Company Stops Helicopter Rides For Dogs After Outcry From Schumer, Animal Activists

WCBS 880 Newsroom
September 10, 2019 - 8:29 am
Chuck Schumer and Bob Menendez

WCBS 880

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NEW YORK (WCBS 880) -- A tour company has stopped taking dogs on helicopter rides over the city after an outcry from animal rights activists and two senators.

PETA announced late Monday that FlyNYON would stop the flights just a day after Sen. Chuck Schumer and Sen. Bob Menendez came together to accuse the company of threatening the lives of dogs as well as people.

"Dogs are OFF the #FlyNYON's open-door helicopter rides!" PETA tweeted. 

Schumer responded on Twitter, writing: "Thank you so much for working together on this, @PETA. Dangerous doors-off flights are not meant for social media enthusiasts & their innocent dogs. And now, FlyNYON should consider axing these dangerous doors-off flights altogether before more lives are lost."

Schumer had called the dog tours "cruel" on Sunday: “It’s just outrageous that they do it.”

The company offered a discount for owners who brought their dogs along for helicopter rides over the city. FlyNyon said it was for a good cause.

FlyNyon addressed the “Pilots n Paws” discount for dogs in a statement to WCBS 880: “The facts are simple. Today, we are focused on raising money to help these animals and their human partners that are on the frontline of supporting recovery efforts like those of hurricane Dorian, not trying to score political points.”

Schumer and Menendez on Sunday also accused FlyNyon of using a loophole to continue offering “dangerous” doors-off helicopter flights.

A Liberty helicopter chartered by FlyNyon went down in the East River on March 11 of last year, leading to the drowning deaths of five people.

“We do not want this to be repeated again,” Schumer said at the 34th Street heliport on Manhattan’s East Side.

The FAA clamped down on doors-off flights after the crash, but Schumer said FlyNyon is still offering them thanks to a loophole.

“They call it the ‘aerial photography loophole.’ If you’re taking aerial photography, you can keep a door open,” Schumer said.

But the senator said that’s meant for professional and commercial purposes, not for tourists.

FlyNyon responded to that accusation as well: “FlyNyon is fully compliant with all FAA operating and safety standards. We appreciate and stand ready to support smart actions that allow for enhanced helicopter safety in New York and New Jersey. We invite both Senators Schumer and Menendez on Monday to our office to discuss this very important matter."