It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s a — mystery??? Late Thursday evening, when many locals stayed in to watch the much-anticipated January 6 hearings, Hell’s Kitchen residents were baffled by a low-hovering NYPD helicopter over 9th and 10th Avenue. As of today, it remains a mystery, despite 24 hours of concerted investigation by your favorite local news publication.
“What’s happening?!” posted many users on Instagram and Twitter, tagging both the NYPD and W42ST in hopes of determining the cause of the low-flying chopper.
W42ST reached out to the NYPD, only to be told they “didn’t know” the reason behind the commotion — nor could they confirm the reason why several readers also spotted police vehicles on the ground at W47th Street and 9th Avenue at around the same time.
Some speculated that the hubbub was in service of film production in the area. According to the OLV NYC filming locations tracker, “Rybernia”— aka the Bradley Cooper biopic Maestro — was scheduled to film around 10th Avenue and W44th Street June 9. While it seemed that helicopters were not part of the production, the upcoming film was the only shoot scheduled in Hell’s Kitchen for the day.
Some neighbors, however, were less than thrilled that they hadn’t been warned of the noise or the reason for it, which in the past has often signaled police activity, unexpected fireworks, or national security threats to the area. Several readers noted that the last time they had heard helicopters in the area was when police arrived without a warrant to the W45th Street apartment of Derrick Ingram, co-founder of Warriors in the Garden to arrest him — resulting in an hours-long standoff.
“I now know this giant aircraft that hovered low over my block for 20 minutes was for a f…ing movie filming a rooftop fight scene,” posted HK resident Cindy Finch to Facebook, who told W42ST that she had encountered an unidentified actor on set after heading outside to investigate.
“My PTSD is raging and my heart is beating out of my chest. The helicopter made my windows rattle and filled my home with engine noise,” said Finch. “Mr. Mayor Eric Adams… DUDE you have to warn people that this is happening. A permit doesn’t let the neighbors know that it’s not another terrorist attack, plane crashing into the Hudson down the block, or a helicopter crashing onto a roof above our heads,” she added.
W42ST reached out to the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment to confirm a late-night shoot, who said that they did not have any film permits for a production scheduled to shoot with helicopters in the area on Thursday.
One Community Board 4 member said they had heard a private police foundation dinner at the Intrepid Museum on W46th Street was the reason for the circling helicopters, which flew over 10th and 11th Avenues as a part of the evening’s events, though this remains unconfirmed.
The offices of City Council Member Erik Bottcher and Gale Brewer also replied that they had not received notice of the choppers. A representative from Brewer’s office, however, did offer a new tool for residents wondering what’s circling up above — Flight Radar 24, an iPhone and Android-friendly app that allows users to check in real-time whether a helicopter or plane is owned by the NYPD, military, a production crew, or private pilot — and where it’s headed.
We’ll keep our flight radars at the ready and our eyes to the sky to ID the next unknown flyover…