Photo credit: Matthis from Pexels

by Arline L. Bronzaft, Ph.D., Board of Directors, GrowNYC, Co-founder, The Quiet Coalition, and Honorary Chair, Quiet American Skies

Helicopter noise has long received complaints from New Yorkers, but since the start of pandemic helicopter noise complaints to 311 have increased sevenfold writes Zack Helfand in his New Yorker article “The Choppers that Ate New York.” With helicopters taking people to the JFK airport and to the Hamptons, as well as tourists interested in seeing the sights of New York City from the sky, Caroline Wood, who lives in Chelsea, believes she is “under attack.” Wood associates the overhead roars of helicopters above her building with warfare.

What do New Yorkers who feel that they are under attack by these loud overhead helicopters do? They organize and protest. And that is exactly what the group that calls itself Stop the Chop NY/NJ did on a recent Sunday. Melissa Elstein, a spokesperson for the group, explained that the group is comprised of volunteers who have used much of their free time to fight for a “federal de-helicopterized zone” so that they can get the requisite quiet in their homes to which they are entitled. Stop the Chop NY/NJ members recognize “exceptions for police, media and medevacs.”

Helfand reports about a Stop the Chop NY/NJ demonstration that took place along the Hudson, in which participants were given official organization hats and binoculars. The demonstrators shouted out “ninety-nine decibels” as one helicopter approached the landing pad and expressed their distaste at the next helicopter with “boos and thumbs down.” Then, from out of the sky a very loud helicopter approached the group, tossing some of their bicycles to the ground and bringing water down on them from the river. It was time for the group to leave, writes Helfand. But I am confident there will be further demonstrations.

Stop the Chop Ny/NJ believes that these loud helicopters pose a serious safety and security risk in addition to the adverse health effects from the noise. To learn more about Stop the Chop NY/NJ, do look at their website.