Castle Williams

Hearing to Stop Tourist Helicopters Over Island

If you have been to Governors Island at all in the last few years, you will notice the constant and incessant buzzing of tourist helicopters. These take off and land approximately every two minutes, seven days a week, directly across from Governors Island at the heliport next to the Battery Maritime Building. They frequently violate the airspace over the National Landmark and fly much lower than rules state. In November a hearing is being held by New York City on the problem.

This is not a seasonal problem, when the island is open May-September. Don’t forget that the New York Harbor School, open during the school year, is also part of the island. This award-winning high school must contend with this disruptive noise during school hours.

We were alerted by the Governors Island Alliance executive director, Connie Fishman, to an important hearing coming up on November 12. She writes:

Please join us at the City Council hearing on helicopter noise to express your support for the proposed legislation to eliminate sightseeing flights over Governors Island and the NY Harbor. This may be our only chance to express our opinions and show our support of the Island we all love so much. Imagine a summer without the constant drone of helicopters non-stop, day after day. Help us make this a reality.

This is a vitally important issue for all of us that love New York Harbor and Governors Island.

The New York City Council’s Committee on Environmental Protection will be having a hearing on tourist helicopters on Thursday, November 12, at 1:00 pm in City Hall Chambers. The bills by Council Members Menchaca, Rosenthal, and Chin will do the following:

Int. 859-2015 prohibits the operation of Stage 1 and Stage 2 sightseeing helicopters, the loudest and most polluting helicopter types in use.

Int. 858-2015 prohibits the operation of Stage 3 sightseeing helicopters, subject to approval by the U.S. Secretary of Transportation.

A rally will be held at noon on Thursday, November 12, directly before the hearing in support of regulating the disruptive tourist helicopters. Please RSVP to Sarah Mallory, Legislative Director, Office of Council Member Helen Rosenthal, Council District 6 at [email protected].

There is a great campaign called Stop the Chop (use hashtag #stopthechop) that we’ve been backing all year. Their stated mission is “a 501(c)(3) tax exempt grassroots organization formed with the purpose of educating the public about the dangers to health, the environment and national security presented by the ceaseless helicopter sightseeing tours that fly over New York Harbor and the Lower Hudson River.”

Follow the Governors Island Alliance on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Their official website is here.

Kevin C. Fitzpatrick has written and edited seven books with ties to New York history, including "The Governors Island Explorer's Guide" and "World War I New York: A Guide to the City’s Enduring Ties to the Great War." Kevin is a licensed sightseeing guide and has been leading walking tours since 1999. He resides in Manhattan.