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

  • Streep, Meyers and 'Moonlight' to be honoured at LGBTQ gala

    Entertainment CTV News
    NEW YORK -- Actress Meryl Streep, TV host Seth Meyers, and the Golden Globe-winning movie "Moonlight" will be honoured next month by the Human Rights Campaign, the LGBTQ civil rights organization. The award for "Moonlight," a coming-of-age film about a black gay youth, will be accepted by Tarell Alvin McCraney, the author of the play on which the film is based. Source
  • Tupac biopic 'All Eyez on Me' gets release date on late singer's birthday

    Entertainment CTV News
    On what would have been the late rapper's 46th birthday - June 16 - Tupac's biopic "All Eyez on Me" will be released by Lionsgate, according to the Hollywood Reporter. Following the life of the rapper Tupac Shakur (1971-1996), the "All Eyez on Me" movie is named after Tupac's fourth studio album from 1996 which sold more than 10 million copies. Source
  • Film about 1960s black mathematicians tops box office 2nd week in a row

    Entertainment CTV News
    NEW YORK -- "Hidden Figures," the uplifting film about African-American mathematicians at NASA during the 1960s space race, led the North American box office for the second straight week, selling $27.5 million in tickets over the Martin Luther King Jr. Source
  • Tom Hardy, Aidan Turner front-runners as next James Bond

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    Tom Hardy, Aidan Turner, and James Norton have emerged as the latest front-runners to succeed Daniel Craig as James Bond. The three actors are 3/1 to take on 007 when Craig decides to step down as the superspy. Source
  • CBC News nabs dozens of Canadian Screen Awards nominations

    Entertainment CBC News
    Flanked by its flagship news broadcast, local reporting and special programming, CBC News is set to march in to the Canadian Screen Awards with 33 television nominations. The National picked up eight nominations — four of them coming from the Best News or Information Segment, which has five total nominees — while TV newsmagazine the fifth estate nabbed four and consumer advocacy program Marketplace three. Source
  • Sam Moore to sing at Trump inaugural event

    Entertainment CTV News
    NASHVILLE -- Sam Moore of the soul duo Sam and Dave has been added to the list of performers for President-elect Donald Trump's inaugural events. Moore told The Associated Press on Tuesday that he felt that the criticism levelled at singer Jennifer Holliday, which led to her to back out of the event, was unfair. Source
  • Police: Man posed as Bieber online to extort nude photos

    Entertainment CTV News
    LOS ANGELES -- A Massachusetts man was arrested on suspicion of soliciting nude photos from a 9-year-old California girl while posing online as Justin Bieber, authorities said Tuesday. Bryan Asrary was taken into custody Dec. Source
  • Man posed as Justin Bieber online to extort nude photos: police

    Entertainment CTV News
    LOS ANGELES -- A Massachusetts man was arrested on suspicion of soliciting nude photos from a 9-year-old California girl while posing online as Justin Bieber, authorities said Tuesday. Bryan Asrary was taken into custody Dec. Source
  • 'He's got a big mouth, like me:' Soul singer Sam Moore signs on for Trump inauguration concert

    Entertainment CBC News
    Sam Moore of the soul duo Sam and Dave has been added to the list of performers for President-elect Donald Trump's inaugural events. Moore told The Associated Press on Tuesday that he felt that the criticism levelled at singer Jennifer Holliday, which led to her to back out of the event, was unfair. Source
  • 'Heyyyyy!' Critch and Chachi bring their Twitter battle to 22 Minutes

    Entertainment CBC News
    St John's comedian Mark Critch and Happy Days star Scott Baio will try and put their twitter feud behind them on tonight's episode of CBC's This Hour Has 22 Minutes.Chachi trolls Critchi: Comedian Mark Critch gets a rise out of Scott Baio"I have no idea who you are. Source