NYC Lawmakers Request FAA Institute Restrictions on Helicopter Flights Over Shakespeare in the Park Festival
Today, New York City Members of Congress, led by Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), who represents the Upper West Side of Manhattan - including Central Park - and parts of Brooklyn, sent a letter to Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Acting Administrator Daniel K. Elwell demanding the FAA institute Temporary Flight Restrictions (TFR) during outdoor performances of The Public Theater's Shakespeare in the Park Festival.
“If the ringing of a single cell phone can disrupt the cadence of an entire performance, imagine the impact caused by near-constant, low-flying helicopters," said Assemblymember Linda B. Rosenthal. "A temporary flight restriction in the sky above the theater during the summer performance months would spare audiences the deep humming of chopper blades, and enable them instead to enjoy the sights and sounds of the theater while demonstrating respect for the performers, who have invested hours of work in preparation for any given show. Shakespeare wasn't meant to be accompanied by hovering helicopters.
August 10, 2018
Daniel K. Elwell
Dear Administrator Elwell:
We are requesting that the FAA institute Temporary Flight Restrictions (TFR) over Central Park during the summer evenings of the outdoor performances of the Public Theater’s Shakespeare in the Park Festival at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park. Over the past months and years the helicopter traffic at night over Central Park has steadily gotten worse. The constant noise generated from hovering and flying helicopters over the Delacorte Theater has interrupted the performance of the shows, and disrupted what is a cherished New York City summer tradition.
The Public has a rich history that spans more than fifty years. Founded by the legendary Joseph Papp in 1962, The Public is regarded as one of the country’s foremost cultural institutions. The Public’s signature Shakespeare in the Park program is a beloved New York institution, distributing free tickets to open-air Shakespeare performances featuring many of the country’s leading actors. Since its inception, free Shakespeare in the Park has been seen by nearly five million people, and keeps their productions accessible by offering free or low-cost theater performances and educational and community programming.
This quintessential New York experience is being threatened by the noise generated by the helicopter traffic. For decades, helicopter flights over New York City and in the surrounding region have impacted the quality of life of our constituents, and our skies are inundated by the large numbers of tourist helicopters. These flights are dangerous to the public, cause noise pollution, and have a negative impact on people living in a dense, urban community. Since 2007, there have been at least 8 helicopter accidents over the City of New York. And just recently on March 11, 2018 a helicopter carrying sightseeing tourists crashed into the East River in New York City, killing the five passengers on board. On each occasion, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) failed to sufficiently act to regulate helicopter traffic.
While you are considering stronger regulations to deal with congestion and excessive noise generated from helicopter traffic in the sky, we request a fix that could be done immediately, and would give our constituents confidence that the FAA understands the depth of this quality of life issue, and will address the problem.
We urge you to issue a TFR for outdoor performances of the Public Theater’s Shakespeare in the Park Festival during the May through August performances with the exception of law enforcement and emergency flights. Thank you for your attention to this matter. We look forward to your response.
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