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Aviation Brice Canyon. Photo: Nicolas Zart

Published on October 16th, 2019 | by Nicolas Zart


Why Are Tourist Airplanes So Loud?

October 16th, 2019 by  

11 Days Hiking — Loud Vehicles Makes A Clear Case for Electric Mobility

After an 11-day hike around Zion Canyon, Brice Canyon, and the Grand Canyon, one thing became clear. Why are tourist parks and monument aviation so loud? We need quieter and cleaner electric mobility.

Brice Canyon. Photo: Nicolas Zart

Brice Canyon. Photo by Nicolas Zart

How eVTOL Aircraft Can Save Our Sanity

Why disturb the almost pristine peace of parks and deserts with loud internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles and airplanes? We only saw one lone Tesla Model X during that time. The rest were the usual rental cars and obnoxious behemoths on the road worsening the quality of the air and water. Make this case #2,331 why mobility needs to become electric.

Although efficiency hasn’t already won over everyone in the automotive and aviation industry, it’s important to highlight that it can solve yet another problem: noise, and there is plenty of it from the ICE age.

On my last visit to the Fullerton, California, airport, I saw a few Pipistrel Alpha Electros sitting and waiting for a more favorable FAA certification. Something became clear again: current airplanes, sea vessels, and land vehicles are loud. Airplanes were taxiing to the runway only to idle to push their pistons and climb higher with much noise.

Pipistrel Alpha Electro

Not noisy. Pipistrel Alpha Electro

Don’t get me wrong, I’m used to car sounds. I grew up with 1930s Alfa Romeo race cars, later Maseratis, and later Ferraris. Babies don’t come out of the womb loving ICE noise. It’s an acquired taste. But I couldn’t shake the annoyance on my recent vacation: Why would loud engines disturb the peace of majestic deserts, forests, and monuments?

What we enjoyed was almost negated by what we heard. Some tourists were playing music loudly on their phones, holding everyone hostage to their auditory tastes. We had to try to turn a deaf ear to motorcycles running straight pipes in the middle of nature’s serenity. We also had to tune out ICE airplanes buzzing above what nature took millions of years to create.

Brice Canyon. Photo: Nicolas Zart

Just when we got back home, I saw eVTOL.com had a similar thought. In “Electric aircraft could be a new way to tour World Heritage sites,” they came to the same conclusion. Helicopter and airplane rides are noisy, expensive, and pollute these once pristine places.

Flying over classified monuments is prohibited for individuals. I was hoping to catch a glider ride above and gaze at the majestic landscape, hearing only the sound of the wind around the frame. But that too isn’t aloud – yet. This means only a handful of companies can bring an air shuttle back and forth fo eager tourists.

Air touring offers advantages unparalleled by cars. You can skip the hordes of tourists clogging the ground view and talking loudly. University of North Carolina (UNC) professor Brent Lane feels the same. He notes that the new generation of electric takeoff & landing (eVTOL) aircraft are potentially cleaner, quieter, and cheaper than traditional air transport. He even argues that it could help certain UNESCO World Heritage sites by bringing another type of tourism quietly from the air.

Lane told eVTOL.com: “We know that in many cases, air touring of natural and cultural heritage sites has a lot of market appeal. … So we have a strong market demand for this sort of experience, but we have a technology [in helicopters] that’s too intrusive.”

Electric air mobility will also be a boon for archaeology. Recently, the discipline has been trying to preserve sites from human pollution and vandalism. Our last boat ride – yes, a gasoline boat ride – through the Colorado river was noisy. It brought us to a sacred indigenous spot dating back thousands of years. In early 2019, a person decided to carve his initials deep next to ancient and meaningful engravings. The person was caught and paid for it but the scars remain.

Case in point: Lane says he is particularly interested in alternatives ways to bring mass tourism to see but not touch. He says it would remove crowds that too often “trample a place to death and gain very little appreciation of the site itself, other than going to the restroom and the gift shop.” Talk about a burden on the local economy. Cars, airplanes, and boats making noise pushing picture-taking tourists along for an eventual moment back home. It would be comical if it wasn’t so sad.

Dude, You’re Too Loud!

It was great seeing one of my favorite aviation publications have the same thought as we did. Why use loud ICE aircraft, vehicles, and boats to bring a mass of picture collectors? Imagine gauging the beauty of Brice Canyon from the air or to see the famous Nazca Lines in Peru from high above?

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About the Author

Nicolas was born and raised around classic cars of the 1920s, but it wasn't until he drove an AC Propulsion eBox and a Tesla Roadster that the light went on. Ever since he has produced green mobility content on various CleanTech outlets since 2007 and found his home on CleanTechnica. He grew up in an international environment and his communication passion led to cover electric vehicles, autonomous vehicles, renewable energy, test drives, podcasts, shoot pictures, and film for various international outlets in print and online. Nicolas offers an in-depth look at the e-mobility world through interviews and the many contacts he has forged in those industries. His favorite taglines are: "There are more solutions than obstacles." and "Yesterday's Future Now"

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