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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…

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6 Comments

  1. That helicopter was so low, it had to be lower than the top floor of Manhattan Plaza. It was crazy how low, still and hovering it was. Let’s all commit to figuring out what and why the helicopter was so low and still and not let it fall by the wayside. 🧐

  2. Good on ya’ guys for bringing this up.. (vomit! ) Meanwhile, the police have to do something to while away their time while ‘serving’ the public!
    That noise goes on all day long to support the tourist industry … OK to give the coppers a bit of fun in the sky?! No wonder Newyorks are fleeing to their country abodes in the Hamptons! …. Bring back sanity for those of us who LOVED living here!

  3. I was working on the “Rybernia” set on Thursday and just want to confirm that the helicopter was NOT part of the crew. All filming took place indoors on 44th St. We want to remain friendly with the neighborhood as we will be back next week 🙂

  4. Was out for a run at the time and There was a huge NYPD event at and on the intrepid that evening with a lot of black suvs surrounded by hundreds of police in tactical gear on the water front so I’m guessing it was reheated to that event. Must have been high security event because there was an obscene amount of police activity and road closures with event parking right in the middle of the street.

  5. I visually observed the dangerously low Police helicopter less than 100ft above my 6 floor tenement apartment on West 46th street.

    The helicopter was N917PD, a Bell 429 Global Ranger operated by the NYPD. It took off at 8:18pm from the NYPD Aviation Unit (+1-718-692-1220) at Floyd Bennett Field in Brooklyn (50 Aviation Rd, Brooklyn, NY 11234) to which it returned at 9:21pm. The aircraft made a similar low level flight earlier that day over Queens around Whitestone.

    According to the aircraft’s ADS-B telemetry (available from FlightRadar24) and my own visual observations of it directly above my rooftop, it was hovering at roughly 350ft ASL in Hell’s Kitchen above buildings between 10th Avenue and along 46th Street to above the parking lot on Restaurant Row spending most of it’s time above the north side of the 400 block of West 46th St. It circled for the other half of it’s total time aloft along the Hudson River between the Intrepid and 79th St Boat Basin.

    Ground level on my block on 46th St is about 50ft ASL and buildings roughly reach 120ft tall along the flightpath, so figure ground level is 160ft and the ABS-B telemetry data records the aircraft flying under 350ft ASL while squawking 0253 suggesting it was fully intending to fly scant feet above the rooftops and puts this Police Helicopter at under 150ft above ground level. That’s dangerously low as there’s insufficient room to manouver and there were some mild wind gusts that evening that you could observe prevented the pilot from a steady hover. At that height and with the obstacles there is no ability to recover the aircraft if there should be an issue. It would have come down on my rooftop or that of St Clements Church. You could feel the downwash.

    Normally the public receives advance alerts through the Notify NYC app when aircraft are conducting overflights. For the NYPD to claim they don’t know what was going on is disingenuous at best and patently false as it was their own aircraft flown from their own facility. Given the dangerously low altitude and public nuisance our community deserves a better answer. Councilman Bottcher I call on you to request the NYPD account for their public endangerment.

  6. You people cry over everything grow up what did you expect when you live in a big city… The helicopter sound is far less audible than the sound of your liberal crying….. stay woke

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