Jeramey Jannene

New Helicopter Tours Spark Frustration, New Flight Path

Ald. Scott Spiker negotiates new flight path. Company offers unique way to see city.

By - Feb 23rd, 2023 04:08 pm
MyFlight Tours helicopter at AvFlight in Milwaukee. Photo by Scott Spiker.

MyFlight Tours helicopter at AvFlight in Milwaukee. Photo by Scott Spiker.

The late January launch of helicopter tours over Milwaukee wasn’t met with universal support. A number of residents that live near Milwaukee Mitchell International Airport were concerned about a sudden increase in noise.

Michigan-based MyFlight Tours quietly entered the market with three trip options, offered only on weekends until May. A 10-mile, 5-to-7-minute tour starts at $55, while a 35-mile, 15-20-minute skyline tour starts at $150.

The company’s website says the flights take place 1,000 feet off the ground and head straight north from the airport. It’s those two points that drew concern from area residents.

“Helicopter owners should have a heart on Valentine’s Day,” wrote area Alderman Scott Spiker in a particularly humorous press release issued Feb. 14.

“Residents of the 13th District near the airport have bought the flowers; they’ve bought the chocolate; they’ve written out their cards. They have a special night booked with their beloved,” said the alderman. “Unfortunately, so do the helicopter tours at the airport. Imagine yelling to your sweetheart that you love them over the whomp, whomp of rotating blades above your house. You don’t have to imagine if you live in one of the neighborhoods north of the airport. You can experience it first-hand!”

Spiker said the new service flew in under the radar, surprising city and county officials in addition to residents. Comments on social media from area residents expressed frustration with the frequency and proximity to the ground compared to the existing plane traffic.

“I demand a meeting with the airport representatives, the helicopter owners, and the businesses that supply the pit crew for the choppers on airport grounds. For those who would say I am making a federal case out of ‘a little noise,’ I invite you to come and listen for yourselves,” said Spiker.

While pledging to work with the tour company and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the airport noted it doesn’t have much control of the situation. “The Airport has limited authority because the FAA regulates and controls the use of airspace. As a public use airport, MKE does not have the legal authority to prevent or restrict any aircraft – including helicopters – from operating here,” said the county-owned Milwaukee Mitchell International Airport in a Facebook post.

Spiker got his meeting on Feb. 18 and was pleased to report a compromise was found.

“Instead of heading due north low and over the houses of residents, they are going to head due west over closed (on the weekend) commercial properties then north crossing the freeway by which point they should be at full altitude (1500 feet),” announced the alderman. He said the helicopters would stay north of W. Edgerton Ave. and east of S. 13th St., placing their ascent and descent over a commercial and industrial area instead of the Town of Lake neighborhood.

MyFlight Tour’s Milwaukee flights take off from AvFlight, 401 E. Layton Ave., at the northwest corner of the airport grounds.

You can see the company’s actual Milwaukee flight paths on FlightAware. Photos indicate the company is using a Robinson R44 helicopter with the tail number N676MS.

The company, launched in 2019 by husband-and-wife team Sergio and Cassandra Troiani, started in Grand Rapids and quickly added Detroit. In addition to expanding to Milwaukee, the company also added Knoxville, TN and the neighboring Great Smoky Mountains to its tour lineup. It is also adding Mackinac Island and St. Ignace in Michigan later this spring.

The company offers a variety of configurable options, including $100 to remove the doors, for each flight.

Have another need for a helicopter? MyFlight Tours has special packages for gender reveals (pink or blue smoke), petal drops, proposals, photoshoots or custom tours.

Those with continuing concerns about noise can submit a report via the airport’s noise complaint form.

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