Helicopters allowed to fly to Hamptons—for now

Helicopter halt in the Hamptons

A federal judge has just ensured that summer in the Hamptons will kick off with one of its annual traditions: swarms of private helicopters.

After a hearing in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York in Central Islip, Judge Joanna Seybert decided on Monday to delay her ruling in a case aimed at blocking restrictions on helicopters flying in and out of East Hampton Airport. The judge said she will decide the case in three weeks and that until then, helicopter flights could continue without restrictions into and out of East Hampton, New York.

New rules were scheduled to take effect Monday that put an evening curfew on noisy helicopters at East Hampton and limited each helicopter to one takeoff and landing per week. Local residents had imposed the rules after complaining about noise from the growing numbers of helicopters at the airport.

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Residents say there were more than 5,000 chopper flights into and out of East Hampton last summer, up 47 percent over 2013. On some of the busiest days, there are more than 300 flights into and out of the small airport.

A man watches a helicopter at the East Hampton Airport in East Hampton, New York, in August of 2007.
Andrew Harrer | Bloomberg | Getty Images

A group of helicopter charter companies and other businesses and residents were opposing the limits, saying they would hurt the economy and make flying into and out of the airport more dangerous. They argued that it was up to the Federal Aviation Administration, not the town, to impose noise limits.

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The opponents of the rules sought a temporary restraining order against them. At Monday's hearing, Seybert said she would rule on the restraining order in three weeks. Until then, the new rules would be suspended.

The decision means that the annual rite of summer for many of the New York rich—the Friday chopper flight to East Hampton—will be undisturbed this Memorial Day weekend. As for what happens the rest of the summer, we'll know in a few weeks.

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