Spectacular vistas are a Sedona trademark, with our red rock spires, awe inspiring canyons and the ancient remains of prehistoric dwellings stirring hearts the world over. Seen from the air, Sedona takes on a new and beautiful aspect – one shared only by our soaring avian wildlife.
As inspirational as the views can be, noise from helicopter tours had intruded on the natural quiet of Sedona, disturbing the serene peace that is an essential part of the Sedona experience.
All that changed in June 2020, when Sedona Air Tours and Guidance Air, Sedona’s two helicopter tour operators, agreed to flight changes that marked a significant step in Sedona’s drive for a sustainable quality of life for our residents and visitors. Dubbed the “Fly Friendly Agreement,” the tour operators agreed to stop overflights within the City of Sedona and several major resorts and neighborhoods outside the city limits.
Today, tour flights no longer hover above or near sensitive archeological sites, and are sensitive to the impact of noise on areas sacred to indigenous peoples. Operators observe the same protocols near historic heritage sites as well as major resorts and neighborhoods.
By limiting tour hours from 8 a.m. to dusk and adapting takeoff and departure routes from Sedona Airport, a small, non-towered airport with one runway and one helipad atop a west Sedona mesa, tour companies have reduced perceived noise without compromising safety or the thrilling experience they offer their customers. It is a win for all four pillars of the Sedona Sustainable Tourism Plan (STP): the incredible natural environment, our semi-rural quality of life, a thriving local economy and an unforgettable visitor experience.
Reducing helicopter noise was one of 61 tactics of the STP, a community-crafted plan adopted by the Sedona City Council in 2019. The Agreement is also an example of the community cooperation behind the Plan’s success since its adoption. The City of Sedona, Yavapai County, the Sedona Airport Authority, Keep Sedona Beautiful and the Sedona Chamber of Commerce & Tourism Bureau all participated in the negotiations.
You can contribute to Sedona’s long-term sustainability by taking the Sedona Cares Pledge today.