Short North Residents’ Complaints Prompt New Route For Ohio State Fair Helicopter


The Short North has returned to relative quiet, following what some neighbors described as a constant barrage of helicopter noise.

The noise is coming from helicopter tours that are part of a paid attraction at the Ohio State Fair.

"Almost every 10 minutes, for 13 hours a day, and the fair goes about 10 days -- helicopters coming through the area," said Short North Civic Association Administrator Chet Ridenour. "They're flying low; they've been going directly over residential areas."

The helicopter rides take passengers on a tour above Columbus, which until now, included a view of the downtown city skyline.

That required pilots to fly directly above the Short North's residential neighborhoods.

"Last weekend, we had neighbors complain. They had dinner parties, it was beautiful weather, they're out on their patio, and they're hearing this buzz come through every five or 10 minutes," Ridenour said.

The fair helicopters fly lower than most choppers in the sky

And the lower the altitude, the louder the noise they make for those around.

Higher Ground Helicopters Pilot Jim Kennedy, who conducts the tours, said they try to minimize their impact on the community, but public safety will always be their first priority.

"There's a lot of helicopter traffic around here, especially EMS helicopters, police helicopters -- we want to stay below them,” Kennedy said. “Plus, we have a lot of traffic from Port Columbus."

The Short North Civic Association asked the company to instead consider flying over main highways, adding alternate routes and ceasing late night tours.

In response to the complaints, the pilot now eliminates the downtown leg of the tour -- travelling no further south than the fairgrounds and no further west than the Horseshoe.

"So we tried to adjust our route around them. Tried to stay over the highways, try to minimize our impact to the community," said Kennedy. "We want to work with everybody. We don't want to be a nuisance to people," he said.

Because the helicopters operate under 2,500 feet, they do not fall under the jurisdiction of the Port Columbus Regional Authority. But inspectors with the Federal Aviation Administration just visited their site at the Ohio State Fairgrounds, and approved their new, alternate route.

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