What’s the buzz over Echo Park and Silver Lake tonight?

2006 photo by Marshall Astor/Flickr

The drone of helicopters flying overhead is a familiar sound in Echo Park and Silver Lake. But some unusual helicopter activity tonight – with pairs of choppers flying without lights and other maneuvers – has caught the attention of residents.  One person named John who lives near Glendale and Silver Lake boulevard said he saw and heard a huge helicopter hovering over the eastern edge of Silver Lake for about 15 minutes this evening:

It looked about 4 times as large as a typical helicopter, was all dark except two small lights, and hovered with a loud low hum for about 15 minutes (so far). Never seen or heard anything like that. Maybe an army helicopter?

An officer with the LAPD Air Support Division said the department is engaged in training but would not provide any details.


  1. Thanks! was wondering about this!

  2. yup, a pair were flying over our house (near dodger stadium) for about 30 min. we were wondering what was happening. thanks eastsider!

  3. Big deal people !
    What is ALL this paranoia about the helicopters ??????
    This is Echo Park !
    Its like blogging in Brentwood about a Ferrari going by !
    “Yeah , I just saw a Ferrari go by ”
    Get over it already !

  4. Yeah, it was weird and more than a little scary. I knew that they were military helicopters and they were flying high and covering a wide area. They made more noise than a fleet of garbage trucks but, as you noted, had only tiny red lights on them and were hardly visible.

  5. P.S. I think that what John saw was what I saw, not one huge helicopter, but two helicopters at some distance from each other, showing only one dim red light each.

  6. Great trying to sleep now. Why not train over Santa Clarita?

  7. Exactly what I’m saying! If this is some kind of training, why the heck can’t they do it when people don’t have to get up early the next morning? Or somewhere that there are less people? Police helicoptors are one thing, but this hardly sounds necessary.

    Grrr. Going back to bed.

  8. @ 11:00, it IS annoying.

    Just asked my S/O about it, he’s a retired cop. He said they are probably doing night vision training and the only way to do it is @ night. I’d bet that they aren’t doing it over Santa Clarita. Since that’s where a lot of cops live.

  9. Kittsy, perhaps you could move to Brentwood.

  10. I just saw a Ferrari go by in Lincoln heights HaHa

  11. Oh it was a helicopter

  12. Residents,

    These birds are for your safety.

    Continued well being, and please don’t forget to check your property perimeter each night before going to sleep.

    Sgt. Bill

  13. No thanks , I’ve lived here ALL my life , unlike you .

    I am used to the helicopters .

    Get over it .

  14. These guys were obnoxiously loud last night where I live in CxP. Nothing like being lulled to sleep by them at 11pm. Sometimes the eastside can feel a lot like a war zone. The car alarms were going off because of it, the dogs were all barking, and thank god I don’t have a baby or it would have been crying too. Thank god I don’t have to get up at 4am like I used to for work.

    I can understand when there is important police activity being conducted like a gang bust, but helicopters are such a waste of energy and money most of the time, and training like this in a “civilian” area is just ridiculous. Sgt Bill, can’t you guys find a better way to treat your neighbors?

  15. @ Kittsy
    How about some live and let live? & if you don’t grant people that, then you need to realize that this is Echo Park of 2011. Stop acting like it’s 25 years ago, now. Get over it!

  16. Saying “get over it ” is basically saying live and let live genius !

    I CAN act like it was 25 years ago and way before that , because THAT is when people in Echo Park actually “lived and let live ” and were not all paranoid about everything and just went with the flow of the neighborhood !

    You have no idea what that’s like , so get over it !

  17. “…helicopters are such a waste of energy and money most of the time, and training like this in a “civilian” area is just ridiculous.”

    K, relax and come to senses.

    PD police L.A., an urban area. This is why they train here.

  18. @ Kittsy
    I WAS here 25 years ago and I stand by what I said. YOU get over it.

  19. The whole “I’ve lived here longer than you” thing is soooooo tired! Can’t you let that go? Neighborhoods and cities change, and that kind of hillbilly provincialism needs to change too. Seriously.

  20. Ok, let’s have everyone list when they moved into the neighborhood, and from where, so we can develop once and for all a hierarchy of comment validity. Comments from those who have lived here longer are granted more weight than those who have lived here less time.

    I’ll start. I’ve lived in the neighborhood for 21 years.

    Ok. Now I’m obviously deferential to ML, who is a proud 25+ year resident, therefore more knowledgeable and demanding of those who need to get over “it”. Duly noted Sir/Madam. And I seem to have arrived fresher than Kittsy, whose demand that, having “no idea what it (was) like”, genius’ should just “live and let live” without being “paranoid about everything”, will be henceforth obeyed.

    But I do hold dominion over some commentors on this blog, I’m sure. So I believe that comments made from those who moved into the neighborhood after 1990 should be ridiculed, mocked and ignored. From this point onward, they will be so met with calls for commentors to return to their previous and less cool/less street neighborhoods, recognize that brutal gang violence is something to be blindly accepted and bemoan anyone of a different ethnicity/income bracket than myself moving into the neighborhood and tearing apart the very fabric of my once proud neighborhood.

  21. kittsy kittsy kittsy: let it go…

  22. I saw a large military helicopter that looked and sounded like the ones last night flying over vermont this morning .

  23. @ALEXiS MONTA-whatever
    How DARE you assume that if anyone lived here before 1990 , that we were all gang bangers and losers and junkies and so on etc…

    I have lived here since 1965 and AGREE with kittsy that it was laid back .

    You have crime in ALL neighborhoods .
    We long time residents have not just “stood by ” .
    That is such an ignorant statement !
    That’s where you REALLY don’t know the neighborhood well at all !
    Because before you moved here you assumed that it was just a crappy neighborhood , but to us , it has ALWAYS been home !

    You are tearing the fabric of a proud neighborhood and its long time residents by making ignorant assumptions !
    I cannot believe your attitude !

    Fly on whirly birds ! Fly on !

  24. When I lived in silver lake I used to buy my Dickies in Gerrys department store and my Cortez Nikes the blue and white at Crown shoes and my groceries at the old pioneer market

  25. Above all this other posturing B.S., fact is, training at 11 p.m. for thirty minutes is UNACCEPTABLE. It gets dark much sooner than that and, if we’re to co-exist, even the police department needs to show some respect for the neighborhood and it’s citizens, young and old. The noise was extremely loud and continuous and woke the whole family, mine and others. Surely there’s a compromise?

  26. Good morning,

    Regarding the helicopters, in the past the military has trained with the police and fire department pilots and aircrews in the downtown area, as they were doing the other night, it would seem. The reason they train downtown, rather than in Santa Clarita, is that metropolitan Los Angeles is a complex navigational array of buildings. In order to see activity at street level and gain proficiency, the helicopter pilots must fly higher than normal and watch for tall structures, as many downtown buildings’ height exceeds their normal observation altitude.

    Regrettably, the aircraft are noisy, but they train at a late hour for two reasons. One is, heaven forbid a craft goes down, the downtown area is less populated at that hour than say, nine or ten when a Staples Center event is letting out and folks are leaving restaurants. Most of the skyscrapers are also largely vacant. Also at that hour, most other civilian and business aircraft are no longer operating, therefore the chance for conflicting airspace is lessened.

    (213) 484-3400

  27. A little irony with the Santa Clarita comment due to the large amount of law enforcement residing
    there. How about tranning on Friday and Saturaday nights when less citizens have to arise at 5am for work? Oh yes once again because the City of LA cares nothing for the people it governs. I have lived in EP since ’75 and being so old I need my zzzzzzz’s!

  28. Alijill,

    Good point re training on Friday or Saturday night, I’ll forward that to my chain of command. The Santa Clarita reference was addressing an earlier post. Enjoy your day!

    (213) 484-3400

  29. The Santa Clarita post was mine. Lame attempt at humor on my part. Thank you and you have a great day Wes! Keep doing the good work!

  30. Alexis Monta-Whatever

    Loaner –

    First, my compliments on finding your CAPS LOCK and exclamation point key!

    I assume you’re attempting some sort of meta-comment by so perfectly exemplifying the reactionary, exclusionary and territorial flavor of so many comments on this blog.

    Or maybe you just plain don’t understand my, albeit not very funny, attempt at humor. I guess sarcasm also moved to the ‘hood after 1965.

    Either way, we can agree on one thing:

    Helicopters RULE!!!!!!

  31. Solution:


  32. Alijill,

    Not lame at all, and a valid point, re training. The terrain and landscape are the key!

    (213) 484-3400

  33. Creative Maladjustment

    Why the secrecy? Back when the LAPD blog announced joint military training exercises in 2009, it directed questions and concerns to an Officer Steve Scallon, who when contacted by me was very short and unhelpful, refusing to provide any additional information about the exercises. It was reported in the news that they were using Blackhawks.

    Do these exercises mean a further militarization of what is supposed to be a civilian police force, or is the training working the other way around –the LAPD teaching the military urban tactics to help subdue perhaps yet another Muslim country?

  34. I think Alexis Montague needs Jesus .
    You are very ignorant and your comments are downright rude and insensitive .
    You are not funny . Not in the least bit .

  35. Awwww. Not the least bit funny? Not even a little?

    And I’ll ignore this thread after this, but the point of my comment, and I assumed (wrongly) that it didn’t have to be explicitly stated, was that some comments here are very territorial and mean. I was in a sense taking on the “rude and insensitive” persona of the commentors who lash out at any change in the neighborhood or ideas presented from recent arrivals as “ignorant” or inconsequential. Why a simple post on a blog more often devolves in to a neighborhood cred battle on the internet, I just don’t know.

    I have read comments directed towards those who were frightened or off put by random gang shootings telling those who were frightened, in essence, to get used to bullets flying through the air or move. I just don’t think that’s sensical or a point of neighborhood pride. And I know the changing neighborhood bothers some longtime residents, but there’s this feeling that permeates these threads that unless you’re grandparents built their house and your family has lived in it ever since, that your view is to be ignored or mocked.

    So there it is, explicitly stated, that I think that sometimes the views can be narrow minded, possibly stated from a position of fear of change. And if you’re offended by my insensitivity, grow up, it’s an internet post about helicopters.

  36. Alexis ?Campbell ? Wow, really
    You have issues, are condescending, and contradictory .
    You have no neighborhood pride because you don’t have a nice bone in any of your posts .
    In reading your posts , you are wrong on many levels .

    You my dear sound very narrow minded , and quite disturbed actually .
    You are very insensitive , and seem to have a “sore spot ” when someone is happy to have grown up here .

    Quit being such a rude A-hole !
    After all , its only an internet post about helicopters !

  37. was there more ‘training’ today/tonight?
    the air over my house (in Atwater) seemed like a serious traffic jam of ‘copters today !

    (PS: I thought Alexis’ post was hysterical ! I got it ! Sarcasm needs it’s own font, it seems – so more people would ‘get it’ too.)

  38. We all need Jesus and thank god he’s giving us his blog!

  39. I just spoke with a member of the SWAT team, who was training with the Marine helicopter crews. Last night (03-24-11) was their final night, and he was surprised at the noise complaints, as they carefully mapped the route of the helicopters, which were practicing “insertion and extraction” techniques (dropping off and picking up personnel) in urban environments. He was not surprised in an indignant manner, but that the ships were as noisy as related, since that is an aspect taken into account. As a result, in the future they will review their flight paths and altitudes, and the night of the week which they train.

    They were using two military helicopters, and he said one movement described as particularly loud was when both helicopters were lifting off and moving at once. The craft were using a plateau at a high point in Elysian Park for landings, and were also landing at the Police Academy, which has a simulated residential street among its training features. That area was also used due to its proximity to the police heliport at the Erwin C. Piper Technical Center just east of the MTA building downtown, which can accommodate military helicopters. Those areas are also less densely populated than most areas near downtown.

    We extended our regrets for the inconvenience, and the pilots and SWAT officers will review the routes. No similar training is scheduled in the future.

    (213) 484-3400

  40. Wow thank you Wes!

  41. Thank you Wes for the info and looking at future options to reduce the impact in our urban, yet still a bedroom community, of Echo Park. The hour of training and the low elevation of the exercise was very disturbing for us on the southern edge of Elysian Park.

  42. I do not approve of helicopters training for this miserable war effort in my neighborhood much less with my tax dollars. Anyone remember this from last time? No military industrial complex in my neighborhood or country!!!!!

  43. We have two babies. Ages 2 and 3. Our next door neighbors on the right have 1 year old twins. On the left a 5 month old. Echo Park is an affordable neighborhood for young families. Our babies hear this too! It shakes our house. It wakes them. They cry. Don’t we have enough noise pollution already in our neighborhood that we can’t control.

  44. Thank you Eastsider for posting this. I assumed it was for a movie, since it didn’t seem to be police activity. Thanks again.

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