More Grand Canyon Flights, Less Noise

A controversial plan by the National Park Service will increase flight-seeing tours while decreasing noise—if it works

In a bid to ease the tension between air-tour operators and hikers/nature lovers, the park service is introducing a plan they say will increase flight-seeing tours while also reducing air traffic noise over the Grand Canyon. If you're like us, your first response might be: huh?

It goes something like this: The park service will allow 8,000 more flight-seeing tours a year to keep commercial pilots happy. But they will require tour operators to implement quiet technology over the next 10 years, and they will re-route all flight patterns for non-tour flights so they don't create noise over the Grand Canyon.

Will it work? Park service officials say it will restore natural quiet to 67 percent of the park for three-fourths of the day or more. Still, tour operators tell ABC they're unsatisfied:

"We're the only segment of the air tour industry this severely regulated, and it happens at the Grand Canyon," Steve Bassett, president of the United States Air Tour Association, said. "Now they're trying to severely regulate us some more."

Oh, boo-hoo.If you really want to experience the canyon, take a cue from our own editor-in-chief Jon Dorn and hike it a single day.

—Ted Alvarez