filmmakers are passing over and over the same spot to get their shot, the noise is terrible.

    I feel very badly for those with babies, or those who have worked night shifts and need to sleep during the day.

    We need to keep the pressure on all of those using helicopters over the city to stop ruining our quality of life. They must create a demand for quieter flying machines or different ways to conduct their business.

    We won’t give up our demand for this intolerable noise to stop.

  • Martin Schneider

    Let us remember (and keep in mind) that it was Mayor Bloomberg himself who stoutly defended the flying tourists as an important financial ingredient in the city’s visitors’ budget. This is worth boring into.
    Let’s see how the facts add up when balancing the holy tourist dollars against the daily well-being and and quality of life of tens of thousands of New Yorkers and park goers.
    Squadron is on the right track here and should keep up the pressure. This problem has plagued us for many, many years. It would be great if he could fix it.

  • Walter Seltzer

    I am on 94th and 3rd Ave. in Brooklyn. There are times – usually between 4 and 5 AM – where the traffic helicopters and news helicopters fly over my home so low, you’d think the pilots want to come in for breakfast. There is no reason the pilots cannot stick to the shoreline rather than cross over residential homes going from one spot to the other. I guess it would be too much to ask for the president to follow the river from JFK to manhattan.

  • Jef

    How much money could be possibly made on these noisy tourist things.
    Would Our mayor Dumberg like these helicopters flying over his apartment. How would he handle that.

  • Homer Fink

    DVR alert: Sen. Squadron and I will be on the WPIX-TV new tonight at 10pm talking about the issue along with a guest appearance by “Baby Fink”.

  • Johny

    Yes I noticed more traffic recently in the colombia street aream unacceptable!

    I command Sen. Squadron to help us on this quality of life issue!

  • epc

    Would it help to gather the complaints somewhere?

    I’ve put together a Google Form:

    Captures date, time, location observed, whether it was a NYPD, Tourist, News or USCG and some other information. If someone else already has something like this then I’ll close this form and redirect people to that form.

    I’ll give read-only access to the resulting spreadsheet to anyone who requests it, contact

  • Homer Fink

    @epc email me at webmaster AT brooklynheightsblog and we’ll coordinate.

  • bornhere

    I think that most of the noise concerns are valid; but it would seem that the focus of this should be on the “tourcopters”; to complain about or broad-brush all helicopter noise, eg, from traffic/news/PD-aviation activity, might diminish the strength of the issue and suggest that BH residents just can’t accept the realities of living very near a major roadway, in an urban setting, etc. I also think that “storing” tape of a backup or emergency event does nothing to help drivers know what the current situation is.
    For anyone who drives on the BQE (or wherever), updates on difficult traffic conditions are valuable, especially during normal rush hours. I doubt that PD/traffic/news agencies just hover to piss us off.

  • epc

    How much visualization does a driver need to enhance “the right lane is blocked at cadman plaza/atlantic avenue” or “truck, promenade, collision”? Do they lack that much imagination that they need a play-by-play from the air?

    As far as the tourist choppers go, I’ve seen fewer during the day than over the summer, however I’ve noticed that instead of just circling in to land, they now circle up to the bridge, then back down to a midpoint between Manhattan and Governor’s Island, and then land (descending all the way).

  • David on Middagh

    Tourist choppers are an abomination, and news choppers abuse their privilege.

  • Arch Stanton

    What a bunch of whiners. Choppers along with sirens, garbage trucks, honking cars, etc are a fact of life here. Move back to the suburbs if you can’t take the noise of the city.

  • David on Middagh

    @AS: These are the suburbs. Or, were. It’s a continuing battle to keep the worst excesses of midcity life from making our neighborhood their home. Why, my street is missing a whole block where an expressway was run through it. And that, I’m told, was a compromise!

  • tb

    I have to agree with AS… what a bunch of whiners. And by the way, BH is not the suburbs.

  • Homer Fink

    This is about the agreement the operators made with the EDC and the city and the fact that they’re not honoring it.

    Noise created by sanitation trucks, normal traffic and regular city life come with the territory when you live in Brooklyn.

    However, a gratuitous amount of tourist helicopter flights is above and beyond this expectation. Still a “first world problem” but a nuisance nevertheless.

  • Johny

    TO Arch Stanton:

    You must an old fart

  • tb

    I’m surprised everyone can hear the choppers over all the whining.
    Let’s all take a trip to Juarez, Mexico for a little perspective shall we?
    Or perhaps Sierra Leone. Seriously… AZ… you feel badly for people with babies? Or those who work at night? At least those people have jobs… and CHOOSE to live here. I’m off to the prominade now to enjoy the beautiful view. Have fun with your complaining!

  • Arch Stanton

    @ Johny, If you’re going to insult the Arch, please use complete sentences.

  • Arch Stanton

    @ David on Middagh, No Brooklyn Heights is not the suburbs, not even close. Are you actually complaining that the BQE is routed around the heights instead of through it?

  • David on Middagh

    @Arch Stanton: Have you seen this blog’s subtitle recently? Jest chuckin’.

  • Gimpy

    Well, the bickering is drowning out the whining, which is drowning out the helicopter noise.

  • David on Middagh

    And now the kibbitzing is drowning out the bickering that was obscuring the whining which was hiding the helicopter noise!

  • tb

    and such was the house that Homer built……

  • Homer Fink

    @tb – it’s funny since it’s a pretty binary issue – either you’re bothered by the choppers or not. either the operators are complying with the EDC edict or not.

  • tb

    Should the tourist helicopters be ignoring the ban? Of course not. It’s the tone of the reactions that I personally find a little entitled. That’s all. (and yes, I’m guilty of posting more than my fair share of complaits myself)
    I love BHB. Seriously.Thank you for all your efforts.

  • David on Middagh

    Hey, tb: I don’t know if you were talking about my own reaction, but I don’t think it’s “entitlement” to say that, of all the regular inconveniences of city life that have hit the Heights in the twenty years I’ve been here, only two have made me wish shoulder-mount rocket launchers were legal and that I owned one: the external alarm system of PS8 (back in the day), and hovering helicopters.

  • tb

    No, David.. it’s a general entitlement. Still, the choppers should abide by the rules.