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Old 08-08-2013, 11:57 AM
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Why do helicopters circle my house?

Yesterday, the normal thumping sound of that indicates a helicopter is overhead was even louder than usual. When I looked out the window a small helicopter was hovering over my front yard. The neighbor kids were waving and, I think, the guys in the copter were waving back. Then it moved down the road a little ways and hovered for a while, then moved on. Other than how low it was yesterday, this is a fairly normal occurrence in my neighborhood (Northern Virginia.) I've seen three or four types, from the tiny kind yesterday to what looks like traffic or maybe police helicopters. Probably once a week or more (I'm not normally home during the day) I'll notice the sound coming and going for a half hour or more as it seems to be making passes through the neighborhood. It is really annoying.

Anybody else seen, and heard, this? I used to think it might be a traffic copter because we live near the beltway but it is definitely over our area, not just passing through. We also have a powerline nearby that they could be inspecting, but surely not every week. They can't be looking for escaped criminals that often. Do the police look for drugs this way?

The wife says call the police. I say that if they know what the helicopters are doing (looking for drugs) then they aren't going to tell me. But who else to ask? Ah yes, the Dope.
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Old 08-08-2013, 12:02 PM
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You live near a major highway? News/traffic copter.
Old 08-08-2013, 12:03 PM
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Been doing any unusual travelling lately? Living in a house faaaaaar beyond your means?

OK, that second question was a joke: you're in NoVa like me, where EVERYONE is living in a too-expensive house

It certainly couldn't hurt to call the police's non-emergency number, or depending on your locale, ask your county commissioner or whatever. A year or two back, I saw some odd-looking vans parked in the median of the Parkway several days in a row, and emailed my districtsupervisor. His office did a little digging and got back to me a couple of days later.

Or ask the neighbors of anyone knows anything.

Do let us know if you get any unexpected visitors from serious-looking guys with dark glasses, body armor, and black jackets with large white letters on them!
Old 08-08-2013, 12:17 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shiftless View Post
.....The wife says call the police. I say that if they know what the helicopters are doing (looking for drugs) then they aren't going to tell me. But who else to ask? Ah yes, the Dope.
The helicopters have large numbers printed on their sides. Copy the number and contact local airports or the FAA looking for answers. Who owns the copter? Are they for lease? Who leased it on whatever date.

Unless it's a police copter, PDs wouldn't know who the copter belonged to or what it was doing.
Old 08-08-2013, 12:21 PM
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Why do helicopters circle my house?

Because it smells like carrion? Oh, you said helicopters.

Yeah, look up the numbers on the helicopter here.
Old 08-08-2013, 12:42 PM
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Good tip Sicks Ate,. They are very low and the view is often blocked by trees. I will keep my camera ready to capture the number.

Quote:
Originally Posted by doorhinge View Post
Unless it's a police copter, PDs wouldn't know who the copter belonged to or what it was doing.
That's what I'm thinking. But do the police have the ability to stop it? I mean, does their power extend into the sky? At the end of this I plan to complain to someone so I need to know who it is and who can do something about it.
Old 08-08-2013, 01:55 PM
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Originally Posted by shiftless View Post
.....That's what I'm thinking. But do the police have the ability to stop it? I mean, does their power extend into the sky? At the end of this I plan to complain to someone so I need to know who it is and who can do something about it.
Unless you've made an official complaint to the PD concerning the theft of your helicopter, landing on your roof, or stuff falling off the copter onto your property or your head, there's not much the PD could do.

The FAA contols the airspace (above 1000 ft ????) and can pull the license of any pilot it finds in violation of it's rules and federal/state laws. It can also ground aircraft.

If the copters have a legitimate reason for flying over your house, there's probably not much you can do. Be nice and ask them to limit their flight times?????

This could be a police operation, or a untility company checking it's right-of-ways, or maybe there's a nudist colony that you don't know about.
Old 08-08-2013, 02:21 PM
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I spent the better part of an afternoon last week watching a helicopter crop-dusting some fields at the top of the bluffs across the road, but it doesn't sound like that kind of activity would explain the 'copters in your neighborhood. Could they be realty companies or property assessors taking aerial shots?
Old 08-08-2013, 02:33 PM
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When I lived in L.A., helicopters would orbit for hours at a time. Of course, people blamed Santa Monica Airport. In reality, it was the LAPD looking for someone. Happened all the time down there.

If there is a field near you, helicopters may be using it as a training area.

Under FAR 91.119(c), helicopters may operate below the minimum altitudes specified for fixed-wing aircraft, as long as people or property on the surface are not endangered.
Old 08-08-2013, 02:40 PM
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The LR police helicopter trains on Fridays, and always passes over a particular neighborhood.
Their is a hospital on the other side of the freeway, and the four buildings in a square at my place of employment apparently is a landmarker they use on approach.
It may be something like that.
Old 08-08-2013, 02:44 PM
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Bet they's Revenoors, trackin' moonshiners movin' their product! I seen it on th' Discovery Channel!
Old 08-08-2013, 02:47 PM
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When I was living in the boonies, an aircraft with a strange antenna on it circled around at low level, presumably looking for folks growing dope.
Old 08-08-2013, 02:56 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by carnivorousplant View Post
When I was living in the boonies, an aircraft with a strange antenna on it circled around at low level, presumably looking for folks growing dope.
Could also have been Fish and Game or some university's field biologists tracking specimens wearing radio collars. I know they do this in Florida with endangered panthers.
Old 08-08-2013, 03:01 PM
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Originally Posted by doorhinge View Post
........, or maybe there's a nudist colony that you don't know about.
Exactly. If there is someone growing pot or running a still or playing nude vollyball in my neighborhood, I need to know. As a concerned citizen, of course.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sudden Kestrel View Post
Could they be realty companies or property assessors taking aerial shots?
Could be. Hadn't thought of that one. I'm making a list as it could be more than one thing since I've seen multiple types of helicopters.

Last edited by shiftless; 08-08-2013 at 03:01 PM. Reason: fat fingers
Old 08-08-2013, 03:04 PM
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My guess is either news choppers or support for ground crews like police. In L.A., there are both. The police are chasing or apprehending a suspect, and they call in choppers to provide backup and another angle. Very annoying at night when they are shining a big spotlight in everyone's windows and yards.

When the North Hollywood bank robbery happened, there were 6 (count 'em, six!) news helicopters, all lined up in the sky, hovering over the area for hours.
Old 08-08-2013, 03:55 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shiftless View Post
Exactly. If there is someone growing pot or running a still or playing nude vollyball in my neighborhood, I need to know. As a concerned citizen, of course.


Old 08-08-2013, 04:01 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shiftless View Post
Yesterday, the normal thumping sound of that indicates a helicopter is overhead was even louder than usual. When I looked out the window a small helicopter was hovering over my front yard. The neighbor kids were waving and, I think, the guys in the copter were waving back. Then it moved down the road a little ways and hovered for a while, then moved on. Other than how low it was yesterday, this is a fairly normal occurrence in my neighborhood (Northern Virginia.) I've seen three or four types, from the tiny kind yesterday to what looks like traffic or maybe police helicopters. Probably once a week or more (I'm not normally home during the day) I'll notice the sound coming and going for a half hour or more as it seems to be making passes through the neighborhood. It is really annoying.

Anybody else seen, and heard, this?
I used to live half-way between Fort Meyer & Clarendon Metro and at least once a week they'd have choppers circling. Presumably on practice flights.

Last edited by Skywatcher; 08-08-2013 at 04:05 PM.
Old 08-08-2013, 04:04 PM
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Could be worse. Where I live, every so often, helicopters circle and blare out some kind of spoken message over a big P.A. system. Usually, I can't make out the words at all.

(Once, I went outside and listened more carefully. They were giving the description of a missing child.)
Old 08-08-2013, 04:13 PM
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Originally Posted by Trinopus View Post
(Once, I went outside and listened more carefully. They were giving the description of a missing child.)
That sounds kind of cool, but then I've never had loudspeakers from a helicopter blasting my house.
Old 08-08-2013, 05:01 PM
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Last time they did that around here they were looking for bank robbers.
Old 08-08-2013, 05:05 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mama Zappa View Post
His office did a little digging and got back to me a couple of days later.
So, what happened?

Black helicopters sometimes fly over my house, too, but that's because there's a National Guard facility several miles away.
Old 08-09-2013, 07:23 AM
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In my area, some helicopters are used for hunters.

Quote:
Originally Posted by doorhinge View Post
The helicopters have large numbers printed on their sides. Copy the number and contact local airports or the FAA looking for answers. Who owns the copter? Are they for lease? Who leased it on whatever date.

Unless it's a police copter, PDs wouldn't know who the copter belonged to or what it was doing.
That's good advice, but the numbers are not necessarily that large and difficult to read. 12” (height) numbers are only required on planes/helicopters that are capable of traveling something like 200 mph (or close to that) leveled out. Otherwise, it’s something like 2” or 3” number is all that is legally required.

I was supposed to get the 12” lettering on my plane, but the builder fudged the speed of it ever so slightly. Not up to no good, but damn, those 12” numbers look awfully damn ugly on a small plane to me.
Old 08-09-2013, 07:36 AM
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Do you live relatively close to a small airport? Most people do, and they don't even realize it. I'm with Johnny L.A., it sounds to me like flight training. Perhaps see if there's a helicopter flight school in the area, and go visit to see what it's all about.
Old 08-09-2013, 07:59 AM
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Originally Posted by StrangerThanFiction View Post
Do you live relatively close to a small airport? Most people do, and they don't even realize it. I'm with Johnny L.A., it sounds to me like flight training. Perhaps see if there's a helicopter flight school in the area, and go visit to see what it's all about.
National airport is sort of close by, maybe 8 miles away. We are sometimes in the flight path of the planes coming or going there, depending on the wind I suppose. Fort Belvior is nearby too. There appear to be all kinds of helocopter services around there. None of this explains why they need to circle my neighborhood so often and so low.

A Google seach tells me I live within minutes of both the Helicopter Association International and the American Helicopter Society. Who knew?! It's a wonder I don't hear the damned things every day.
Old 08-09-2013, 08:06 AM
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Perhaps there's some bigwig at HAI or AHS that lives down the street, and everybody's just swinging by to say hey!
Old 08-09-2013, 08:11 AM
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Or a neighbor who sunbathes in the fenced backyard.
Old 08-09-2013, 11:31 AM
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Do they even have traffic helicopters anymore? I know on the beltway, they have cameras.

Between cameras and cell phone tracking, I would be surprised if they still use them.
Old 08-09-2013, 11:59 AM
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shiftless, Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones will be by shortly, they'll be wearing dark shades and black suits. They're gonna ask you to stare into 'this' device. DON'T DO IT!!
Old 08-09-2013, 12:03 PM
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Originally Posted by Shakes View Post
shiftless, Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones will be by shortly, they'll be wearing dark shades and black suits. They're gonna ask you to stare into 'this' device. DON'T DO IT!!
What were we talking about?
Old 08-09-2013, 03:25 PM
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Originally Posted by carnivorousplant View Post
What were we talking about?
Shakes is referring to the Neuralyzer device used by Agents J and K in the "Men in Black" movie series. If you don't remember it, it's because they've already used it on you, at least once.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neuralyzer
Old 08-09-2013, 03:44 PM
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Originally Posted by doorhinge View Post
Shakes is referring to the Neuralyzer device used by Agents J and K in the "Men in Black" movie series. If you don't remember it, it's because they've already used it on you, at least once.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neuralyzer
carnivorousplant was playing along with the joke. As if he'd been "Neuralized."
Old 08-09-2013, 04:07 PM
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What the hell are you two talking about?

Hey! What is tha
Old 08-09-2013, 05:42 PM
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Bets it's a Helicopter Flight School. Pilot training.
And there's some feature on the ground, easily visible, that they use as a navigation mark.
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Old 08-09-2013, 05:51 PM
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32 posts and nobody brings up the username post combo?
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