Military Helicopters Scare Lower Manhattan

Around 9 p.m. last night, helicopters with minimal lights began buzzing through the neighborhood at extremely low altitudes. In an area understandably wary of aircraft, people were upset. “Didn’t see them but my whole apartment shook and we hit the floor,” said @Postjosh, in just one of many concerned tweets from folks wondering what was going on. “We are on Murray—nine fly-bys so far,” added @Allison_Fry_NYC. (And G. sent the video above.) As if the world didn’t already appear to be ending, a Staten Island Ferry was once again heading up the Hudson, flanked by boats with blue lights.

It turns out that the NYPD military was running an exercise—but don’t be fooled by the future tense in the tweet below. The NYPD sent out the notification 30 minutes after the helicopters first started causing a disturbance. “It’s not an advisory if you announce it after it happens,”  pointed out @AdamChrisNagy. People in this neighborhood don’t appreciate building level flybys. There needs to be some accountability for this.”

UPDATE from JM: “We saw them as well, flying at about 20th floor height at speed. They were 100% not NYPD, definitely military. We saw a package of 4 (2 Blackhawk variants and what appeared to be 2 smaller MH-6s) but there may have been 6 in total. All were fully blacked out with only a small red running light. There is video on Twitter where you can see military personnel sitting on the side of the MH-6s. This looked like a special forces raid exercise… in downtown Manhattan.”

UPDATE 4/18 at 7 p.m.: They’re coming back tonight. The NYPD decided to let us know in advance this time.



  1. We saw them as well, flying at about 20th floor height at speed. They were 100% not NYPD, definitely military. We saw a package of 4 (2 Blackhawk variants and what appeared to be 2 smaller MH-6s) but there may have been 6 in total. All were fully blacked out with only a small red running light. There is video on twitter where you can see military personnel sitting on the side of the MH-6s. This looked like a special forces raid exercise… in downtown manahattan.

    • Hi,

      I live in a highrise in NJ 9th floor and heard the loud helicopters coming over our building and watch them going towards NYC and although far I could see them without lights flying low and between the buildings. Only one had a red light. I was worried too, I figured and prayed it was a drill but still it was scary and you keep wondering. I just googled right now cause I still wonder and found all your responses. Wow.

  2. Re: ‘people in this neighborhood don’t appreciate building level flybys’. If there was a real incident and there was no response, people in this neighborhood would complain about that also. Take off your sleeveless vests, grey suits with brown shoes and rest easy that this city is the safest place to be in.

  3. I was sitting in my living room on the 30th floor overlooking the West Side river. Next thing I know, there is a loud sound like a helicopter is landing on my roof. I look outside and four small black helicopters are swooping down low towards my balcony and in what felt like the last second they turn left past by building. One had a long object extending from the front, what looked like a gun of some sort. My windows were shaking.

    Needless to say, I was extremely freaked out. A notice would have been nice.

    • relax snowflake, your in the safest city in America because of men and women who are sworn to protect people like you.

      • You used “snowflake” to refer to someone who is easily offended or entitled. It just does not apply to this case. Anyone would be scared seeing a military helicopter swooping towards them with no warning. The poster reasonably assumed they were in the middle of an attack, until they heard otherwise.

      • Okay – maybe I missed something? I’m a lifetime New Yorker. I’ve experienced and been involved in the aftermath of the bombing of the WTC, a lot of long blackouts, hurricanes and flooding of lower Manhattan, 9/11/2001, Hurricane Sandy — Not to mention the myriads of issues like gender issue beatings; political attacks going back to the 60s and 70s…..Can you let me know how this is the safest city we live in? ‘Cause I may not really get it. I think this was once one of the greatest cities in the world. But telling people to “relax….” Really? That’s why I CAN’T RELAX.

    • Did the 3000+ that died on 9\11 have a heads up? Did the scum that hijacked the planes give their families a call prior? Grow up!

      • I think your questions actually lead to the opposite response than you are looking for. You are correct that there was no warning on 9/11. It was not a drill. It was an actual attack. In contrast, the helicopters flying last night were part of a drill. They were not attacking the city. Thus, a warning would be appropriate.

        • I wasn’t looking for a response. This is the world we live in. I want to feel safe. If my windows rattle, so be it. Complacency is what got us to this point. If our leaders weren’t so complacent before and after the attacks, there might not have been a need for such drills.

    • Just to help out any other newcomers around

      Hudson River

      It’s called the Hudson River…


    • It wasn’t a gun, it was a fueling probe on an H-60

    • The Long object on the front of the helicopter is not a gun. It is a fuel line and connection for mid-flight refueling

    • These helicopters are military. They are part of the 160th SOAR, the US Army’s Special Operations Aviation Regiment. These pilots are the best in the world. They are participating in a RUT (Realistic Urban Training). I understand it can be scary but training scenarios like this test their limits and capabilities.

  4. they were on a Chick-fil-A run

  5. Perhaps a movie or TV show was filming flying sequences. Our streets are clogged with film shoots, why not our skies?

  6. I don’t understand how people who live in one of the busiest cities in the world can be surprised/upset by stuff like this. This is home to standing and former presidents, foreign diplomats, and the wealthiest/most influential businesses and people in the world. We are a big target. You shouldn’t live here expecting people to give you a heads up on this sort of stuff, drills or not. We’re fortunate that these are announced at all.

    NYC is a crappy place to live if you want peace and quiet with no surprises. Sure it’s scary when a military gunship flies by your million dollar luxury apartment with river views unexpectedly, but it’s not like we’re living in peaceful times.

    • On the other hand, people might reasonably expect a warning, seeing as how the city sends out an email for far less noteworthy flyovers.

      • Well there are two types of drills… scheduled ones, and ones that test responsiveness. I think it’s a luxury that any of this is announced at all.

    • obviously alee, you didn’t see what happened. they flew down harrison street about 20 stories above ground within approximately 100 feet of the ipn towers. this is not a noise complaint. my apartment was blasted with the wash from their propellers. like many of my neighbors, i’ve survived three terrorist attacks in tribeca over the years but this is the first time i have ever pulled my child back from the windows for her safety.

      • I don’t care if they ran tanks down West Street, with or without warning. This is real life, and they should be doing this sort of stuff more often. Unannounced military drills are a regular occurrence around the world, even in first world nations.

        • I agree with you, alee! This issue sure struck a raw nerve. I got slammed on Facebook for expressing a similar opinion to yours. Sadly, and unfortunately, many people have not gotten to a place where they can deal with what happened to them on 9/11. It was a horrific experience and each of us has our own story that we will never forget. Some relive their own horror when they hear a helicopter or airplane fly overhead. I am sad for them. However, I appreciate any drill, planned or not, that will potentially prevent another 9/11. A few minutes of fear and concern is worth not living through another nightmare.

  7. I find it odd that we, as a whole, can’t express fear or concern without it being labeled as “entitlement” by the same old people on this board over and over again. Just let people have their emotions without attacking them or their financial status. We can choose to disagree without being asses. The helicopters were low and noisy, and surprising. I saw them and figured it was a drill or a movie being filmed. But my 11 year old said “I’m scared what if this is a terrorist attack”. There are real feelings involved, so stop being so prissy and and hateful every time someone says something that you feel goes against your ideas. I think Maryann stated it best and most diplomatically. She has an opinion that contradicts others, but states it without being a hater.

  8. I have very clear video on my feed @seanvegezzi.

  9. I have reported this incident to our elected officials and CB1 and wrote to the Office of Emergency Management. Let’s be clear. This is a dangerous place to do military flybys at low altitudes. Helicopters are often winded and blow into buidings and cause damage/death/explosions. Flying close to buildings, with that much fuel is not only dangerous, but may be even be illegal. In the meantime, many residents were frightened or concerned – and don’t dare call me snowflake unless you want to stand in front of me and show me who you are. I stood in the streets on 9/11 and other emergencies down here and worked with our neighbors to help put a very damaged community back in order. Saying the people in WTC weren’t prepared for the attack is — well – weird. Are you confusing the Taliban with our military doing an exercise? Get yourself together dude or dudette. When something is inappropriate we must talk about it. I don’t believe bullying people or making fun of them is how a strong, productive individual should act. That’s why instead, many of us try to fix what’s wrong. THIS WAS WRONG. Not announcing it is wrong. But doing it here – in a residential community is wrong. No matter how much training one may have, the elements could go against you and we have 3,500 people in IPN alone. We have had battles about scaffolding and cranes which have been dangerous – and with all the thoughts that perhaps we are too worried, someone was killed during the last crane incident a few years ago. I have been very active in lower Manhattan since the 1970s. I believe I have the wisdom to know when to get involved and when to step back. This is not the time to step back. Someone made a mistake. Plain and simple.

    • Very well put. I couldn’t believe the shaking, sound and then sight of the helicopters and witnessing how incredibly low they were flying and swerving through buildings. And I am completely baffled how the community was not given a heads up. I have never been a conspiracy theorist but I can’t help but question if that was actually a drill.

    • So tired of people using the term “bullying” when confronted with differing opinions (even when made w/ a little snark or humor). That’s not bullying… it dilutes and detracts from the children and/or adults who face real world, real life bullying. This is the comments section of a local website; people may disagree with each other & have strong opinions on the subject – that’s life… IT IS NOT BULLYING. Good grief.

  10. For the “I need a heads up” folks… it’s happening again tonight. Heads up.

    • That wasn’t so hard, was it? :)

    • A short while ago, 4 little helicopters and a Blackhawk, running dark except for one tail light flew up the east side of the Hudson near BPC, trailing the parade of a Staten Island Ferry and multiple NYPD boats and the FDNY scuba boat. The ferry and its boat escorts turned around near the tunnel and are moving downstream and the 5 helicopters flew back south, just above the water on the N.J. side.

  11. I did not move all the way from San Francisco last year and pay the kind of money I did for my apartment to have to be subjected to a life similar to one in a war torn country. Is this what society has come too?? We the residents of Tribeca demand answers!

  12. This was dangerous and reckless. Yes, it’s true that many other countries conduct military activities without notice in their own cities. But that’s precisely what sets us apart. We don’t live under the penumbra of threat and constant military activity. That doesn’t mean we don’t respect and support our military, but we’re not accustomed to being buzzed at close range in our residences. Three of the larger helicopters buzzed right past my windows at eye level, along Columbus Avenue in the West 60’s. The sound was ferocious and the windows shook. It would be nice to hear some official statement about this activity, even if it’s just to let us know that our much admired military was engaging in routine preparedness exercises.

    • “Dangerous and reckless” is a value judgement. Just because you’re not used to seeing it doesn’t mean it was conducted without immense skill and planning. These are not a bunch of yahoos who an FAA sport pilot license going for a cruise. I seriously hope it’s the beginning of regular missions here in the city.

    • I think you have a very soft idea of what “dangerous and reckless” is. Relax…

  13. I’m surprised no one has brought this up….but I do see a need for a warning, not because I’m a ‘snowflake’ or inconvenienced by military drills, but what if we find ourselves in dangerous situation that warrants a reaction but many people fail to react because they question or assume it’s just a drill? ‘The little boy who cried wolf’ Is one of the first lessons we all learned as a child. There is no time for hesitation in a crisis.

  14. Maybe now all is well in Tribeca-ville?? Unless estancia runs out of avocado toast on chia seed paleo bread……..

    tongue firmly in cheek so mr. don’t call me snowflake doesn’t get insulted!

  15. If my mother were still alive and living here, she would have had a heart attack. The copters were swerving between buildings for crissakes at eye level! Not along the Hudson River which we are unfortunately used to. They were flying from the Hudson along Vesey St above the Oculus and along Harrison St.and that’s only what I saw from my apartment. I understand the need for military exercises. But with prior warning!! I still can’t get it out of my system. And I’m no snowflake being a refugee from an armed revolution and a 9/11survivor.

  16. I live in Central NJ and they have been flying loud, dark and fast over my house at low altitude Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday nights at 900PM south to north, and then at 1030PM north to south. And the altitude was at the height of the high voltage wires/towers. Last night they flew through the neighborhood parallel to the wires/towers.

  17. I was walking back to my dorm and around 5 or 6 flew right over the buildings. Later when I was up in the dorm a few more went by and they were dangerously close to the buildings. I thought it might be military. Upper West Side btw.

  18. They are military helicopters, right? I am shocked that here in the Resistance Capital of the United States, no one is blaming the Commander in Chief. Wow.

  19. This is the price that all of you pay to live the lives you live in this country. These aren’t hacks, they are obviously Tier 1 units, who are training for the unthinkable. You will never get a heads up bc that would compromise their presence and believe it or not there are people who would take that opportunity to try and harm or observe the tactics of these units. So I am sure they are sorry for scaring you but they would make it up to you by giving their life for you. So just eat your Kale, sip your Chai Tea, watch Netflix and let the big boys do what they need to do and be glad they are doing it.

  20. I think they are flying over whitestone queens right now they flew over like 3 times already. Why are they doing this at night and flying so low over familys houses

  21. And they are flying now 4/20/2018 between 1 and 2 PM off BPC. Up and down the Hudson. What is going on? Why aren’t we getting the usual heads-up with this air traffic?

  22. Those helicopters are from the 160th special operations aviation regiment. They are the best helicopter pilots in the world. The guys on the rails are of the caliber of guys that did the Bin Laden Raid and other operations that we haven’t heard of. They train in cities all over the country and usually notifications go out locally- they are operating under the supervision and permission of the city, and city assets usually get in kind training for their time- you should look them up on YouTube to see their capabilities as they are remarkable men and women. It’s scary, but those are the good guys, take a minute to appreciate how skilled those air crews are.

  23. Did any of you grow up in the time when schools did unannounced air raid drills during the time when the US? Kids, all the way from Kindergarten through 12th grade were subjected to those drills.
    I get people get scared. But this is life. Things aren’t all comfy cozy anywhere. Better that your child be aware that there may be an incident where this sort of thing is not a drill but an unfortunate real situation occurring. So tell them it’s ok to be scared & teach them what to do just in case you’re not around to pull them away from the window or comfort them.
    Did any of you have a kid in school on 9/11 that you couldn’t get to or reach when all the area schools went on lockdown? Kids were scared & so were the parents of those kids. But afterwards we had to sit them down & tell them what they should do in the event they are in a crisis situation & we’re not able to get to them.
    I’d rather have my house or apartment shake knowing that they’re prepared for a situation than to be able to watch TV without being startled by a real event. Oh yeah that’s right. I was subjected to it often when they still tested planes out of Gruman.
    Chill out people. Seriously. Let them do their job. An attack doesn’t come with a heads up warning in advance.

  24. There are military exercises taking place all over the country.

    Huge Strategic Exercise Is Underway With Half The B-2 Fleet Airborne Over The U.S. (Updated)
    A series of strategic aircraft movements, including the congregation of a dozen KC-10s tankers, signaled a major operation was underway.

  25. hi

    we had a similar incident same day, same year, yesterday, april 20, 2018, around 5.30pm over north cambridge, massachusetts.

    i called the police who said they did not know anything. i emailed the mayor who said he didn’t know anything and would find out. i haven’t heard a word.

    these helicopters were large, black and military. they flew so low that our three-story building shook and people came out on the street to look and say things were rattling in their apts.

    flying lasted about 10 minutes. they made about three passes, lower each time.

    googling this, i find nothing but your posting.

    adding to the general info thread.

    j merryman

  26. i stumbled on an article that explains the different military helicopters.

    based on that, i believe the little ones were MH6 “little birds. the big one was obviously a black hawk.