Letter to the Editor

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – As a foreigner living in ‘The Marvelous City’, I feel compelled to express
my opinion on the helicopter traffic that is now attacking some of our
finest areas of Zona Sul.

The beautiful landscapes, beaches, sunsets and people attracted me to the
area around Ipanema Beach and Arpoador and I feel blessed to be able to
live here. I enjoy watching the flight of thousands of Split-tail Frigate
Birds as they make their daily migrations from the Cagarras Islands to
Rio’s mainland, through some of the world’s most beautiful skies. Yet,
those very skies, above one of Brazil’s premier scenic destinations, now
appear to be a scene out of the epic war film, “Apocalypse Now”! Anyone
who has tried to photograph a sunset at Arpoador recently knows what I am
referring to – the seemingly endless stream of helicopters swooping
through the area with their incessant noise and disruption to the
spectators and migrating birds alike.

On my last inspection of my rooftop, I saw no helipad for which to land
upon, yet the new helicopter air-traffic route, over my Ipanema penthouse
apartment, is so low that I could literally throw a baseball and hit any
number of helicopters which fly overhead ever few minutes. Safety should
be a concern, not just for the residents of Ipanema and Arpoador, but also
for the passengers on-board these helicopters. Oh yes, I do have sympathy
for the passengers, as they are simply trying, as best they can, to
navigate Rio’s congested roadway infrastructure. However, altitude
restrictions over residential areas and tourist locations should be
strictly enforced for safety reasons as well as the noise pollution,
wildlife and visual reasons.

I’d like to congratulate the city of Rio de Janeiro for their recent
hosting of the RIO+20 Event and the UNESCO recognition of Rio de Janeiro
as ‘a city of unique beauty in the world, both because of its nature and
its people’. I doubt however, that the city would have received these high
praises had the recently changed air-traffic routes been in effect at the
time that they were evaluating Rio’s nomination. Noise pollution and
disruptions in these areas of paradise do not win these types of awards,
nor do they impress the international visitors who help to make it South
America’s largest tourist attraction.

It is my sincere hope that my letter to your fine newspaper will help to
inspire others to band together to right this atrocity. Over the years
Cariocas and visitors alike have all come to accept ‘some’ noise from the
small aircraft that fly near Zona Sul’s premier beaches. The small
bi-planes with their waving banners, the occasional big-eyed tourists
pressed against a helicopter window, or even the dreamy ultra-lights… but
the newly imposed establishment of a three dimensional super-highway
cutting lowly through the skies above Ipanema and Arpoador is simply

Someone call Francis Ford Coppola, we have a ‘perfect location’ for a helicopter attack scene – as a sequel to his Award Winning film.


Rick Devin


  1. Dear “Rio Times”,

    Thank you kindly for posting my recent “Letter to the Editor”.

    Today, 25 July 2012, “O-Globo” has printed a large article with maps about some newly proposed “Tourist Helicopter” Air-traffic Routes over the city (pg.17). While it is comforting to see some actions being taken by the City of Rio de Janeiro and “O-Globo”, I believe that they miss a major part of the point.

    “Tourist Helicopters” are not the primary threat to the paradise locations of Ipanema, Arpoador & Copacabana Beaches and they are certainly not a part of the ‘helicopter rush hours’ starting as early as 6:00am and running until after dark. Those traffic hours are being operated by “Corporate Helicopters”, who are easy to spot by their make and model when they fly so low over the neighborhoods. In my humble opinion, these “Corporate Helicopters” also, should be required to abide by the same “Elevation Laws and Routes Changes” as are being proposed for the “Tourist Helicopters”.

    Thanks again,
    Rick Devin


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