Proposed Federal Law Would Further Restrict Helicopter Flights Over New York City
Congressman Jerry Nadler and Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer stand at the Wall Street heliport to announce new federal legislation aimed at banning non-essential helicopter flights from New York skies.
For the second time in as many months, U.S. Congressman Jerry Nadler (who represents Lower Manhattan in Washington) has introduced federal legislation that would impose stricter regulations on helicopter flights over New York.
On March 7, Mr. Nadler reintroduced the Improving Helicopter Safety Act—a measure that he first sponsored in 2019, when it failed to pass. According to the Congressional Research Service, this law would “prohibit operating helicopter flights over any city with a population of over eight million and a population density of over 25,000 people per square mile, except for purposes of (1) public health and safety, including law enforcement and emergency response; and (2) heavy-lift operations in support of construction and infrastructure maintenance.”
Because New York is the only city in the United States with a population of more than eight million, and because the nation’s only municipalities with a population density of more than 25,000 people per square mile (in addition to New York City) are communities in northern New Jersey, directly adjacent to Manhattan, this bill would effectively apply only to the New York metropolitan area.
“The swarm of nonessential helicopters that fill New Yorkʼs airspace doesn’t just produce noxious noise and environmental pollution, Mr. Nadler said. “They put New Yorkers lives in danger. With 30 fatal helicopter crashes since 1982 resulting in 25 fatalities, itʼs clear that New Yorkʼs crowded skies are placing both those in the air and on the ground at risk. For years, we have called on the [Federal Aviation Administration] to impose additional regulations. Where they have failed to act to protect New Yorkers, we will not. We must prioritize residents over tourists, and put an end to these dangerously low flights over New York City.”
“The expansion and lack of regulation of helicopters is a nuisance and a safety hazard to the City that can no longer be ignored,” added Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, who is supporting Mr. Nadler’s push to restrict these sorties. “Helicopter flights in New York City largely cater to either a small slice of tourists, or a cadre of elite travelers using them as unregulated charter flights to the Cityʼs airports or to weekend destinations in the Hamptons. In either case, the result is the same, and it is never ‘essential.’ New Yorkers need transparency, safety, and an end to helicopter rides being treated as some ‘wild, wild Westʼ benefitting only tourists and the wealthy.”
Passengers aboard a “doors-off” tourist flight banking over the Brooklyn Bridge.
This action follows the January introduction by Mr. Nadler of a related measure, the “Safe and Quiet Skies Act,” which seeks to prohibit helicopter flyovers of National Parks (such as the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island), while also imposing minimum altitude maximum noise limits on all helicopter flights.
“Unfortunately, the FAA has failed to take meaningful action,” he noted. “In 2019, nearly eight thousand commercial air tours flew over the National Parks of New York Harbor, which include national treasures like the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. The large volume of commercial air tours over National Park sites are increasingly unsafe and create quality of life issues for New Yorkers and tourists through noise and negative environmental impacts.”
He continued that this proposed bill would, “place needed restrictions on commercial air tour operations. Low-flying tourist helicopters and small planes are both a nuisance and a clear danger: Itʼs time we put an end to reckless joy-rides over New York City.”
Such flights have long been a source of quality-of-life concerns among Lower Manhattan residents, who have complained for years about the incessant buzz of engines passing directly outside their windows as often as three minutes apart.
According to official data, sightseeing and tourist flights are the third leading category of fatal helicopter accidents. In 2016, the nationwide helicopter accident rate was 3.19 per 100,000 flight hours, with an overall total of 106 helicopter accidents, including 17 that resulted in loss of life.
The scene on the East River in March, 2018, where a “doors-off” flight crashed, killing all five people onboard.
Local safety worries became even more acute three years ago, after five passengers in a tour helicopter were killed when the aircraft crashed into the East River. This raised concerns separate from the immediate danger to passengers onboard such flights, which are especially resonant as the twentieth anniversary of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 approaches. What had never been publicly acknowledged before the March 2018 incident was that passengers on “doors-off” flights, who wear cumbersome safety harnesses to prevent them being ejected from the aircraft as it banks and dives, are also issued knives with which to cut themselves out of these restraints in an emergency. These blades did not save any of the passengers on the 2018 tourism flight.
In a separate (but related) development, the National Transportation Safety Board on Tuesday issued a finding that, in the 2018 incident, the “operators intentionally exploited regulatory loopholes to avoid the more robust oversight intended for revenue-passenger carrying operations, including those for commercial air tours.” This determination concluded that the tour operators deliberately and misleadingly classified the doomed excursion as “an aerial photography flight,” while, “the investigation determined the intended purpose of the flight was an air tour.”
One Act of Kindness
Matt Keating is a singer/songwriter who lives in Lower Manhattan with his wife Emily. In a recent post on Facebook, he described his friendship with a man who took shelter outside his building, and how he helped this man receive his federal stimulus check.
This is my neighbor Jamal. We became friends about a month ago when I met him taking shelter outside of my building under the construction scaffolding that’s been put up for a while now. He is currently without a home and asks politely for any help from me whenever I walk by so I started giving him something every once in a while whenever I had it. He was very grateful and we struck up a conversation about politics and the current situation of inequality in this country.
About two weeks ago, as Emily and I were leaving to do our weekly visit to the Union Square Farmers Market, he came up to us and showed us that his shoes were falling apart. His soles were flapping and it was wet out. Emily is a shoemaker so she asked if he wanted her to glue them when she had a chance. He was thankful. So we walked away but realized he needed help sooner than that so we went to the Good Will and bought him some new sneakers for $10. When we brought them to him, he cried with tears of joy and kept saying how kind we were. It made me feel good to be able to do something tangible for someone in need but I felt upset that he was still out there in the cold during this pandemic.
So when last week I saw this article about how houseless people still qualify for stimulus money I immediately thought of him. I ran out and found him very despondent. It was cold, and he seemed out of it and almost beyond help. I pulled up the article on my phone and showed it to him. He mumbled something about having tried to get the first stimulus check back when his father died last year and seemed to qualify but that he had made a mistake which made it so he couldn’t get it and so he just gave up. He had a phone and he kept trying to find the email to show me but he couldn’t find it. Finally I just told him he should go to a tax office and look into it. He asked me for change, but I didn’t have any so felt bad and kind of despairing about the futility of it all.
So imagine my surprise when today walking into my building, he ran up to me excitedly telling me how he ended up taking my advice, went to the tax office, and he is not only qualifying for the $1400 but the money from last year…$3200 in TOTAL!!! I could tell he wanted to hug me but we kept our pandemic distance. He told me that not only is he getting it, but all the guys who hang out there are getting it too. And that he won’t be having to take shelter here for very much longer. As I walked away, he said, “thanks neighbor”.
I just want to say, I’ve never felt so good about anything I’ve done in my entire life. Please, if you have any relationship with any people in this situation near you, pass on the info. Here is the article.
Qi Baishi, who lived from 1864-1959, is one of the most revered Chinese painters of all time. One of his paintings sold for $144 million in 2017, breaking world records. Join us as Ben Wang, China Institute’s beloved professor of Chinese culture, shares one of his favorite Qi Baishi works—two chicks tugging on a worm—and explains why the painter’s art still speaks to us today. Free
Menachem Kaiser’s new book Plunder: A Memoir of Family Property and Nazi Treasure is the story of his quest to reclaim his family’s apartment building in Poland—and of the astonishing entanglement with Nazi treasure hunters that follows. Kaiser’s story begins when he takes up his Holocaust survivor grandfather’s former battle to reclaim the family’s apartment building in Sosnowiec, Poland. Soon, Kaiser is on a circuitous path to encounters with the long-time residents of the building, with a Polish lawyer known as “The Killer,” and with a surprise discovery about his grandfather’s cousin that reshapes his quest.
Join Kaiser for a conversation with Stephanie Butnick, Tablet Magazine Deputy Editor and co-host of the leading Jewish podcast Unorthodox, about Plunder and the profound questions it raises about family inheritance. $10
CLASSIFIEDS & PERSONALS
Swaps & Trades, Respectable Employment, Lost and Found
Turn-of-the-season dazzle: brightest stars, vivid constellations, and rusty-gold Mars
The calendar in the night sky marks Spring Equinox evenings with the rising of golden Arcturus, the second brightest star in our sky. Sunset is at 7:11 this evening and about a minute later each day going forward.
As twilight deepens, about an hour after sunset, gold-to-red twinkling Arcturus climbs above the northeastern horizon. The great star, -0.05 magnitude, appears later over obstructed views. To be sure to locate Arcturus at any time of night, follow the diagram at the top of this page. On spring evenings, the Big Dipper can be found high in the sky from the northeast to southeast. Trace the arc of its handle down to “arc to Arcturus”.
Niou Describes Personal Response to Wave of Anti-Asian Violence
At a rally held in Lower Manhattan on Saturday, a phalanx of public officials decried the recent spate of hate crimes that have targeted Asian-Americans. The rally was spurred, in part by the murders of eight people at three massage parlors in the area of Atlanta, Georgia last Tuesday, six of whom were Asian women. But it also drew impetus from a recent series of violent (but less lethal) hate crimes in Lower Manhattan and around the City.
Ms. Low invited State Assembly member Yuh-Line Niou to speak. She began, “those women in Georgia who died looked like me, my mom, my aunts, my sister, my niece. They looked like us.”
On Friday, for the second time in three weeks, a task force of New York City sheriffs shut down an illegal bar and nightclub in Tribeca. At 11:30 pm, half a dozen sheriffs entered One Harrison Street (at the corner of Hudson Street), ordered more than 120 patrons to disperse, and arrested five of the party’s organizers, charging them with violations of emergency health orders related to the pandemic, selling liquor without a license, selling liquor to minors, and dispensing cannabis products to minors, along with various vice and health-code violations. To read more…
9/11 Victim Compensation Fund Report
More Survivors than Responders Now are Submitting Claims
The September 11th Victim Compensation Fund (VCF) has released its annual report for 2020, which documents some significant developments.
Over the course of its ten years of operation thus far, the VCF has awarded $7.76 billion to more than 34,400 individuals who have suffered death or personal injury as a result of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 and their aftermath. The vast majority of these injuries take the form of illness caused by exposure to toxic materials that were released by the destruction of the World Trade Center.
Residents Are Invited to Brainstorm about Bulwark for the Battery
As the administration of Mayor Bill de Blasio considers how to protect Manhattan’s southern tip from climate change, rising sea levels, and future extreme-weather events, City Hall is seeking community input about which options make the most sense for the Battery, the 25-acre historic park that straddles the junction between the Hudson and East Rivers.
Alliance For Downtown New York Hosts 2021 Shred-A-Thon
And Clothing Drop-Off
After a year like the one we all just endured and the promise of a brighter day emerging, the idea of “spring cleaning” takes on new energy and meaning.
Now is the time to round up all the old clothes and unwanted documents that have been piling up and bring them over to Fulton Street (between Cliff and Gold Streets) for the Downtown Alliance’s annual dual shred-a-thon and clothing drop-off Saturday, April 17 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
A shredding truck parked on Fulton Street will securely dispose of and recycle all your sensitive documents, tax receipts, junk mail and old bills.
The Alliance is also partnering with NYC clothing recycler Wearable Collections, which is providing a bin to collect all dry, used clean clothing including shoes, sneakers, belts and hats, as well as household items such as linens, towels and handbags.
Rain or shine, the Alliance will be there to dispose of your much-loved old outfits and no-longer-needed memories, minus a few items (e.g., carpeting, rugs, bath mats, comforters, pillows, large luggage). This spring will be even sweeter when you’ve got some extra space.
TODAY IN HISTORY
Jack Ruby about to shoot Lee Harvey Oswald photo: Robert Jackson
31 – First Easter, according to calendar-maker Dionysius Exiguus
421 – Friday at 12 PM – city of Venice founded
1584 – Sir Walter Raleigh renews Humphrey Gilbert’s patent to explore North America
1609 – Henry Hudson embarks on an exploration for Dutch East India Co
1655 – Christiaan Huygens discovers Titan (Saturn’s largest satellite)
1807 – First railway passenger service began in England
1811 – Percy Bysshe Shelley is expelled from the University of Oxford for his publication of the pamphlet The Necessity of Atheism.
1851 – Yosemite Valley discovered in California
1882 – First demonstration of pancake making in a department store in New York City
1916 – Women are allowed to attend a boxing match
1937 – It is revealed Quaker Oats pays Babe Ruth $25,000 per year for ads
1944 – RAF Flight Sgt Nicholas Alkemade survives a jump from his Lancaster bomber from 18,000 feet over Germany without a parachute; his fall was broken by pine trees and soft snow, and he suffered only a sprained leg
1946 – First performance of Igor Stravinsky’s “Ebony Concerto”
1954 – RCA manufactures first color TV set (12½” screen at $1,000)
1961 – Sputnik 10 carries a dog into Earth orbit; later recovered
1970 – Concorde makes its first supersonic flight (700 MPH/1,127 KPH)
1990 – Fire in illegal NYC social club, kills 87
1133 – Henry II, King of England (1154-89)
1867 – Gutzon Borglum, sculptor (Mt Rushmore)
1881 – Béla Bartok, Hungary, composer/pianist (Concerto for Orchestra)
1911 – Jack Ruby, killer of Lee Harvey Oswald (d. 1967)
1934 – Gloria Steinem, Toledo Ohio, US feminist/publisher (Ms Magazine)