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Low-flying helicopters performing advertising stunt wake up downtown Vancouver

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Car manufacturer Subaru is apologizing for the 5:30 a.m. disturbance

Akshay Kulkarni · CBC News · Posted: Jun 22, 2021 5:23 PM PT | Last Updated: June 22
A helicopter carrying an SUV as part of an advertisement stunt woke up Vancouver's West End Tuesday at 5:30 a.m. (Kris Selezinka)

Residents of Vancouver's West End were rudely awakened Tuesday morning by two low-flying helicopters shooting a Subaru commercial.

The nearly hour-long stunt started at 5:30 a.m. and involved an SUV suspended from a  helicopter near English Bay, while another helicopter encircled it shooting video.


Social media was filled with complaints from residents who also made more than 20 calls to the city and to the VPD.

Some compared the noise to a rescue operation, while others likened it to a loud alarm clock.

WATCH | 2 helicopters buzz by towers in the city's West End at 5:30 a.m.:


West End woken up at dawn by helicopter dangling an SUV

19 hours ago
The stunt was part of a commercial shoot by Japanese car giant Subaru. 1:00

"This is one of the most densely populated areas in North America and they think it's acceptable to do [it]," said Kris Selezinka, a West End resident who was woken up by the noise at dawn. 

"The fact that these guys think that they can fly around and wake everyone up is crazy."

A Subaru spokesperson said city and federal officials approved the timing.

"We followed all necessary protocols and received clearance from the City of Vancouver and Transport Canada, including the recommended time to conduct this aerial exercise," said Subaru spokesperson Julie Lychak.

"We also wish to apologize to anyone we unintentionally disturbed while we were in the area."

Transport Canada said it granted Squamish-based Black Tusk Helicopters permission for the stunt and the approval to film it came from the City of Vancouver.

A city spokesperson said it did approve the shoot and "did not have any concerns" it would impact residents.

"Unfortunately, the flight path and sound impacts this morning did not match what was described to staff and, regrettably, caused a lot of disruption to residents of the area," the city said, noting that neither it or Transport Canada were informed of changes to the flight path.

The city said it would be following up with Transport Canada about the incident.

Under Vancouver's bylaws, loud noises such as construction and leaf blowers are usually prohibited before 7:30 a.m.

The city spokesperson said 13 people called 311 complaining about the noise. Twelve people also called the Vancouver police.

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Actually after a bit of reminiscing, I think perhaps the 204B (original symmetrical main rotor blades) has the best main rotor sound going!  Heading to the "Muni" after a tour, 1000 feet, 100 knots, lined up on the road to our house on the way in.  Yep, my Wife and kids knew I was back (and all the neighbors too😁).  Mind you, we weren't slinging a Subaru!

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If you ever get to see a low level fly by from one of those you’d be impressed. I worked for Transwest back in the day when they were in Chilliwack and when the did a fly by, it was pretty crazy. The GMC dealership next door spent some time turning off car alarms. They hated us!

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I was riding cojoe in a 204B moving an airconditioner to a rooftop in down town wpg...we landed and refueled on the legislative lawn...8 am...never heard boo from anyone! this was with Midwest...using dze...machine had no bubble window...I had the door open on the left side watching the load and talking the pilot down...was dam cold!

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