On Wednesday, December 10th, Kittery Town Councilors Charles Denault (me) and Kenneth Lemont met with the Owner of Seacoast Helicopters, Bruce Cultrera at the home base hanger of Seacoast Helicopters at Pease. The meeting was very informative and the Owner Bruce Cultrera was more than happy to meet with us.
Ken Lemont, Bruce Cultrera and Chuck Denault
We discussed the concerns of the handful of residents concerned with the business flight paths. Cultrera said he was aware the concerns since he follows local events being a local resident. Bruce is the son of the Retired Traip teacher, Mr. Sabastian Cultrera.
Bruce Cultrera said he was excited to talk with us and said this was the first time, he was approached by the Town. We brought with us questions from various residents.
Ken Lemont brought up a few of the concerns about hovering over the houses and low passes. Bruce explained his flight paths for sightseeing and instruction has been set up to follow the Piscataqua river to around Nuble light and then to Agamenticus Mountain and returning to Pease.
Cultrera adamantly rebuffs hovering over houses and says his average flight speed is 85 to 130 knots and at or above 1000 feet AGL (Above Ground Level) although it looks slow from the ground, its moving right along in the air.
Except for deviations to his flight path and plans, this will be the flight plan he intends to follow to minimize complaints. Most of it is over water and woodlands. Deviations can be as a result of air traffic in the area of planes on final approach to Pease or Littlebrook Airpark in Eliot which is located between Wilson Rd and Rte 236. (Yellow line is the Flight path and could be a mile wide, the red figure 8 shows Littlebrook landing patterns).
However, very infrequently but at times, Cultrera says he may have a Kittery resident request to fly over their homes to take a picture or two. His altitude will be per the Federal Regulations and he assures us that he is well aware of the concerns, and wants to be community friendly and will take any steps necessary to avoid complaints if possible.
Cultrera also stated “there are a couple of helicopter pilots that live in Kittery and if they rent our aircraft, they could tend to fly around their home town to bring their friends up, incidentally, one pilot lives in Kittery Point and is recently finishing up his pilot license with another company.”
As for height, we asked if raising the ceiling of the flight a few hundred feet would make a difference. Cultrera stated if it would he would consider it if it did but said would take a few thousand feet to change the noise. A helicopter produces down thrusts and the noise and vibrations follow the path of air known as a down wash. In an airplane, the prop blast is horizontal and is broken up by the aerodynamics of the plane as it is blasted backwards. Federal Regulations allow very little altutude over water, 500 feet over un populated areas and 1000 feet above populated areas. Helicopters can land just about anywhere and can have more lenient rules.
While we were meeting with Cultrera, another helicopter landed that was not even related to Seacoast helicopters.
In the coastal area, helicopters come and go regularly and Central Maine Power even has a helicopter that they hover just above the power lines that run from the Kittery Shipyard along Rte 236 as well as across Wilson Rd. and along I-95. CMP routinely checks the lines with a man sitting in the side door with a meter on a pole. These helicopters fly very close to the tops of the power lines.
Recently it was estimated there were at least 75 helicopters in the local Seacoast area and growing. Cultrera owns only three, one is a jet helicopter for Charters that go away from the area, the others are for training and sight-seeing since 3 people can go at once along with the pilot. Many times, there is only one helicopter being used at any given time. As for the infamous Red Helicopter, these are standard colors. there are white,blue and black in the area that are not his.
Helicopters including Cultrera’s will occasionally land at Littlebrook Airpark located on Beech Rd in Eliot. The flight path for this airport is from the Kittery Transfer station or Wilson Rd. towards the airport or from Goodwin Rd .or Marshwood Jr. high school towards the Airport.
Cultrera would like people to know he is a real business at Pease and if you have any concerns or would like to know more about Helicopters, he would love to talk with you. He assured us he will be sticking to that flight path for sight-seeing in order to keep complaints at bay.
Just put in the number and drop the letter N. it will tell you who it is registered to. American Aircrafts have the letter N preceding the number. try it, its something interesting at the least.
As we ended our conversation Bruce Cultrera assured us he is aware of the issue and would do what he could to minimize any complaints but reminded us that he has to follow all the Federal Regulations, he is required by federal law to have his helicopters inspected frequently and have all the proper insurance and federal certificates in order to fly.
NOTE: It is obvious to anyone that Helicopters make noise as do sirens, foghorns, planes, trucks and loud motorcycles, dogs and lawn mowers. Living by an airport makes it more prevalent.
As anything that travels past, the noise leaves with it, but we all agree it gets old when its every few minutes. Bruce Cultrera is aware of these concerns and believes by trying to stay on the flight path described, will minimize any issues in Kittery and surrounding towns. Cultrera also noted, “not all the red helicopters are his”.
Until then, lets see if it gets better. Below is a map of all the local airports as a point of interest. Myself and Ken Lemont hope this helps clear the air. 🙂