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Mary Hynes to Lead Helicopter Forum

by ARLnow.com | September 20, 2010 at 3:43 pm | 4,342 views | 26 Comments

Arlington County board member Mary Hynes will lead a panel discussion about helicopters and local helicopter regulations Wednesday night at the Arlington County Board Room (2100 Clarendon Blvd, third floor).

Hynes, who chairs the Aviation Policy Committee for the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments, says there has been a noticeable uptick in complaints about helicopter noise in the past couple of years. She says Wednesday’s forum will allow residents to learn more about the rules that govern helicopter flights in the national capital region.

Hynes says she hopes the forum will also lead to the development of a better system for handling citizen complaint about helicopters, especially military helicopters, which are the most prevalent over Arlington.

“The focus is to have a good conversation about the impacts of the helicopter traffic on the residents, and see if there’s some way we can work with the military to lessen that impact,” she said.

Military helicopters usually fly defined routes from the Pentagon to other military installations. The flight paths are typically major highways like I-395 or waterways like the Potomac River. Even if the helicopters pilots stick to the path, however, they sometimes fly lower than they’re supposed to, irking residents.

Homeland Security and local law enforcement flights are also fairly common around Arlington, Hynes noted. News helicopters typically don’t fly over Arlington because the county is within a no-fly zone around Reagan National Airport, put into place after 9/11.

Panel participants will include military representatives, a Federal Aviation Administration regional administrator and a member of the Fairfax County board of supervisors. Fairfax County, Hynes says, has recently seen a significant increase in helicopter-related complaints.

Most of the two hour forum will be devoted to panel discussions. A resident question and answer session may be held at the end.

Hynes said a major priority will be to facilitate the creation of a unified, well-publicized phone number that residents can call to complain ab0ut helicopter noise. She expects that such a number would likely be run by the military.

The forum is being held from 7:00 to 9:00 Wednesday night. A video from the event is expected to be posted on the internet a few days after the forum.

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  • TGEoA

    I misread that as “Mary Hynes to leap from Helicopter”.

    Wishful thinking I guess. But while I’m at it, I should have been wishing for it to be Zimmie instead.

    • Al

      That is just mean and spiteful. As my mother said, if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all. I guess that is just wishful thinking…

  • G

    I see government helicopters fly over several times a week. I can’t recall ever hearing them from inside my condo, and when outside the noise rarely lasts longer than 10-20 seconds… even when flying low. What’s the big deal? This should be expected when living so close to the Nation’s Capital.

    • NPGMBR

      Exactly. I was thinking the exact same thing. 20 seconds tops and people are moaning. I hear the choppers too in my apartment and it doesn’t bother me one bit.

  • Shawn

    WE LIVE NEXT TO THE PENTAGON…WHAT DO YOU EXPECT!

    • http://blacknell.net/dynamic/ MB

      Why are you shouting? Is there a helicopter going by?

      • Katie

        hahaha

  • HeloMan

    Just be glad you don’t live between Davidson AF at Belvoir and Ft AP Hill. We do military testing in UH-1 and UH-60′s that fly low at 4AM (and all other times) that takes us directly over people’s houses.

    • Sue Ackerman

      HeloMan,
      Why do you fly over at 4 am? I heard it last night for about 15 minutes, with the chopper flying in circles. Is this necessary over residential areas that early in the morning?

      Sue

  • Lou

    I see them 2 or 3 times a week going west over 66 at night. Can’t really say if it’s military, medical or whatever. Occasionally on Sunday afternoon the Presidential flight will come back into town over my place as well. What’s the big deal?

    I wonder if United Technologies still keeps a few of their Blackhawks at DCA. They used to give joyrides to lobbyists and such, although that probably ended after 9/11.

  • John

    The biggest offenders in our neighborhood are the president’s helicopters that fly giant circles on what I assume to be a “we’re ready when you need us” mission.

  • Let’s Be Free

    There are security issues. High profile assets (including one in particular) use decoys and follow variable, unpredictable routes to make life difficult for anyone out there who might want to cause grievous harm.

    Our family loves it when we here the “thump, thump, thump” of a helo. We stick our heads outside and crane our necks to see if we can’t decipher whose bird is it.

  • TVmercenary

    I’ve flown in helicopters in this area for more than 10 years as a TV news and production camera operator. Sadly news choppers can no longer get to the news but that’s another story. I’ve flown with the area’s best pilots. One now flies medical helicopters in the area. They’ve told me what the real regulations are and what are the best practices including being as considerate as possible to people below. One myth: minimum altitudes. Helicopters do not fly under the same rules as fixed wing aircraft. The only altitude rule is to be safe to those on the ground, no minimums. The airspace around National requires that helicopters transiting the approach/departure patterns fly above or under the paths. Please look at this link: http://skyvector.com/?ll=38.88650674105427,-77.09686261460251&chart=203&zoom=3 It shows the suggested helicopter routes used by pilots and announced to National tower and other aircraft in the area. Also note the little numbers with a line over the numbers. That is the maximum altitude for flying in that area. One popular route coming from Northern Virginia to the Washington Hospital Center is low over Georgetown between the prohibited areas on the Mall and Vice Presidential Mansion. Most flights are very necessary: medical helicopters are saving lives, police looking for law breakers, news choppers surveying traffic jams and pictures of breaking news, and military doing what military does (I hope joyriding is kept to minimum and that top brass select more environmentally friendly means for routine travel). I would ask that unnecessary hovering and circling be kept at a minimum.

  • el fat kid

    Ghetto Birds!

  • BK

    I live near 395 and Rt. 7 and they seem to fly around at all hours of the night. A few months ago one was flying in circles at 2 A.M. for no apparent reason for about 30 mins,I don’t think it was police. I have a two year old who is in love with airplanes and helicopters so during the day I don’t mind because it something to look at but when it wakes us all up it does get annoying.

  • Swamperro

    I live in the Yorktown neighborhood and military helicopters fly over constantly. WHERE are they going and WHY can’t they drive? I really would like to know. What is the justification for the low-flying, the noise, the expense and, God forbid, the potential safety issues related to military craft? FWIW – it’s rarely the medical or news aircraft where I live.

  • Hikin’ the pike

    Maybe she and the congressmen with the long-haul flights can get together and only have one set of hearings that will go nowhere.

  • surely

    people want to live near the City and have jobs as part of the defense machine but don’t want helicopters. they want to ride Metro and have a seat during rush hour. people want to drive on 66 and 395 without HOV restrictions. everyone wants to live in clarendon and eat there but not let anyone else come by car.
    we live in a government town in a military-oriented suburb that is highly dense and packed. most of the helicopters near me are looking for old people who have walked away from the JEfferson or Sunrise retirement homes. It is all in days work. Chill.

    • Hikin’ the pike

      Well said.

  • ae

    I haven’t been bothered by the helicopters, but my office looks over the Potomac and I’m constantly amazed how many military helicopters are going back and forth. How much of this is really needed? Are there that many generals and diplomats that really deserve ferrying around by helicopter? If it’s training missions, I would think there are better places to do it than above the nation’s (populated) capitol.

  • Dave

    Like others have said, if you want to live in a quite little town, move out to Warrenton. This is a highly dense area with A LOT going on. Arlington County is basically a city for all intents and purposes, it’s going to be noisy.

    As for, “WHERE are they going and WHY can’t they drive?” Have you driven around here? If the person is high-ranking enough to warrant a helicopter, they probably have better things to do then spending half their day in traffic.

    • RuralGuy

      Ha, I grew up in a mostly rural part of Virginia (Southside Penninsula). The people behind our house had a backhoe and were always out with chainsaws or construction power equipment doing something. The guy one lot down to the back raced stock cars at the local speedway track and was always out running his (very loud) race car engines. The smell of various vehicle fluids was always competing with the honeysuckle.

  • Josh S

    Yes, we do live in a busy area. Nonetheless, that’s no reason not to have a conversation about how to accommodate differing needs. And yes, of course some of the flights are critical – medivac helicopters, etc. But the endless military helos are quite annoying after awhile. Should be an interesting discussion. Hopefully the citizens of Arlington can learn something and hopefully their civil servants will listen to their concerns and perhaps offer a solution or two.

    • alebt

      This topic has provoked much hand ringing in Fairlington over the last 20 years that I have paid attention issue. I must be deaf as I am not bothered as much as many of my neighbors seem to be. It would be nice to have a central number to call throughout the area and then a reporting mechanism of the number of calls that come in along with the location and relation to the type of trip (or cause), but who will pay for that?? It would be nice to know if the problem is localized for a small number of citizens or if it really is a larger problem. For my area, the number of overhead flights has been reduced significantly in the last ten years for the reasons stated above.

  • Billy

    Let’s have the President stay in the White House and work on the jobs problem and stop flying off to campaign for his loser colleagues. That will cut down on a considerable percentage of copter flights around here.

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