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Scenic chopper rides ripped

Patrick Parkinson, Of the Record staff

Companies that provide scenic helicopter tours on the West Side should be shut down, Summit County Commissioner Sally Elliott declared last week in a meeting in Coalville.

"We’re not the kind of place that needs scenic overviews," Elliott said.

A chopper operated by Park City Helitours recently landed near the Utah Olympic Park, and someone was picked up and flown to the airport, Elliott complained.

"I think that is something that I would like to regulate out of existence," she said.

This year, neighbors in Sun Peak complained when pilots for Park City Helitours began taking off and landing from the Grand Summit Hotel at The Canyons.

"They are no longer operating for the season out at The Canyons," Summit County Community Development Director Nora Shepard said.

But helicopters shouldn’t land anywhere in western Summit County except if they are responding to emergencies, Elliott said.

"I’ve gotten a bazillion calls," she said about people who have complained to her about the noise from the helicopters.

Neighborhoods near The Canyons were beginning to resemble war zones as pilots picked up passengers this summer west of her home, Sun Peak resident Cheryl Fine-Whitteron recently told The Park Record.

Some afternoons helicopters landed four times at the resort, she claimed.

Last summer, Park City Helitours didn’t even have a Summit County business license, Elliott lamented.

Park City Helitours provides helicopter service for tourists, residents and businesses, according to Park City Helitours Chief Executive Officer Pam Thompson.

"We have landing rights from a guy who owns the piece of land behind the visitor center," Thompson said in a telephone interview Tuesday.

People are often picked up at Kimball Junction and flown to Salt Lake International Airport, she said.

"Why it is an issue to [Elliott,] I don’t know," Thompson said.

County officials could have a difficult time regulating helicopters because airspace is the jurisdiction of the Federal Aviation Administration, Thompson said.

Meanwhile, Elliott said she supports a request to operate a permanent landing pad at Burns Fire Station on Bitner Road for medical helicopters. By not requiring the emergency helicopter to fly each day to Snyderville from Salt Lake City, "we’ll be down two flights a day, which is probably a good thing," Elliott said.


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