Crowd-sourcing helicopter flights? Gotta be a lawsuit

As Memorial Day approached, Hamptons residents girded themselves for seasonal headaches: traffic jams, guys in tank tops, the Kardashians. For the next few weeks, at least, another irritant will remain: helicopter noise. The East Hampton Airport, long a haven for discreet private planes, recently imposed restrictions on “noisy” aircraft, which aviation interests have sued to block. Last week, a judge delayed ruling on the matter until June. Much of the controversy revolves around new air services such as Blade, which allows people to crowd-source helicopter flights.

Blade works like Uber. You download an app, and when you find yourself needing a chopper you press a button to launch a charter flight, splitting the fare with other passengers. The system has brought the cost of helicopter travel from around thirty-five hundred dollars–C.E.O. territory–to six hundred dollars for a one-way forty-minute trip to or from East Hampton. Blade has been downloaded by twenty thousand users, and it advertises with slogans like “Beat your boss to work!” Locals hate it. Patricia Currie, a consultant, lives in Sag Harbor, close to the airport’s flight path. “It’s like the apocalypse is descending on top of your house,” she said. “It’s an ill bird that fouls its nest. And that’s what’s happening here. These people are coming out to Paradise. And then they’ll foul the next and leave.”

–Lizzie Widdicombe, “Up and Away Air Bus,” The New Yorker, June 1, 2015

The Hamptons are not Paradise. And personally I wouldn’t spend $6 bucks for a one-way forty-minute trip out there.

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