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

  • Timberlake previews new album in forest-like space, bugs and all

    Entertainment CTV News
    NEW YORK - If the latest photos from Justin Timberlake's new album campaign don't relay the message that he's into nature and the woods, his first listening for the project drove the point home. Tuesday's event in New York City to debut "Man of the Woods" was decorated with bushes and trees, while ants coated in black garlic and rose oil and grasshoppers were served. Source
  • Canadian producers remember vibrant creative partnerships with Dolores O'Riordan

    Entertainment CTV News
    TORONTO -- Canadian music producer Dan Brodbeck had collaborated on dozens of songs with Cranberries singer Dolores O'Riordan and was looking forward to even more in the years ahead. As recently as a few days ago, the singer was debating whether songs they had worked on together would be better suited for a solo album or a future project with her chart-topping rock band, which had a string of hits in the 1990s including "Dreams," "Linger" and "Zombie. Source
  • Matt Damon apologizes for comments on sexual misconduct

    Entertainment CTV News
    NEW YORK - Matt Damon says the backlash for his comments on sexual misconduct was actually very helpful. A few weeks ago, Damon told The Associated Press and other outlets that there were varying degrees of misconduct and the punishment should reflect that. Source
  • Lebanon bans The Post over Steven Spielberg's support for Israel

    Entertainment CBC News
    Lebanon's censorship authorities have effectively banned Steven Spielberg's newspaper drama, The Post, because the American director is on a regional blacklist for supporting Israel. The directive by the country's General Security agency still needs to be signed by Interior Minister Nouhad Machnouk to enter into effect, but that is considered a formality that is unlikely to stop the ban. Source
  • 'She's here!': Kim Kardashian West announces birth of 3rd child

    Entertainment CTV News
    Kim Kardashian West announced the birth of her third child with husband Kanye West on Tuesday, in a widely-circulated post on social media. “She’s here!” Kardashian West wrote in tweet with a link to a longer statement on her website. Source
  • Mila Kunis named woman of the year by Harvard's Hasty Pudding

    Entertainment CTV News
    CAMBRIDGE, Mass. - Golden Globe-nominated actress Mila Kunis has been named Woman of the Year by Harvard University's Hasty Pudding Theatricals. Hasty Pudding in its announcement Tuesday said it is honouring Kunis because she is one of Hollywood's "most sought after, vivacious, and engaging actresses. Source
  • Timothée Chalamet donates salary from Woody Allen film

    Entertainment CBC News
    Timothée Chalamet says he will donate his salary for an upcoming Woody Allen film to charities fighting sexual harassment and abuse, becoming the latest actor to publicly distance himself from the 82-year-old filmmaker. The breakout star of Call Me By Your Name announced on his Instagram account Tuesday that he didn't want to profit from his work on Allen's A Rainy Day in New York.Chalamet said he will give his salary to Time's Up, the LGBT Center in New York and RAINN. Source
  • 'This year has changed the way I see and feel:' Timothée Chalamet donates salary from Woody Allen film

    Entertainment CBC News
    Timothée Chalamet says he will donate his salary for an upcoming Woody Allen film to charities fighting sexual harassment and abuse, becoming the latest actor to publicly distance himself from the 82-year-old filmmaker. The breakout star of Call Me By Your Name announced on his Instagram account Tuesday that he didn't want to profit from his work on Allen's A Rainy Day in New York.Chalamet said he will give his salary to Time's Up, the LGBT Center in New York and RAINN. Source
  • DuVernay, 'black-ish,' 'Power' win at NAACP Image Awards

    Entertainment CTV News
    LOS ANGELES -- A jubilant Ava DuVernay was named entertainer of the year at an NAACP Image Awards ceremony that focused on the black community's power to create change. DuVernay lauded other black artists from the stage as she accepted her award Monday night, naming writers and directors such as Shonda Rhimes, Gina Prince-Bythewood, Kenya Barris and "Black Panther" Ryan Coogler. Source
  • Actor Timothee Chalamet says he will donate salary from Woody Allen film

    Entertainment CTV News
    NEW YORK - Timothee Chalamet says he will donate his salary to an upcoming Woody Allen film to charities fighting sexual harassment and abuse. The breakout star of "Call Me By Your Name" announced the donations on his Instagram account, becoming the latest actor to distance himself from Allen. Source