McCain changes tune on support for Grand Canyon air tours after major donations

Tour operator a major campaign supporter

By Rita Beamish   iwatch


Noise polluting Maverick helicopter flies below rim in GCNP Photo by Dennis Brownridge

A quarter century has elapsed since Sen. John McCain championed a new law to restore “natural quiet” in the majestic Grand Canyon where the clatter of choppers and small planes reverberated as they ferried sightseers over the national park.

Vowing to curtail air traffic that was both noisy and that had seen fatal collisions, the Arizona Republican said that parks regulate dogs, campfires and trail and river use, and “I see no reason why overflights should be any exception to the rule.”

The Grand Canyon, he proclaimed, “does not exist for anyone’s financial benefit.”

Today, however, McCain defends air tourism and its operators — including one of his biggest campaign backers — against what he sees as overzealous restrictions that the National Park Service is planning under that 1987 law.

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