MD54 provides gateway to downtown Baltimore

 - May 2, 2008, 7:22 AM

For Dan Naor, a helicopter owner and pilot and partner in the busy Baltimore Marine Center in the Maryland city’s downtown harbor, landing at the nearest airport was an inconvenience. “You can land at BWI or Martin,” he said, “but then it takes half an hour to get downtown.”

Four years ago, Naor set up a small floating pier where he could land the company helicopter at the marina, and local pilots started asking if they could use it, too. The level of interest convinced Naor that Baltimore Harbor needed its own heliport, and he began the process of converting some spare space on Pier 7 into a helicopter-friendly facility.

Working with the city of Baltimore, the Maryland Aviation Administration (MAA) and the FAA, Naor obtained the required approvals and opened the heliport as a private facility two years ago.

Although the process was complicated and took a long time, all the agencies were easy to work with, Naor reported. “The FAA is happy with any heliport or airport that would open,” he said. And the MAA was excited about the heliport, too. Thanks to those agencies’ help, a few months ago the Baltimore Heliport/Pier 7 Heliport (MD54) became a public facility. Amenities include a 7,000-sq-ft hangar, a pilots’ lounge and ExxonMobil jet-A. A crew car is available for visitors who want to take advantage of the five-minute drive to downtown Baltimore’s hundreds of restaurants and Orioles and Ravens games at the downtown stadiums.

The heliport is located on a pier in Baltimore Harbor, with five 44-foot-diameter parking spots extending from the land side of the pier toward the end. The “H” at the end of the pier is where all approaches and departures take place. Landing fees range from $25 for a Robinson R22 to $150 for a Sikorsky S-92, and parking is $25 per hour. These fees are waived for up to three hours for fuel purchases of 50 more gallons (jet fuel only, avgas is not available). Pilots should review the “Heliport Operating Procedures” page on the heliport’s Web site (

About 20 helicopters a day are now using the Baltimore Heliport, according to Naor. Baltimore Heli- copter Services, which operates the marina’s Bell 407 on charter flights, flies all of Maryland’s donated organ missions. Naor is also getting calls from other people seeking to build similar facilities in downtown areas. “People are trying to understand the process and what’s involved. People should open as many heliports as possible. We felt there was a need in Baltimore, and we had the opportunity to make it happen. This heliport is the gateway to Baltimore city by air.”