Helicopter and Plane Rides Over Golden Gate Could Be Subjected to New Rules

Federal authorities could restrict the airplane and helicopter tours companies offer over the Golden Gate

Dramatic views of the Marin mountains, the San Francisco skyline and the iconic Golden Gate Bridge are popular -- so, too, are the helicopter and airplane rides offered by private companies to enjoy these views. But much of that awesome landscape is protected federal land, and now the Federal Aviation Administration and National Park Service are working on a public plan that could limit these airborne tours, according to the Marin Independent Journal.

Two companies offer tours over the area: San Francisco Helicopter Tours and San Francisco Seaplane Tours. The FAA allows up to 2,900 flights over the area per year, but under the new rules, the FAA could limit the number of trips, how long the trips can go and where, in order to protect wildlife -- and residents -- from noise.

"There are concerns for wildlife being flushed out and being disturbed by hovering aircraft. It affects sea lions as well as birds," Alexandra Picavet, a spokeswoman with the National Park Service, told the newspaper.

The timing is no accident, either: with the America's Cup race coming to the area in 2013 and with the Golden Gate Bridge celebrating its 75 anniversary in May, a spike in tourism to the area is expected.

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