How intense was helicopter traffic over and around our neighborhood during last November’s Formula 1 weekend? Many of us have anecdotal guesses, but the hard numbers are that over the three-day event, there were 317 landings or take-offs from the temporary helipad at Embassy Suites on Riverside Drive. That figure doesn’t count the many other helicopters that flew over our neighborhood from other launch sites. As a result of those numbers, and as a result of complaints from our neighborhood (58 percent of complaints during the weekend came from the SRCC area) the City Council created a Helicopter Stakeholder Group to recommend changes in the City’s helicopter codes.
One bit of good news: Even without new recommendations, the helicopter operators and F1 staff expect next year’s traffic to be reduced by as much as 40 percent, largely because the return trips weren’t as convenient as the riders had hoped.
The Stakeholder Group, on which SRCC was represented, is formulating its recommendations this month. The group’s consensus was to recommend new rules that would reduce flights into and out of the nearby helipad (or any other that might be permitted nearby) to approximately 72 takeoffs and landings for the three-day weekend. The final recommendations will go to several City boards and commissions before the Council considers them – tentatively scheduled for late March.