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January 19, 2021
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News + Views

Choppers Plague Red Hook

By Lisa M. Collins
Tourist helicopters fly over buildings in Red Hook every 5 minutes on a recent morning.
Photo by Joshua Kristal

It’s illegal for helicopters to fly over land in New York City. But you wouldn’t know that if you lived in Red Hook.

Residents along the waterfront areas of Red Hook have been plagued over the past month with the loud drone of nearly constant helicopter traffic; on nice mornings the choppers, mostly tourist flights leaving from South Street Seaport and flying over Governor’s Island and the Statue of Liberty, pass overhead as frequently as every five minutes (State Sen. Daniel Squadron has announced a protest rally for Sunday. See details below).

South Brooklyn Post watched helicopters flying over buildings on a recent May morning near Wolcott Street.

Last year the big story was the helicopter noise vexing residents of Brooklyn Heights, who complained just as loudly as the choppers flying overhead. In response to the protest, local politicians including Sen. Daniel Squadron negotiated a deal with the city Economic Development Corporation and the helicopter companies to move the helicopter flights. And now, it seems that their loop is taking them over Red Hook.

“This weekend, the flights were non-stop,” said Red Hook resident Todd Bonne. “Flights have continued to increase with the spring weather. Every three to four minutes, it seems. The noise permeates the entire neighborhood.

“The Valentino pier park, PS15 elementary school and the Urban Meadow are all epicenters for this helicopter noise. We walked over to the end of Wolcott St on Sunday morning and counted 15 helicopters passing over between 10:30 a.m. and 11 a.m.  Many of them passing directly above land. The others passed a few feet from the shoreline. I think the general consensus among people I’ve talked to in the neighborhood is that these flights need to be moved far away from our coast or just shut down.

“Brooklyn Heights had the flight path moved. The west side of Manhattan had the heliport closed. We should not be stuck with these flights.”

Bonne said the deal the EDC cut with local politicians “is having no effect.”

“Even if the helicopters fly a few feet past the shoreline the sound still is magnified through our community.”

Alex DeLisi, from Sen. Squadron’s office, said that residents must call 311 and file a report, especially if the chopper is flying over land. DeLisi said that one change in the rules, as part of the recent deal with helicopter companies, allows for helicopter pilots to be fined if they are found to violate the rules, such as flying over land.

“We can’t do anything without a 311 tag,” DeLisi said. “We’ll follow up on it.”

Jerry Armer, president of the community council for the 76th Precinct, and a longtime community leader, said the helicopter noise is non stop.

“The number of helicopters has increased exponentially,” Armer said. “But we do live in New York City, and its hard to get rid of helicopters.

“But when they sit over your house….”

In response—Sen. Squadron is holding a rally on Sunday, along with Congressman Nadler, Congresswoman Velazquez, State Senator Montgomery, Assemblywoman Millman, Councilmember Levin & Councilmember Lander. “Stop the Chop: Rally to End Tourist Helicopter Noise in Brooklyn.”

Sunday, May 15, 1 p.m. Pier 6, Brooklyn Bridge Park, at the end of Atlantic Ave.

Rain or Shine. If you have any questions, please contact Senator Squadron’s office: 718-875-1517 or


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