The National Park Service (NPS) is proposing new rules to cap the number of air-tour flights over the Grand Canyon, further restrict flight corridors and altitudes adjacent to it, and mandate the use of “quiet-technology” helicopters flying tours there.
Coconino County, Arizona
After debating Grand Canyon air-tour noise for eight years, the Grand Canyon Working Group (GCWG) has left the issue to the National Park Service (NPS), which often supports environmentalist positions. At a recent meeting the GCWG disagreed on NPS alternatives, including a seasonal shift in air-tour corridors by alternatively closing the Zuni and Dragon corridors, which are now open concurrently.
Bell 407, Sedona, Ariz., Oct. 13, 2008–An Arizona Department of Public Safety paramedic was killed during a search-and-rescue operation on Doe Mountain near Sedona. The helicopter crew had flown from Flagstaff Pulliam Airport to help find two stranded hikers. They spotted the hikers on the mountain, notified the Sedona Fire Department, which had initiated the search, and landed on a large boulder near the hikers.
In light of the comity that almost turned a Senate Commerce Committee hearing on national parks overflights into a “lovefest” early last month, it is difficult to fathom why it has taken more than 15 years to reach agreement on rules for air tours over such noise-sensitive recreational areas.
Dateline September 1927: Lindbergh is just back from Paris, and being “air-minded” is the thing. Out in the Wild West, World War I Army flier, entrepreneur and promoter J. Parker Van Zandt creates a runway across a northern Arizona meadow at a place called Red Butte, begins building a hangar and prepares to launch the first commercial air tours over the Grand Canyon.
In August 1987 the National Parks Overflight Act (NPOA) mandated that the FAA and National Parks Service (NPS) work together to achieve “substantial restoration of natural quiet” in the Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona.
In 1987 the National Parks Overflights Act mandated substantial restoration of “natural quiet” at Grand Canyon National Park. Seventeen years later, the FAA and the National Park Service (NPS) agreed to resolve the overflight noise issues together.