The federal government says it will direct helicopters to fly higher and on new paths to spare residents of Arlington and neighboring locales from excessive noise.
These changes respond to years of noise complaints about helicopters buzzing overhead, many of which are going to and from the Pentagon.
The new measures were announced yesterday (Tuesday) morning at a press conference at the Fairlington Community Center. The event featured remarks from elected officials, federal agency representatives and the helicopter industry, which were later included in a press release from U.S. Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.).
“Since I took office over eight years ago, helicopter noise has been a constant source of complaints from constituents across Northern Virginia,” Beyer said in a statement. “Here in the nation’s capital with military, medical, commercial and other aviation, aircraft noise will always be with us — but there are things we can do to help reduce the impact on residents.”
He said the actions taken yesterday directly respond to community input.
“I thank the many people whose efforts helped inform the actions we are announcing today, as well as our partners across levels of government who are acting to reduce helicopter noise in Northern Virginia,” he said.
Meanwhile, a system for logging complaints — developed last year from recommendations in a 2021 Government Accountability Office (GAO) report — will be sticking around so residents can continue filing complaints.
Arlington County and neighboring jurisdictions will jointly pay to keep the complaint system operating.
Local elected officials in attendance included Arlington County Board members Katie Cristol, Matt de Ferranti and Takis Karantonis and Vice-Chair Libby Garvey, who gave a speech.
“We are especially pleased that our residents could participate meaningfully in this process, and now will continue to,” she said. “In a democracy it is crucial that people have a voice in how their government affects them.”
Alexandria Mayor Justin Wilson said the system is “far more than a nicety to assuage frustrated residents.”
“This tool gathered data that was used by the [Federal Aviation Association] to make important changes that will mitigate helicopter noise across our region,” he said. “Our residents weren’t just listened to — they were heard.”
The FAA reviewed data the system collected last year as well as studied by the GAO, Arlington and Montgomery counties, and the Dept. of Defense, which suggested helicopters could fly higher.
After studying this body of work, the FAA and the Helicopter Association International decided to draft new, higher flight patterns.
“It’s amazing what we can accomplish when we’re all in the same room with the same access to information and working toward the same goal,” Deputy Assistant Administrator for the Federal Aviation Administration’s Office of Policy, International Affairs and Environment Peter Hearding said in a statement.
Jeff Smith, Chair of the Helicopter Association International Board of Directors, agreed.
“Best practices from this program, along with the data collected from this new initiative, can and will make a noticeable difference in this community,” he said. “This pilot program is a perfect case study for how government and industry can work together to address issues and deliver tangible results.”
In his remarks, the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Real Property, Ronald Tickle, said the Pentagon is committed to being a good neighbor.
“The Department looks forward to further collaboration to mitigate helicopter noise in the National Capital Region, while continuing to meet mission requirements,” Tickle said.
Two suspects led authorities on a three-hour-long pursuit by land and by water overnight.
The chase started around 1 a.m. in Crystal City, when a Virginia State Police trooper spotted a car with improper tags, which then fled from an attempted traffic stop. The chase made its way onto I-395 near the Pentagon, where the suspect’s car struck a police cruiser, according to Virginia State Police, after which the suspects fled on foot, chased by troopers.
The suspects ran toward Long Bridge Drive and eventually reached Roaches Run, where “the two subjects jumped into the water and began swimming” toward the GW Parkway, said VSP. A perimeter was established around the area and both the Fairfax County police and U.S. Park Police helicopters were called in to assist with the search for the suspects, who were by then trying to hide.
Arlington police and Park Police assisted on the ground during the incident.
Eventually, the suspects were spotted and, at 2:30 a.m., the Arlington County Fire Department’s water rescue team was dispatched to Roaches Run. The suspects were suffering from exposure to the cold water and were taken to a local hospital after being taken into custody by state troopers on an ACFD boat just before 4 a.m.
Update on 4/21/23 — Virginia State Police have released the following update on the investigation into Wednesday’s early morning chase, naming a male suspect who is now facing charges. A second, female vehicle occupant is so far not reported to be facing charges.
At approximately 12:59 a.m. Wednesday (April 19), a Virginia State Police Trooper alerted to a two-door Chrysler displaying improper registration (wrong license plates). When the trooper activated his emergency lights and sirens to attempt a traffic stop at 18th St. and S. Crystal Dr., the Chrysler refused to stop and sped away. A pursuit was initiated. The pursuit continued north on I-395 at which time state police attempted to contain the Chrysler as it was traveling on the right shoulder. The Chrysler struck one of the trooper’s vehicles, which caused both vehicles to spin around and collide a second time. The driver and passenger of the Chrysler then fled the scene on foot. With the assistance of Arlington County Police and Fairfax County Police resources, a search perimeter was established.
At approximately 1:55 a.m., troopers spotted the two subjects hiding near Roaches Run. As the troopers approached, the two subjects jumped into the water and began swimming across Roaches Run towards the GW Parkway. The U.S. Park Police responded to assist state police as the two subjects hid in the water to avoid detection and arrest.
Arlington County Fire and Rescue deployed its water rescue team and an adult male and a 23-year-old female were located and taken into custody without further incident. They were both transported to a nearby hospital for treatment due to their exposure to the cold water temperatures.
Bryant R. Mayo, 26, of Washington, DC, was charged with one felony count of eluding law enforcement and one felony charge of leaving the scene of a crash.
The incident remains under investigation.
While you slept: Here's the @VSPPIO chase from Crystal City that crashed on I-395N. 2 from the car ran through woods & then swam in Roaches Run to escape. It didn't work. Both hospitalized for exposure. @ARLnowDOTcom @SafetyVid @RealTimeNews10 #police #traffic #395cam #crime pic.twitter.com/hwsctywjSP
— Dave Statter (@STATter911) April 19, 2023
update: Fairfax and Eagle helicopters are searching for the females who fled troopers in a chase on I-395 after they crashed. They are in the marsh at Roaches Run. Fireboats coming too. @ARLnowDOTcom @HelicoptersofDC h/t @HCBright10 https://t.co/pgM4S4ydTy pic.twitter.com/3LEwD0u28z
— Alan Henney (@alanhenney) April 19, 2023
A pair of suspects, armed with a knife and a gun, robbed a man along Columbia Pike early Sunday, prompting an aerial search.
The robbery was reported just after 2:30 a.m. on the 3700 block of Columbia Pike.
“Upon arrival, it was determined the victim was exiting his parked vehicle when two unknown male suspects approached him, brandished a firearm and a knife, and demanded his personal property,” Arlington County police said today in a crime report. “The suspects then stole the victim’s wallet and jewelry and assaulted him before fleeing the scene on foot. Officers canvassed the area and an aerial search was conducted with the assistance of a police helicopter which yielded negative results.”
No injuries were reported, ACPD said.
UPDATE: The aerial search concluded with negative results. Officers remain in the area investigating. Additional incident details will be available on Monday's Daily Crime Report:https://t.co/lW5Fb7SXXx
— ArlingtonCountyPD (@ArlingtonVaPD) February 5, 2023
A boy who was running on the Custis Trail near Ballston was stabbed and seriously injured by an unknown assailant Saturday night.
The stabbing happened around 8:45 p.m., on the trail near the 4700 block of Washington Blvd.
“At approximately 8:49 p.m. on August 27, police were dispatched to the report of a stabbing that had just occurred,” Arlington County police said today in a crime report. “Upon arrival, officers located the juvenile male victim and administered medical care until the arrival of medics. The victim was transported to an area hospital with injuries considered serious but non-life threatening.”
“After further investigation, it was determined the victim was running along the Custis Trail prior to Washington Boulevard when an unknown male suspect allegedly approached, stabbed him and fled the scene on foot,” ACPD said.
Officers closed a portion of Washington Blvd west of N. Glebe Road and called in a helicopter to help search for the suspect. Ultimately, the suspect — described only as “an Asian or Hispanic male wearing a striped shirt and shorts” — was not found and remains at large.
“A lookout for the suspect was broadcast and a search of the area was conducted, with the assistance of a police helicopter, which yielded negative results,” said the crime report. “The investigation is ongoing.”
POLICE ACTIVITY: ACPD is investigating a stabbing in the 4700 block of Washington Blvd. The male victim was transported to a hospital with non-life threatening injuries. A helicopter is assisting with an aerial search for the suspect. Expect continued police activity in the area. pic.twitter.com/QqzkQgAxPZ
— ArlingtonCountyPD (@ArlingtonVaPD) August 28, 2022
New Way to Complain About Helo Noise –Those with concerns about helicopter noise in the local area now have a new outlet to provide feedback. A new helicopter-complaint pilot program was announced June 24 by U.S. Rep. Don Beyer (D-8th) in collaboration with the Helicopter Association International and Eastern Regional Helicopter Council. Residents will be able to submit noise concerns online at https://www.planenoise.com/dcmetro/, or by voicemail at (877) 209-3200.” [Sun Gazette, Press Release]
Arrest After Crash on the Pike — From ACPD spokeswoman Ashley Savage, responding to an ARLnow inquiry about this crash: “At approximately 12:10 p.m. on June 27, police were dispatched to the report of a crash with injuries at the intersection of Columbia Pike and S. Quincy Street. The preliminary investigation indicates the driver of the striking vehicle hit two vehicles and a tree before fleeing the scene on foot. Responding officers canvassed the area, located the driver and took her into custody. One patient was transported to an area hospital with injuries considered non-life threatening. The investigation is ongoing and charges are pending.”
Amazon Eyes Greenhouse for HQ2 — “The greenery proposed for Amazon’s second headquarters in Arlington is so extensive that the company needs a greenhouse to keep it going. According to plans submitted to the county, Amazon hopes to convert Meadow Farms Nurseries and Landscapes (10618 Leesburg Pike) in Great Falls into a greenhouse to provide a ‘permanent operation to provide for the continuous maintenance of the extensive landscaping elements’ at HQ2.” [FFXnow]
APS Website Redesign Coming — “We are in the early stages of redesigning our website. Can you spare 15 minutes to help make sure the new Arlington Public Schools website will be easy for everyone to use? We’ve set up an online exercise to gather feedback, and we’d love for you to participate.” [Arlington Public Schools]
It’s Tuesday — Partly cloudy throughout the day. High of 79 and low of 61. Sunrise at 5:47 am and sunset at 8:39 pm. [Weather.gov]
A helicopter flying at a low altitude over the Arlington-Alexandria border is nothing to worry about, according to Arlington County.
“The Arlington County Emergency Communications Center has received many calls regarding a low flying helicopter along Four Mile Run Creek,” the county said in an Arlington Alert this morning. “The FAA is aware and has given permission for a contractor to conduct this flight.”
Concern about the mysterious chopper has also been registered on the Alexandria side of the border.
Random helicopter in Alexandria by 4 Mile Run. #alexandria #arlington #helicopter pic.twitter.com/6JDPO7PYPI
— Oleksandr Faryga (@OFaryga) February 23, 2022
The helicopter belongs to a Utah company called TXPX Aircraft Solutions, according to the FAA. A 2020 post from a New Jersey locality’s website suggests that it’s used for inspecting power transmission lines.
“The helicopter will be flying at a speed of about 35-40 mph above or alongside the lines and may circle around for a closer inspection,” that post said. “The helicopter is black with red [lettering and] tail number N500LK.”
As seen in the photos and video above, there are power transmission lines that indeed run along Four Mile Run and the W&OD Trail.
N500LK, a Mcdonnell Douglas 369-E, is circling over Douglas Park, Arlington at 500 feet, speed 77 MPH, squawking 5226, 0.0 miles from South 4-Mile Run Community Garden https://t.co/AsrciY91li pic.twitter.com/YNOSB80WXz
— Advisory Circular DC (@SkyCirclesDC) February 23, 2022
James Cullum contributed to this report
Fundraiser for Westover Barber — “A barber at a beloved #ArlingtonVA barber shop needs help while he undergoes radiation and chemo.” [GoFundMe, Twitter]
Covid Officially on the Rise — “Arlington County, like much of Virginia, is now seeing a HIGH level of community transmission. It is recommended everyone age 2 and up wear a mask in indoor public spaces, regardless of vaccination status.” [Twitter]
Santa Returning to Cherrydale — From the Cherrydale Volunteer Fire Department: “It is t-minus 3 days until that jolly old elf himself, Santa Claus, joins us for our parades through Cherrydale! Are you ready? We will be parading through North Cherrydale on Thursday, December 9th, and then South Cherrydale on Friday, December 10th. Both parades will take place from 6-8pm.” [Facebook]
Home Stretch for Big Bell Project — “The Netherlands Carillon has reached the final stages of a massive renovation project which brought the addition of three new bells and the retuning of the existing bells, making it a ‘Grand Carillon.'” The Carillon is currently expected to reopen in the spring. [WUSA 9]
Report: Metro Errors After Fatal Stabbing — “An investigation into Metro’s actions during the Aug. 3 stabbing incident at the Pentagon Transit Center determined that Metrorail failed to establish an on-scene command center and did not communicate effectively with its personnel at the Pentagon Station during the emergency. These delays led to a 13-minute gap between the report of an active shooter situation and the evacuation of the Pentagon Station platform. In addition, Metro lost track of station personnel during the emergency.” [Patch]
Helicopter Called in for Shirlington Sexual Assault — Updated at 8:45 a.m. — According to Arlington County police this morning, a suspect was arrested last night in the following case: “4200 block of 31st Street S. At approximately 2:57 a.m. on December 7, police were dispatched to the report of trouble unknown. The investigation determined that the known suspect sexually assaulted the known victim. Officers located the suspect in the area and he fled on foot. A perimeter was established and the area was searched with the assistance of the United States Park Police helicopter. The suspect was not located and the investigation is ongoing.” [ACPD]
Little Snow Expected Today, After All — From the Capital Weather Gang: “Brutal — Watch DC’s snow event slip away in 16 GFS model runs. Early runs had rain– then it was snow– now it’s nada.” [Twitter, Capital Weather Gang]
It’s Wednesday — Today there is a chance of snow, mixing with rain after 10am, then gradually ending. Cloudy, with a high near 43. Sunrise at 7:14 a.m. and sunset at 4:46 p.m. Tomorrow there will be increasing clouds, with a high near 44 and a low of 35. [Weather.gov]
Woman Struck, Killed on GW Parkway — “A pedestrian was struck and killed by a vehicle on the George Washington Parkway near the Key Bridge early Saturday morning, according to police. Shortly before 3 a.m., U.S. Park Police responded to a report of a pedestrian struck by a vehicle in the southbound lanes of the GW Parkway south of the Key Bridge.” [WTOP, Patch]
Beyer Blasts ‘Anti-Vax Shutdown Plot’ — “Congressman Don Beyer (D-VA), who represents the largest number of federal employees of any member of the U.S. House, today issued the following statement on Republicans’ publicly stated plan to shut down the government in an attempt to block the Administration’s Covid vaccination measures: ‘Republicans’ plan to shut down the government on purpose to sabotage our pandemic response is extraordinarily cynical and dangerous.'” [Rep. Don Beyer]
Arlington Firefighters Get to the Choppa –– “Recently 2 members from the ACFD had the unique opportunity to participate in a rope rescue course with regional law enforcement partners. Come take a ride with one of our members on their flight over the region, just don’t look down if you are afraid of heights.” [Twitter]
It’s Thursday — Following overnight showers, today will be relatively warm. There will be increasing clouds, with a high near 66. Southwest wind 7 to 17 mph, with gusts as high as 28 mph. Sunrise at 7:09 a.m. and sunset at 4:46 p.m. Tomorrow will be sunny, with a high near 62. [Weather.gov]
It’s not a common sight, particularly in such close proximity to the Pentagon.
Tomorrow (Tuesday) morning, a helicopter — neither military nor law enforcement — will hover over Pentagon City. It will be there to “remove some rooftop mechanical equipment” from the Pentagon Centre mall building, across S. Hayes Street from the larger Fashion Centre at Pentagon City mall.
The chopper will be landing on the top level of a Pentagon Centre parking garage as part of its work, Arlington County said today via social media. The work is expected to start around 8 a.m.
Non-governmental helicopters and other private aircraft — aside from jetliners arriving and departing National Airport — are only allowed inside the restricted airspace around D.C. by special government waiver. Once such waiver was granted recently for drone flights to count deer in Arlington.
Pentagon Centre is in the midst of a major, multi-year redevelopment project.
On Tuesday, Nov. 23, at 8 a.m., a helicopter is set to remove some roof-top mechanical equipment at the Pentagon Centre Mall building (1201 S. Hayes Street). The helicopter will only be landing on the evacuated P2 parking deck. pic.twitter.com/jLpZF6hZVO
— Arlington County (@ArlingtonVA) November 22, 2021
Update at 3:25 p.m. — The driver has successfully been rescued and is being transported to a local trauma center with serious injuries, per scanner traffic.
Earlier: Firefighters are working to rescue an injured driver after their car careened off the northbound GW Parkway and into a thick patch of woods, just north of Spout Run.
The vehicle is reported to be some 50 feet into the woods, on the embankment that leads down to the Potomac River. Firefighters had difficulty locating it after Arlington County’s dispatch center received a 911 call from the driver, who reported having a leg injury; the U.S. Park Police Eagle 1 helicopter helped to locate it, according to scanner traffic.
The driver is said to be conscious and alert as rescuers figure out the best way to get him or her to safety.
Fire boats from Alexandria and D.C. also in the area, ready to assist if rescuers need to bring the driver down to the river instead of up to the Parkway.
The northbound GW Parkway is closed in the area as a result of the emergency activity, according to an Arlington Alert. Google Maps shows heavy traffic on the GW Parkway backing up to the Roosevelt Bridge.
This is not the first time a car has driven well into the woods between the Parkway and the river. Earlier this year the Parkway was partially closed to allow for the removal of two crashed cars in the woods.
Map via Google Maps
With the opening of a new concourse at Reagan National Airport, aircraft noise above Arlington remains at a high volume and the region is still studying ways to mitigate the roar.
Resident complaints about noises overhead have been constant for years, due to the flight patterns into National Airport and Pentagon-bound helicopters. Most of complaints are from those who live near the Potomac River, which is the general flight path of most jets arriving and departing the airport.
Last week, at the official celebration for the opening of DCA’s new concourse, Congressman Don Beyer bid “good riddance” to the infamous Gate 35X, assuring residents the new gate won’t exacerbate noise.
“While the new facilities will improve the passenger experience, this will not lead to increased flights or aircraft noise, a frequent concern in the region,” he later said in a tweet. “And I will continue the work to mitigate aircraft noise in our area!”
This year, several separate studies and reports have floated potential solutions to quieting the skies. One study, commissioned by Arlington County and Montgomery County, is ongoing, as the scope shifts from inbound to outbound aircraft.
The joint study advised in April to reroute incoming aircraft so they increasingly fly over the Potomac River instead of “residential and noise-sensitive areas.”
The recommendations were made to the Reagan National Community Noise Working Group (CWG), which operates under the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA).
CWG in turn passed them onto the Federal Aviation Administration, though it remains unclear if and when the FAA will act on the suggestions.
The conclusions and process have upset some residents of North Arlington neighborhoods located near the river. During public comments at the Sept. 18 County Board meeting, Chain Bridge Forest resident Alice Doyle said the altered flight paths would cause her and neighbors to bear the brunt of noise.
“To be clear, this means that neighborhoods like Chain Bridge Forest and Arlingwood that sit near the Chain Bridge not only see zero relief from airplane noise, we will now see and hear even more flights overhead,” she said. “The flight disturbance over our homes is almost constant with occasional periods of relief. Under this plan, those much needed moments of noise relief will disappear. ”
She also criticized the county for being “half tuned into the process” and not having enough representatives at the CWG meeting.
County Board member Libby Garvey responded that she understood Doyle’s concerns, but said the report recommends shifting the flight patterns to lessen the burden on Arlington’s more populated areas.
She reiterated in federal issues such as this one, the best county officials can do is to make recommendations.
Now, the joint study has a new focus: departing flights, Arlington County spokeswoman Bryna Helfer tells ARLnow.
“Technical work on new draft procedures for north-flow departures is currently the focus of the study and a community meeting to present those draft procedures will be scheduled before the end of 2021,” she wrote in an email.
In 2018, Arlington and Montgomery counties agreed to split the $250,000 cost of the study, which was officially launched in 2020. For the departing flights study, Arlington paid an additional $50,000, and Montgomery an additional $100,000, Helfer said.
CWG will meet again next Thursday, Oct. 28.
The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) and the Department of Defense also completed studies this year. The GAO report from September recommends the FAA use easier-to-understand noise metrics.