Some northern Idaho residents want to ground helicopter tours due to noise

BAYVIEW, Idaho – A group of people who live near scenic Lake Pend Oreille in northern Idaho wants to ground helicopter tours because of the noise.

Some Bayview residents say the helicopter makes the mountainous area sound like a war zone, especially when it takes off and lands from a parking lot in the middle of town.

“A lot of people were upset to the point where there could have been a monster rally in the parking lot to keep them from landing,” said Tom Lloyd, who lives on nearby Cape Horn Mountain. “It wouldn’t take us long to rally 200, 300 people.”

But promoter Phil Stephan says it’s a vocal minority who wants to shut down the flights.

“We are not going to let a handful of people decide what we do,” he told the Coeur d’Alene Press ( ) in a story Friday. “We have five businesses here that struggle and struggle to make it. They bank on, say, 12 weekends in the summer. If it rains, they’re lucky if they get eight good weekends through the summer to help them make it the rest of the year.”

Stephan said the helicopter tours on one day drew more than 50 people to town. He said they are intended to bring in business on summer weekends when no other events are planned. Stephan said the parking lot is a temporary landing pad, and a heliport will be built elsewhere if the tours become popular.

Bayview’s economy is declining while thousands of visitors head to nearby Farragut State Park, he added.

“We’re trying to create some activities in town so people come here and everybody prospers,” Stephan said. “If the only thing you can do is walk around and sit at a bar, you’re probably not going to want to come here.”

Stephan is promoting the helicopter tours for businessman Chan Karupiah, who owns five Bayview marinas. The Federal Aviation Administration said Inland Helicopters, which operates the helicopter, has the proper credentials and licensing.

Stephan also is promoting recreational vehicle, boat and car shows during the summer.

Another concern of area residents is that the helicopter takes tourists to view goats, which Lloyd said can be spooked by the machine.

“It’s pretty loud,” he said. “One of the most frightening things is, there’s a lot of research that says helicopters near the goats will scare them out of there.”

Stephan said the helicopter isn’t any louder than some of the boats on Lake Pend Oreille.

An area of the lake popular with sightseers watching mountain goats is Echo Bay. Bayview resident Sheryl Puckett said the helicopter tour went over the bay.

“They don’t call it Echo Bay for nothing,” Puckett said. “Sound reverberates and amplifies in this area.”


Information from: Coeur d’Alene Press,