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Why Are Helicopters Flying Over My House? 10 Reasons

49 views | By Hangar.Flights Contributor | Last updated on October 06, 2022

Helicopters have a good reason for flying over people’s homes, but that doesn’t stop us from getting annoyed when they roar overhead. The thundering sound of a nearby helicopter is hard to miss, but that could also be the sound of a critical rescue or bad guys being apprehended.

Helicopters flying over homes are a permanent fixture of our daily lives, no matter our views. Military, police, and civilian helicopters perform public service tasks that involve flying over cities and residential homes. And if your home is close to an airport or lies along a helicopter flight path, there is a good chance of helicopters flying overhead at all hours.

This article lists several reasons a helicopter may circle your neighborhood or fly over your house. We will examine the different types of helicopters and why they could fly over your house.

So, the next time a neighbor is demanding why helicopters are flying over my house, you will have the perfect answer for them. 

Why Are Helicopters Flying Over My House? 10 Reasons

What types of helicopters are flying over my house?

Different helicopter types perform a variety of military and civil aviation roles. However, we shall focus on the three helicopter types you will most likely observe flying over your home.

Military helicopters

Military helicopters are all the helicopters in service with the four United States military branches and the National Coast Guard. Military helicopters play a massive role in military operations, and they perform numerous tasks ranging from combat, troop and material transport, surveillance, and search and rescue.

If you live close to a military airbase, the chances of a C-47 Chinook helicopter flying over your house are high. You will also likely observe AH-64 Apache or UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters flying overhead during training operations. You may notice the United States Coast Guard MH-60T Jayhawk helicopters flying overhead on search and rescue missions if your house is along the coast or near a Coast Guard facility.

Why Are Helicopters Flying Over My House? 10 Reasons

Photo by SPC Glenn Anderson

Police helicopters

A police helicopter is an essential law enforcement tool and is the most common helicopter type you often see flying over big cities and towns. Police helicopters are allowed to fly almost everywhere, and they are the usual culprits whenever there is the sound of a  helicopter flying over my house.

You can quickly identify a police helicopter by its paint scheme, the same as the livery on your city or county police patrol cars. Police helicopters fly lower and slower than other helicopter types, and you often notice them circling over an area when searching for people or objects.

Why Are Helicopters Flying Over My House? 10 Reasons

Civilian helicopters

These non-military helicopters are a staple of every large and small city. They consist of small or large aircraft performing different tasks like medical evacuations, firefighting, movie production, VIP transportation, and news and traffic coverage. Civilian helicopters can be owned or operated by public or private organizations, hence the term ‘civilian helicopter.’

Why Are Helicopters Flying Over My House? 10 Reasons

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Reasons why a helicopter is flying over my house

  1. Aerial surveillance – police helicopters provide aerial surveillance for ground teams during police operations. Helicopters performing aerial surveillance often fly low to continuously patrol the vicinity of the area where ground teams require surveillance images.
  2. Criminal pursuit – police helicopters often engage in the pursuit of criminals and fugitives. Helicopters in criminal pursuit often fly low and are equipped with bright ground-facing searchlights for nighttime operations. They may hover over your house or an area where a criminal suspect is likely hiding.
  3. Crime prevention – another reason why helicopters are flying over my house is to prevent crime. Police helicopters may patrol high-crime neighborhoods to deter criminals from engaging in criminal activities. And if you live in a high-crime area, then the helicopters flying over your house are ensuring that your neighborhood is safer.
  4. Crowd control – you might observe police helicopters flying over your home during rallies, protests, or concerts. Police use helicopters as crowd control tools, helping them to keep tabs on large groups of people.
  5. Search and rescue – law enforcement authorities can deploy helicopters to search for missing people, which is why you see helicopters flying over your house.
  6. Medical evacuation – helicopters may fly over your home while responding to nearby accidents or mishaps. Special helicopters providing air medical services (medevac) help to evacuate people injured in car crashes and other serious accidents.
  7. News and traffic reporting – a common reason why helicopters are flying over my house is news and traffic reporting. Television stations use helicopters to report breaking news stories and the local road traffic conditions.
  8. Public utility inspection – people living close to power lines, pipelines, and other public infrastructure are more likely to experience helicopters flying over their houses. Public utility companies regularly use helicopters to inspect their facilities, which is a reason for the helicopter flying over my house.
  9. Military training – the constant sound of military helicopters flying overhead is inevitable when residing close to an army air base. Military helicopters on training missions often flew over my house when I lived in a town with a nearby air force base.
  10. Aerial tours – tour companies showing sightseers local landmarks and sights may be why helicopters fly over your house.
  11. Home location – if your house is situated next to an airport or a helipad, then helicopters will fly over your house constantly as it may lie along their flight path.

Why Are Helicopters Flying Over My House? 10 Reasons

How low are helicopters allowed to fly over my house?

FAR 91.119 regulations of the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) allow helicopters to fly at a minimum altitude of 1,000 feet above the highest obstacle within a horizontal radius of 2,000 feet of the aircraft within the congested areas of a city, town, settlement, or over any open-air assembly of people. The FAR 91.119 regulations cap helicopter flight altitude over rural areas with sparse populations at 500 feet over any free-standing structure or people.

Police helicopters are exempt from this rule, so they fly at much lower altitudes over my house. Also, military helicopters are not subject to FAA regulations, and they can fly at any altitude.

Can I discover why a helicopter is flying over my house?

In the old days, the best I could do to find out why a helicopter was flying over my house was to turn on the TV for any news or listen to the local gossip. These days, you can download several apps providing data on helicopter flights and local 911 calls requiring a police or medevac helicopter deployment.

To monitor air traffic anywhere in the world (including directly over your house), you can alwayse use the great FlightRadar24 website.

Why Are Helicopters Flying Over My House? 10 Reasons

Do helicopters show up on FlightRadar24?

Most of the air traffic is tracked and visible, regardless of aircraft type, in regions with MLAT, radar, or Flarm coverage. Propeller planes, helicopters, and gliders are among the aircraft that are monitored.

ADS-B is the primary flight detection system for websites like FlightRadar24, but not all aircraft have transponders that emit ADS-B data. This means that some helicopters may not show up on FlightRadar.

In some regions, helicopters can be equipped with FLARM, in which case they would show up on FlightRadar24.

Conclusion

Helicopters fly for important reasons, and you can do very little to prevent them from flying over your house. If their noise keeps you up all night, then I advise you to invest in a pair of quality earbuds.