Source Attribution of Helicopter Noise in Pristine National Park Landscapes


  • Britton L. Mace
  • Paul A. Bell
  • Ross J. Loomis
  • Glenn E. Hass


Helicopter Noise, Sound Management, Aircraft Overflights, National Parks


Aircraft overflight noise from helicopter tours is frequently encountered in such national parks as Grand Canyon, Hawaii Volcanoes, Haleakala, and Bryce Canyon. Noise is an environmental stressor and is associated with a variety of physiological and psychological effects, some of which are long-lasting. Psychologically, attributing a stressor to a nonhostile origin (e.g., a helicopter rescue mission) could mitigate stress effects. In this study, 200 undergraduates rated National Park scenes while exposed to either natural sounds (birds, brooks, wind), helicopter noise attributed to tourist overflights, helicopter noise attributed to back country maintenance operations, or helicopter noise attributed to the rescue of a back country hiker. Regardless of the source, 60 decibel (dB(A)) helicopter noise resulted in lower ratings of scenic beauty, solitude, tranquility, freedom, naturalness, and preference, and higher ratings of annoyance. These effects occurred across all types of scenery. Results suggest that park management-related overflight noise is just as disturbing as tourist aircraft noise, and that the impact of this noise is substantial across demographic variables and across types of vistas.





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