Smokymountains News reports “Save Our Skies” coalition has organized to protest sight seeing helicopters in the Smokies. Helicopters on the Cherokee site of the park have increased with the new casino.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“YouÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve got nothing to do on that side of the park,Ã¢â‚¬Â said Jim Garst manager of Cherokee Helicopters. The rides cost $15/person and brings in $400,000 annually. Garst said the helicopters have also been used for rescues, airlifted logs to volunteers building shelters on the Appalachian Trail, and searched for Challenger debris.
Cherokee say they are noisy with perhaps 50 flights a day. Pigeon Forge successfully fought a lengthy battle to ban its sister company Great Smoky Mountain Helicopters which ultimately went to the Tennessee Supreme Court.
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