Coming during a terrible season of flightseeing noise, Don Smith's endorsement of flightseeing operators is particularly galling. Some of his points could be agreed on, but most are misrepresentations. He is egregiously inaccurate in asserting that flightseeing operators have "responsibly addressed the concerns of local residents."
Flightseeing is a good way for some people to view the scenery, and the experience may be a once-in-a-lifetime thrill for some. We are told that many tourists rate highly their helicopter experience, yet we never hear about those who had a poor or even frightening experience due to flights in bad weather. Nether do we hear about those who were sorely frustrated by not receiving a refund when they saw how poor the visibility was and chose not to fly. Rescues and medical emergencies are implied as charitable activity on the part of flightseeing companies, without the explanation that they are usually paid to perform these missions. The implication that we need the services of five helicopter companies to provide emergency services is false, as they were readily available before tourism activities reached the present level. Notice as well that no one ever mentions the number of rescue cases and fatal crashes caused by flightseeing operations.
With respect to Forest Service permitting, flight activities are practically an exclusive use of the surrounding areas. Exclusive because the noise of aircraft is severely intrusive to anyone on the ground using the trail system. If aircraft are operating with the present frequency, then there is no wilderness and the very real values of hiking for solitude and escape from the sounds of man are severely diminished or eliminated.
The audible hell created by ERA helicopters and Wings float planes here in Douglas proves false any assertion that flightseeing operators have dealt responsibly with resident's concerns. Noise is the issue. Operators have arrogantly ignored the problem, predicated the hoax of voluntary compliance as a solution, and advocated unrestricted growth of this already excessive activity.
In so doing, the economic benefit of these operations is greatly overvalued, and quiet is severely undervalued. It is singularly ironic that advocates of flightseeing often phrase support in terms of "sharing" our community with tourists, but refuse to share our airspace with local residents who prefer it to be empty more often. Make my share helicopter free. Reduce flightseeing now.
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