Uber for helicopters? Chopper flights resume at Sundance despite sheriff's order

PARK CITY, Utah -- Uber plans to resume helicopter flights at the Sundance Film Festival on Saturday in spite of a cease-and-desist order from a Utah sheriff who says he could arrest pilots who land near Park City.

See Full Article

The ride-hailing company's decision comes after a judge ruled that there wasn't enough evidence to ground the choppers during the star-studded opening weekend.

Summit County Sheriff Justin Martinez said that he could still ticket or arrest pilots because the companies didn't get the proper permits to land in a field not far from homes in the mountain town. "I don't want to arrest people and take them to jail. But that is an option available to me," he said.

Uber and the helicopter companies say they tried to work with local authorities, but they argue that zoning laws don't apply to air travel and there was no permit to apply for. The flights Saturday are dependent on weather, but otherwise set to take off as planned, Uber spokeswoman Taylor Patterson said.

"We've seen a ton of interest, people are really excited about it," Patterson said.

On Thursday, Uber began offering to ferry visitors by helicopter about 40 miles from the Salt Lake City airport to the Robert Redford-founded festival in Park City. The company is charging $200 one-way during the day and $300 at night, with lower prices for customers who book ahead.

Summit County moved to block the choppers the next day, after getting hundreds of complaints about the landings in a rural field beloved by sandhill cranes not far from homes, prosecutor Robert Hilder said. "It was the people who came storming into Sundance, started flying their helicopters and landing them," he said.

But at a late-afternoon hearing Friday, Judge Kara Pettit decided prosecutors didn't have enough evidence for a restraining order that would have grounded the choppers. She'll take up the case again Monday, though that would come after the end of Uber's helicopter service to Park City.

"There are just too many questions and issues to be able to enter an order today that there's been a violation," she said.

The sheriff, though, says he sees that as a civil proceeding separate from his criminal jurisdiction, and one that won't be fully decided until next week.

The helicopter companies say they did try to work with the county, even striking a last-minute deal to land the copters at a helipad owned by the sheriff's office instead. Martinez said he ultimately decided it wasn't right to let a private business use public resources.

Lawyers for the helicopter companies say the zoning rules are meant for construction and development. They pointed to other issues with the quickly filed suit, including the exact owner of the land the choppers are using. "This case just can't get out of the blocks," attorney David Jordan said.

While some people in Summit County have private aircraft they land within the county occasionally, the Uber flights are commercial and bring more health and safety concerns, from noise to accessibility if there's an accident, Hilder said. Ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft have run into regulatory troubles before, but it's less common with the fledgling Uber Chopper service.

"This is an interesting case. It deals with a lot that's happened in the world and happened very quickly," Hilder said. "You essentially have a revolution in transportation."



Advertisements

Latest Entertainment News

  • Big Brother, Preacher and Gypsy top this week’s TV must-sees

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    Big Brother 19 Season Premiere It isn’t officially summer until a new batch of quirky houseguests enters the Big Brother house for a summer of strategic lies and competitive backstabbing. Luckily, the reality TV summer staple kicks off with a two-hour premiere, with Julie Chen returning to her hosting post on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Sundays until the winner is crowned this fall. Source
  • Stephen Colbert 'announces' 2020 presidential run on Russia TV

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    For Russian ears only: Stephen Colbert is running for president of the United States in 2020. In an appearance Friday on the Russian late-night show "Evening Urgant," "The Late Show" host sat on the other side of the desk for once, bantering with host Ivan Urgant through a translator and playing "Russian roulette" with a tray of vodka-filled shot glasses and pickles. Source
  • Bradley Cooper makes surprise appearance on Glastonbury Festival stage

    Entertainment CBC News
    Actor Bradley Cooper surprised fans by taking the stage at the Glastonbury Festival Friday, since he wasn't exactly part of the lineup. The Hangover star was shooting a scene for the upcoming film A Star Is Born, which he is also directing. Source
  • Gaga on gay pride: It's a time to shine light on equality

    Entertainment CTV News
    NEW YORK -- Lady Gaga, a longtime supporter of gay rights, says pride weekend is a time to shine a light on equality. "This weekend is a time for us all to reflect on the importance of tolerance and the importance of bravery and kindness, (and) the importance of us supporting one another," the pop star said in an interview with The Associated Press on Friday. Source
  • Jeremy Corbyn gets rock star welcome at Glastonbury Festival

    Entertainment CTV News
    LONDON (AP) -- Britain's famed Glastonbury music festival has embraced an unlikely headline act: Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn. Corbyn, 68, received a rock star welcome from thousands of festival-goers, who chanted his name and held up signs that read "I love Jeremy Corbyn" as he took to the festival's main stage. Source
  • U2's Joshua Tree 30th Anniversary Tour

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    If you didn’t get a chance to see U2 at their remaining Canadian stop in Toronto at the Rogers Centre Friday night, there’s still a chance to get in the car, cross the border and catch them on Sept. Source
  • U2 gives it all but fans want more [Photos]

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    “Set me alight — we’ll punch a hole right through the night!” sang U2 frontman Bono on The Joshua Tree’s evocatively cinematic tune, In God’s Country, at Rogers Centre Friday night. And so the Irish band did. Source
  • 'Downward Dog' cancelled by ABC after one 8-episode season [Video]

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    LOS ANGELES — ABC’s freshman sitcom Downward Dog has been cancelled by ABC, the show’s executive producer said. The last two of the show’s eight episodes will air Tuesday, executive producer Jimmy Miller said Friday. ABC “loved it creatively and wanted to do more, but could not figure out a way to get it done financially,” Miller said in a statement. Source
  • Tommy Lee Jones to play Brad Pitt's father in space epic 'Ad Astra'?

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    Tommy Lee Jones is close to signing on for Brad Pitt’s upcoming sci-fi epic Ad Astra. According to Deadline, the Men in Black star is in final talks to star in writer/director James Gray’s film, which will begin shooting in September. Source
  • Richard Linklater's daughter Lorelei busted for coke possession

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    Director Richard Linklater’s daughter Lorelei has been sentenced to three years’ probation for cocaine possession. The 23-year-old actress, who starred in her father’s Oscar-winning 2014 film Boyhood, was arrested after her car collided with another vehicle on a highway near Waco, Texas, in May last year. Source