The latest great debate over federalism is being waged over an unlikely group: rich folks taking $2,500 chartered whirlybirds to the Hamptons. Noise from their choppers has been driving people batty all along the LIE, and, as we noted earlier, Chuck Schumer has started calling for federal oversight of the increasingly crowded route. And now the helicopter people are fighting back. Todd Rome — the president of Blue Star Jets, which handles nearly all NYC-to-Hamptons helicopter charters — will publish an op-ed in Sunday's Times, predictably fuming about Schumer overreach; instead of the "complicated and costly" federal involvement, he proposes that helicopter operators dampen the din voluntarily. (Blue Star is in a uniquely safe position here, because it books choppers but doesn't operate them.) "To regulate helicopter noises would also be bad for the economy," Rome helpfully adds. It's unclear how some of the smaller companies can afford the new technology needed by Rome's plan, but, hey — perhaps the same customers who shell out two grand to shave 45 minutes off their Friday commute will be happy to absorb the costs.
Earlier: Who's Choppering to the Hamptons? Rich Families
Some Palestinians claim that Yasser Arafat died of AIDS. Justin Timberlake had Lance Bass and his boyfriend run interference at the opening of his Southern Hospitality so that he could sneak out without running into Jessica Biel. Donald Trump and other captains of industry are fighting to keep the heliport in Hudson River Park open. Firefighters invited to the screening of Adam Sandler'sI Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry took issue with Sandler's financial support of Rudy Giuliani. Jonathan Ames is set to box with another writer. Moby got a surprisingly funny letter from Karl Rove. A.M. Homes is developing a show about the Hamptons for HBO.
Chuck Schumer launched another one of his constituent-pleasing crusades this week: He wants the FAA to regulate the flight paths of rent-a-chopper services that whisk the city's plutocracy to the Hamptons on the weekends. They'd be restricted to "noise-abatement routes" along freeways and over the water, leaving Long Islanders feeling a bit less like they're living in a suburban Apocalypse Now. But are Hamptons-bound helicopters really such a problem? Increasingly so, as it turns out. This year, Blue Star Jets, which books for the area's six operators and their 35 helicopters, reports a 15 percent increase in chartered traffic to the beach; it expects to have booked 500 trips by the end of the summer. Even worse, with the average trip costing about $2,500, the passengers are the sorts of people used to getting what they want. "People will come with eight steamer trunks like they're boarding the Titanic," says pilot Charles Humphries. "Then we have to explain to them that they can either take their friends or their bags."