Mayor de Blasio is learning the hard way that there are some things you can’t take back when talking about helicopters. The words: “Not my thing.”
Because according to records from the NYPD, helicopters have kind of become his thing in 2016. The mayor has taken a total of 14 police chopper rides in 2016, including ten in the last three months alone. That’s compared with a total of three rides in 2014, and two in all of 2015.
The scrutiny over the mayor’s apparent new interest in helicopter travel began on an October Friday, when an NYPD helicopter churned up the fields in Prospect Park to transport a V.I.P. – who turned out to be the mayor. De Blasio, who had reportedly been taking meetings in his old Park Slope neighborhood, had to be shuttled to a 6:30 event in Queens, and it looked a bit as if he were trying to avoid rush-hour traffic on the BQE.
But a little perspective here. De Blasio’s predecessor and noted helicopter enthusiast Mayor Michael Bloomberg took 44 NYPD flights in his first year in office, though that’s skewed a bit because he had to attend many memorial services in the wake of September 11, per the Times. Still, Bloomberg took about ten NYPD chopper flights per year until Hurricane Sanday — and those numbers do not include Bloomberg piloting his own fleet and annoying the the East Side of Manhattan.
De Blasio used helicopters at least some of the time during emergencies — including visiting injured firefighters or police officers in the hospital — or to attend services, such as that of NYPD Sergeant Paul Tuozzolo, who was fatally shot in the line of duty last month. Eric Phillips, a spokesman for the mayor’s office, said de Blasio or his staff used helicopters for his official duties, and told CBS 2 that the “NYPD decides how to transport the mayor from event to event” often because of logistical and security reasons. And it probably helps with the punctuality, too.