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Company’s Aerial Tours over San Miguel Grounded

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Imagen aérea de San Miguel por Rusty Henson

By Jesús Aguado

A company that offered helicopter tours over San Miguel de Allende has been grounded after the city cited it for not obtaining proper flyover permits.

Helitour’s, flights over San Miguel, through the company Red Wings SA de CV, took off daily from the Ventanas golf course and residential compound despite, according to Secretary of the City Council Gonzalo González, not having a heliport permit.

The tours were the source of numerous noise complaints. Observatorio Ciudadano, a citizens’ rights organization, had submitted an open letter of protest over the tours to local authorities and media outlets. The letter cited not only noise pollution but also concern about the privacy of residents’ rooftops and gardens, given that the helicopters sometimes hovered.

Other local organizations’ complaints

The El Charco del Ingenio nature preserve and botanical garden petitioned the Department of Civil Aeronautics for public information on what permits had been issued to Red Wings for aerial tours. This petition pointed out that “besides the civil protection risks, the tours do not bring any financial benefit to San Miguel, since they are not provided by locals.”

El Charco’s petition said it was “incredible” that Red Wings was highlighting the botanical garden as one of its flyover attractions, when the noise posed a threat to the flora and fauna, including migratory birds that annually visit the preserve. El Charco insisted the noise would extend over its entire natural and scenic area, which they termed a touristic, cultural, and community attraction of great relevance to the city.

Sanmiguelenses Unidos, a citizens’ public safety organization, also expressed unhappiness about the tours. It had more than 100 attendees at its last meeting of the year on December 6.

Who stopped the flights?

Under pressure from the community, on December 2, the company operator called the local authorities to confirm that the company would no longer fly over San Miguel. González told Atención that since they began receiving complaints, they had established contact with the state’s Secretariat of Communications and Transportation, which told the city that the company had never obtained the proper permits to run the tours.

On December 3, Commander of Celaya Airport Martín Olalde Gámez issued a letter addressed to General Director of Red Wings Víctor Hernández Amor, requesting that he produce his company’s permits to fly over San Miguel, and requesting information on the company’s fleet and its pilots. If Red Wings didn’t produce the necessary permits, the authorities would act according to the law, the letter stated.

The next tour, scheduled for December 9, was cancelled. Atención called Helitour, asking about reserving a spot on its next flight over San Miguel, and was told the company did not currently have open dates but would in the future. Later, Rosaura Moreno, a representative with Helitour, said that their CEO would provide Atención more information about whether the company would apply for the proper permits or if the tours over San Miguel would be cancelled for good.

 

SIDEBAR

More Noise for San Miguel de Allende

This is a translation of an open letter Observatorio Ciudadano de los Sanmiguelenses, AC submitted to the local government and area media outlets:

Every day there are more complaints from the residents of our city about the high noise levels that we have to endure every day—from multiple weddings and noisy parties every weekend, from the fireworks that accompany these private parties, and from the annoying noise of the clubs and bars whose open terraces spread their music to every corner of the city.

Sanmiguelenses and local NGOs succeeded in canceling the ridiculous project of opening an airport within the city’s urban area, which would have brought the noise of planes taking off and landing 24 hours a day over the city center and the residential areas.

As if that were not enough, recreational flights were announced. Private helicopters have been flying over the city at low altitude. What is worse than the noise of a plane flying at low altitude? The noise of helicopters, which shakes houses and even the bones of the houses’ occupants!

With these tours, a few tourists will be able to take pictures of us in our gardens or on our terraces, and of the water tanks on our houses, while they annoy tens of thousands of residents and visitors of San Miguel de Allende with helicopter noise.

As always, the promoters of this reckless project are not even from San Miguel de Allende, so there will be no economic benefit to the city or its inhabitants. For us there will only be noise and a complete invasion of our privacy, further reducing our quality of life.

The residents of San Miguel de Allende and several NGOs are against this type of tourism, which undermines our safety and quality of life.

Readers of this letter can help by voicing their displeasure in writing and demanding that the promoters of this project be forced to literally fly away. It is also important to share our disagreement with the authorities that should be informed that citizens do not agree to authorize this type of pseudotourism. We invite you to send your comments and complaints to the municipal authorities.

 

Sincerely,

Observatorio Ciudadano de los Sanmiguelenses, AC

 

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