They provide a bird's eye view of the city, but sightseeing helicopters are infuriating residents from Lower Manhattan to the Upper West Side. The de Blasio administration is trying to find a compromise. NY1's Michael Scotto filed the following report.
It's the most famous skyline in the world. So it's no surprise that tourists flock to the Downtown Manhattan Heliport on the East Side to cough up at least $150 for a 15-minute ride high above the Hudson.
"We just want to be able to see it from the sky to see where we are kind of going," said one tourist.
NY1 took one of those flights this week, lifting off from a waterside heliport into the bright blue skies of Manhattan.
Our pilot, Captain John Feldan, flew up the Hudson to about 79th Street, did a U-turn and then flew back downtown. It's a ride he does multiple times a day.
However, it's a ride that annoys residents in the flight path, and it's why some City Council members are pushing legislation to ban tourist helicopters altogether.
Cheré Campbell says she hears them whenever she's inside her West 89th Street apartment.
"I feel that it is an assault," she said. "To inflict noise on people is an act of violence."
Operators say there are 40,000 flights per year. This time of the year isn't considered all that busy, but it's still quite active here, with helicopters taking off every several minutes.
The city says in 2014, there were nearly 1,300 helicopter noise complaints to 311, but only 162 of those were related to tours.
Upper West Side Council member Helen Rosenthal says that's only part of the story.
"The amount of complaints has actually gone up to my office, anyway," she said.
The de Blasio administration opposes the bill, now stalled in the City Council, and says it's trying to negotiate a compromise with operators to make the flights more bearable for residents.
As for the helicopter industry, it says 200 jobs would be scrapped if the ban were enacted.
"As I live by the path of LaGuardia Airport, I don't want to see everybody at LaGuardia and the airlines out of business because I hear a little noise every now and then," said Brian Tolbert, manager of the Downtown Manhattan Heliport.
But that noise is why this fight has become so loud.