air-noise-pollution

What You Can Do Today –
To Impact Tomorrow!

The following is a step-by-step mechanism used to register your distaste for Air Noise Pollution (ANP) over Verde Valley skies. Step #1 is a brief history of the Fly Friendly voluntary agreement. If you haven’t read it, start there. Otherwise, start with step #2.

1) History of The Fly Friendly Agreement

The air noise pollution problem around Sedona airport is complicated by ownership issues. Despite being surrounded by the City of Sedona land zoned as Community Facilities, the airport itself is owned by Yavapai County. All revenue from the airport accrues to Yavapai County coffers. Further complicating the structure are FAA bureaucrats who Congress appoints to regulate the behavior of all aircraft after they have left the runway. There is an existing legal precedent that allowed Sedona to impose regulations regarding ground-level noise from the airport. However, Yavapai County, which has no noise restrictions, is currently resisting any further attempts by Sedona to provide input regarding commercial expansion inside the airport boundary.

As Sedona became a more popular tourist destination, low flying helicopter tours became a major nuisance over many Sedona neighborhoods and cultural heritage sites.  Over several months, local, county, and federal officials as well as KSB and the Sedona Chamber of Commerce sat at the table with managers and pilots from the tourist helicopter companies to hammer out a voluntary agreement designed to minimize the air noise disruptions.  That agreement subsequently became known as the Fly Friendly agreement. 

The Fly Friendly voluntary agreement is an arrangement to circumvent all the competing political interests with a unifying document agreed to by all the stakeholders.

Despite being voluntary, the agreement has made a meaningful contribution to reducing air noise pollution even though it is limited to tourist helicopter charter flights departing from the Sedona airport. Currently, there is no similar arrangement between the stakeholders and private or commercial pilots flying fixed-wing aircraft.

Learn more about the history of the Fly Friendly voluntary agreement with the helicopter tour operators.

2) Sign the National Petition

If you want to do something meaningful to reduce air traffic noise and improve the quality of life in the entire US, start with the link below, which takes you to The National Quiet Skies Petition. The petition seeks to reform the FAA bureaucracy to make it more responsive to the citizenry whose taxes pay the FAA bureaucrat’s salaries. The language used in the petition was drawn from the congressional Quiet Skies Caucus, engaged citizens, and community organizations from across the United States. If you don’t want to do it for yourself, do it for your children. Air noise is likely to get worse if nothing is done.

Here is the link: https://nqsc.org/Petition.php

If you are intrigued about who the congressional Quiet Skies Caucus members are, this link will take you to the members. If your congressperson isn’t on the list, you might want to send an email to them asking “Why not?”. As of May 2022, there were 52 members of Congress who have signed on.

Note: Tom O’Halleran and Paul Gosar are not members of the Congressional Quiet Skies Caucus.

The following link lists those members: https://nqsc.org/Caucus.html
This is KSB’s list of elected officials: https://www.keepsedonabeautiful.org/contact-your-elected-officials/

3) Next Step – How to Register Noise Complaints

sedona-airport-noise-report-logoIf you have an air noise complaint regarding Verde Valley tourist helicopters, register your displeasure with the Sedona Oak Creek Airport Authority (SOCAA).

If you already registered a complaint on the SOCAA website, it might make sense to escalate the problem to the FAA’s own complaint reporting website.  Did you see or hear illegal aircraft activity?  Aircraft flying too low over populated areas?  Flying in restricted zones such as Red Rock Heritage zones, Tuzigoot National Monument, etc.?  Helicopters landing on Red Rock formations – yes, it’s happened.

FAA NoiseThe URL below will take you to the appropriate FAA website to register complaints about illegal activity in the Verde Valley:
https://www.faa.gov/about/office_org/headquarters_offices/ara/western_pacific

For general information regarding FAA rules and regulations,  or questions about what constitutes illegal aircraft flight activity, contact the FAA Flight Standards District Office(FSDO) in Scottsdale.  They are responsible for the Verde Valley airspace.
https://www.faa.gov/about/office_org/field_offices/fsdo/sdl

4) The National Quiet Skies Coalition

The URL below will take you to the National Quiet Skies Coalition (NQSC). It contains a wealth of information regarding the problem of air noise pollution.
https://nqsc.org/Organizations.html

5) Address of Elected Officials

To contact local elected officials, follow these links:

District 1 (Sedona) US Congressman Tom O’Halleran
https://ohalleran.house.gov/

District 4 (Cottonwood, Clarkdale, and Jerome) US Congressman Paul Gosar
https://gosar.house.gov/

Yavapai County Supervisor Donna Michaels
https://supervisordonnamichaels.com/

View more Arizona elected officials.

6) Verde Valley Regional Airport

Looking forward, there is the possibility that a new regional airport could be located in a TBD location in the Verde Valley away from crowded population centers. The design from planning to implementation would focus on the sustainability of resources. The new regional airport would be a Yavapai County showcase and something that the planners and developers would be proud to leave not just for themselves, but for their grandchildren and beyond.

A Verde Valley Regional Airport (VVRA) would aid in the development of economic growth in the entire Verde Valley region. In addition to meeting the growth of transportation in Verde Valley, its focus would also be on economic development with a vision for the future – a future that assumes continued growth in sustainable and desirable tourism, agriculture, and ranching. A new VVRA would also contribute permanent jobs to preserve the economy of the Verde Valley. The new regional airport will contribute greatly to the economic health of the region by adding high skill/high pay jobs in the aeronautical industry. In addition to being a focal point for visitors who require transportation into and out of the Cottonwood and Sedona communities, it will also serve as a jumping-off point for visitors to the many National Parks in Northern Arizona and Utah.

Developing a new airport is not a simple task. Even before the runway groundbreaking, there would be investigations required to justify the lofty goals of the VVRA. Where will the airport be located? Is there access to water? Are the winds suitable for aircraft takeoff and landing in the new location? Will surrounding fauna and flora be adversely affected? How will a new airport affect the noise levels in and around adjacent communities and federal forests? Can sustainable growth support the increase in expected tourism and business travel? Where will the housing come from to support the increase in jobs associated with an increase in sustainable growth?

All of these questions require answers prior to large-scale investment in a potential VVRA. Let’s get started! Write and call the Yavapai County Board of Supervisors to voice your support for a Verde Valley Regional Airport.

Their website is located here: https://yavapaiaz.gov/bos/

board-of-supervisors-yavapai