Be heard at sightseeing helicopter meeting

Staff Writer
The Destin Log

We interrupt The Log’s Tourism Heaven or Hell series to make an important announcement: There will be another meeting to discuss the sightseeing helicopter menace at the Destin City Hall Annex (same place as before). It will be hosted by the Federal Aviation Administration's Flight Standards District Office on Tuesday, Dec. 5 at 6 p.m. Here are a few pointers to make the most of this meeting when you speak:

Be specific. This meeting is about the loud and low-flying sightseeing helicopters only. It is not about any military training aircraft (including military helicopters) that are so essential to our local economy and to our national defense. The “sound of freedom” is necessarily loud and we are fortunate to be a part of it. We don’t want to do anything that would jeopardize this vital mission.

Neither is this meeting about the normal flight operations in and out of the Destin Executive Airport. That airport has existed far longer than any of the nearby residents that have since chosen to move there.

Be considerate of others who are waiting to speak. Don’t hog the mic. When recognized, state your concerns in a concise manner and then sit down so that others may speak. Keeping your remarks short is not only more considerate, it is more effective. We want to hear from everyone who wishes to voice his or her concerns. The more, the better.

Virtually everyone who attended the last meeting was opposed to these extremely loud and low-flying “Hell Choppers” operating at such inconsiderate and dangerously-low altitudes over our homes, our beaches and our businesses. There may be some valid reasons why people would be in favor of it, I just can’t think of one right now. However, everyone has a right to be heard, even if what they have to say is unpopular. Be polite, even if you don’t agree.

We will be there to come together and establish some sensible rules that respect the safety and quiet enjoyment of those on the ground and in the waters of our beautiful beaches.

Don’t be complacent just because the number of these sightseeing flights is down recently. The number of such flights varies directly with the number of tourists in town. When the tourists return in large numbers, so will the number of sightseeing flights. Come to think of it, that may be something to add to my recent Living in Tourism Hell column.

A high turnout is important. Please be there and be heard. You won’t regret it if you do. But you may regret it if you don’t.

Jack Simpson has owned and managed rental properties in Destin since 1974 and has lived in the city since 1983. His column is designed to start conversations in the community. To respond to Jack’s column in The Log, email your letter to the editor or guest column to To contact Jack directly, email