Helicopter noise sparks outrage in Whitestone

Assemblyman Michael Simanowitz (c.) speaks at a rally with state Sen. Tony Avella (l.) and northeast Queens homeowners about excessive helicopter noise. Photo by Joe Anuta
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Whitestone and Malba Gardens residents are being driven nuts by increased helicopter noise as more choppers travel to and from the north coast of Long Island, where a mandatory route bypassing Suffolk and Nassau counties begins about 15 miles away from the Queens border.

Community leaders gathered Tuesday to protest the noise, which they say has diminished their quality of life, frightened residents and reduced property values.

“There are days when homes vibrate, things fall off shelves,” said Alfredo Centola, of the Malba Gardens Civic Association.

The majority of the helicopters travel between helipads in Manhattan and points east along Long Island, including tony destinations at the island’s eastern forks, according to state Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside) and state Assemblyman Michael Simanowitz (D-Electchester), who protested alongside homeowners this week.

Last year, in response to complaints of helicopter noise in Suffolk and Nassau counties and pressure from U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), the Federal Aviation Administration instituted a mandatory North Shore route to push choppers out over the Long Island Sound and keep them from flying above residential areas.

The route begins off the coast of Huntington, L.I., miles away from Queens.

But how pilots get between Manhattan and that route is at the heart of the problem in Queens and the subject of hot debate.

A helicopter taking off from Manhattan and bound for Long Island has several possible routes, including a few crossing Queens and Brooklyn and one along the south shore of Long Island, according to flight maps. One of those routes flies directly over Malba and Whitestone.

The Eastern Region Helicopter Council, a nonprofit that represents helicopter pilots, contends the Malba and Whitestone route is the safest way to traverse the restricted airspace of LaGuardia Airport and travel on to the start of the North Shore Route about 17 miles away from the Queens border.

The council wants to get rid of the route, which would eliminate choppers buzzing Queens communities and allow them to fan out over the island, it said.

“Last year at the urging of Sen. Schumer and other Long Island elected officials, the FAA reduced the flight paths available and implemented a mandated North Shore route that requires helicopters to repeatedly fly over the Whitestone and Malba communities,” said Jeff Smith, spokesman for the council. “To best help the local communities, we urge Sen. Tony Avella and Assembly member Mike Simanowitz to talk to Sen. Schumer and the FAA to repeal the mandatory North Shore route and return to a more diversified flight path to alleviate the impacts to these important communities.”

But Schumer’s office countered that no one route over Queens is mandatory — the pilots are deliberately picking the shortest shot to the North Shore route to save time and fuel.

“The Eastern Regional Helicopter Council is either ignorant, lying or both — they could solve this entire problem by simply flying over water and flying higher, but so far they’ve refused,” said Max Young, spokesman for Schumer. “For the ERHC ... to say that they are required to fly over certain houses in Queens in order to follow a proscribed route that doesn’t start until the middle of Long Island is absurd and dishonest.”

The council said it shares a goal with Schumer to end excessive noise for residents.

Reach reporter Joe Anuta by e-mail at or by phone at 718-260-4566.

Updated 5:58 pm, September 26, 2013
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Reader feedback

Resident from Whitestone says:
"There are days when homes vibrate, things fall off shelves.”

Sept. 26, 2013, 9:34 am
Arthur from Whitestone says:
Resident? your a punk.

Thank you Al for bringing this to our wonderful Senators attention. This problem has been horrendous. Now Senator Avella is involved, it well get resolved quickly.

We love you Al.
Sept. 26, 2013, 2:32 pm
Carmine says:
Al is a true leader in this community, the other so called civic leaders never do anything. nice job Al.
Sept. 26, 2013, 2:36 pm
Paul Tower says:
When Alfredo Centola and Tony Avella work together, they can restore Whitestone to what it once was. Thank you Al.
Sept. 26, 2013, 2:39 pm
Arthur from Whitestone says:
Very well said.
Sept. 26, 2013, 2:42 pm
Gina from Whitestone says:
As a parent who has to raise young children at home, the more serious problem we have around here and is worst and CONSTANT is the LANDSCAPERS, who come and go all day long from the crack of dawn til dark from March til December, making way worst noise than a passing helicoptor, also spewing toxic fumes my children have to breath subjecting them to asthma attacks and so many other illnesses... how come NO ONE is mentioning and doing anything to end this WORST problem???
Oct. 3, 2013, 6:02 am
Vito from Whitestone says:
The helicopters flying over Whitestone each night continues to be a significant disturbance to the quality of life. The politicians dont seem to care. The community should be making larger protests to make sure their voices are heard. The helicopters should be forced to take another route and not fly over the Whitestone and Malba communities.
Oct. 5, 2013, 8:15 am
Clemenza from Whitestone says:
"Disturbance to the quality of life".. It seems like all you Avella puppets are saying that these days.

It's only some fuc*in helicopters! Nothing political? Hmmm.
Oct. 6, 2013, 11:36 am
Carmine says:
Clemenza? Al is not an Avella puppet. Punk
Oct. 10, 2013, 2:20 pm
Ralph from Whitestone says:
Call Al I want to sell my House because millionaires and billionaires that on helicopters think that they have the right tweak up our children crack our foundations and disturb her sleep
Sept. 21, 2014, 8:41 pm
Ralph from Whitestone says:
Hey Al been a year since people are complaining, is there anything you can do about this or not?
We miss the days that I was quiet reminds me of Baghdad.helicopters flying over every minute of the day and night only a matter of time until one of these helicopters crashed into a residential home and then what ? God knows we had helicopter accidents in the city before.

Here's a copy paste of the FAA's website

Helicopter crashes within the United States are occurring with alarming frequency. One-half (1/2) of the entire worldwide civil helicopter fleet operates in the United States, and thirty-six percent (36%) of all helicopter crashes occur here. From 2011 to 2014, the accident rate for civil helicopter use per 100,000 flight hours was forty percent (40%) higher than that for general aviation fixed-wing aircraft. The helicopter industry itself has acknowledged that the current helicopter accident rate is "excessive and unsustainable."
Sept. 21, 2014, 8:49 pm
Ralph from Whitestone says:
If you have any of you ever been on the helicopter you would know that it is a very hard job to fly one very demanding, you must be very alert and Highly skilled to operate a helicopter. Without no exaggeration, If the pilot farts you will feel it in the flight
Sept. 21, 2014, 8:52 pm
Joanne from Whitedtone says:
I live at LeHavre, a complex of co-ops in Whitestone. The constant barrage of helicopter noise has gotten much worse since I moved here 10 years ago. The argument about their required routes is nonsense. Our buildinfd shake and it often feels like they will land here. If it's not an election year you're out of luck so become active, rile up your neighbors, keep sending in complaints. We can make a difference. We owe it to our kids.
July 17, 2015, 8:07 am
Resident from Whitestone says:
Oh you guys are babies. Give me a break, there are more important things to worry about on whitestone like the rampant abuse of prescription pills. Get a life.
Aug. 10, 2015, 5:20 pm
Albert from Whitestone says:
Thank you Al. Helicopter noise is unbearable especially in summer. Im so sick of it. I feel so powerless in doing anything about this so Al's and Tony's efforts are appreciated very much.
March 24, 2016, 3:28 pm
Cp from Whitepoint says:
And there's another helicopter doing circles over my home as I read this, why is that??
May 23, 6:48 pm

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