Helicopter joy flights over the Gardens of Stone and the Capertee Valley area may thrill the riders but repeats the mistake made in the early 1990s, when helicopters flying in the central Blue Mountains drove both local residents and park visitors to distraction.
Helicopter joy flights have an engine, rotor and vibration noise signature that is primarily downward due to air being pushed down by the rotor. In consequence, helicopter operations are significantly louder and distinctly more annoying than fixed wing aircraft. Helicopter joy flights are capable of more frequent, low level flights than other aircraft. Joy flights adversely affect peregrine falcons, eagles and other raptors, as well as tourists attracted to the Gardens of Stone area.
The Gardens of Stone’s ambience as a hidden world “away from it all” would be seriously undermined by regular helicopter flights. Flights from the helipad at Capertee could concentrate over the very scenic Mt Genowlan, Mt Airly and Pantoneys Crown areas, the key areas for any ground based eco-tourism, causing serious disturbance to an essential quality of any nature tourism product – the sense of peace and solitude and being within nature.’
To avoid community conflict and protect the natural quiet of the Gardens of Stone area, joy flights must operate within existing background noise levels when flying near national parks or over any environmentally sensitive area, including the Airly-Genowlan Mesa. This requires flying at 5000 feet and avoiding overflight of wilderness areas and national parks.