This is a guest post submitted by Kit Lewis, Wallingford resident of 27 years.
Hey, what’s with all these helicopters lately? Have you noticed? Annoyingly loud, alarmingly low, and astonishingly frequent.
We Wallingford residents know that on the 4th of July, our skies will be abuzz with hovering helicopters jostling for position to get that perfect view of the Lake Union fireworks from above. One day a year was what we used to expect. But nowadays it’s very different. There are choppers roaring loudly overhead all day long, every single day. Today I counted 8 very-low-flying helicopters zooming directly over my house in just 4 hours this morning. I know you’ve heard them over your house, too. Just what are they doing up there, why are they flying so low, and just where are they going? Is it multiple-injury Life Flight transport? Military exercises? More FEMA Cascadia earthquake recovery drills?
They’re the next phase in our scenic city’s tourism trade: helicopter tours. There are at least 4 “HeliTour” companies originating their flights from Boeing Field and targeting such Wallingford-proximate spots as Green Lake, the Ballard Locks, Lake Union, Husky Stadium and Gasworks for their passengers’ viewing pleasure. And while the viewpoint targets are not actually in Wallingford, the routes to & from them most certainly take these choppers directly over our neighborhood, many times a day, flying low and fast to the next destination.
The Phinneywood.com blog was in a tizzy a few months ago about the altitude of Phinney Ridge vs. the altitude of these tourist helicopters, citing a few very clear FAA violations; mainly the 1,000 foot minimum height restriction over towns and cities (Phinney folks and the HeliTour websites themselves say they’re as low as 500 feet), and the regulations that prohibit single-engine aircraft from flying directly over people on the ground. The Phinney folks contacted their city and county representatives about this, and were sent directly to the FAA and the Seattle Flight Standards District Office (Really? Such an office exists?). No word on any further developments.
What do you think, fellow Wallingfordians? Are we ready for a petition to alleviate the noise? Or do we chalk this up as just another thing to tolerate as we enjoy life in the big city?