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Cornelius News

Up, up and a way to get there fast

This is the helipad at a $6.8 million residential listing on Lake Norman/JamesEdition photo

Nov. 6. By Dave Yochum. Private helipads are emerging as a hot new amenity among luxury homeowners across the country. With a growing number of multimillion dollar homes in Cornelius, helicopters are helping lakeside homeowners avoid traffic congestion—and enjoy the high life.

Luxury Realtor Sandy Reynolds says there are three helipads off Belle Isle Drive where docks are the norm and until recently, were only associated with boats.

Sandy Reynolds

“The wealthy have evolved that term into helipads. The engineering behind some of these extravagant docks can land a 747 on them. When one pays $1 million-plus for the dirt to build a future home on, what’s another 150K for the jet-setting dock,” Reynolds said.

In June, The JamesEdition, a worldwide luxury publication on everything from yachts to mansions, put out a report called “The World’s Top 12 homes with stunning helipads: from Sardinia to Costa Rica.”

No. 7 on their list, at $6.8 million, was a house with a gorgeous helipad on Lake Norman. No. 6 was a villa for $8.5 million in Mykonos, Greece. No. 8 was 19th-century palace with a helicopter pad in Sardinia. Pricetag: $41 million.

Meanwhile, downtown Miami’s 1000 Museum is installing a helicopter pad on the roof of the 62-story residential complex. It will be the country’s tallest helipad in a private, residential building. The goal is to attract buyers from global cities.

It’s starting to happen here with some homes pricing out at well over $2 million

Abigail Jennings, president of Lake Norman Realty, said there is a higher demand among very wealthy buyers who want suburban luxury living at Lake Norman with more room to roam.

Abigail Jennings

“For these buyers, the sky is the limit and one amenity which might be on their dream home checklist is a helipad.  Although helipads have been found on exclusive Lake Norman estates for many years, more helipads are popping up around the lake than ever before for their travel convenience,” she said.

Work demands

Some people use helicopters the way other people use a car. You can cover a distance in 20 minutes by air what could take an hour or more by car. For those in the highest echelons of income, helicopters are a money-saving device.

Cornelius Realtor Matt Sarver also says helicopters provide the ability to explore all that North Carolina has to offer. “The ability to shorten the commute and get a new perspective of Lake Norman, the Blue Ridge mountains and the North Carolina coast and freely set down pretty much where you want is an adventure in its own,” he said. 

No town regulations

Helicopters don’t require a runway, of course, so they can set down on top of a sufficiently strengthened dock. Or the backyard of a private home. In fact there are apparently few regulations around helicopters and where they land.

If an owner plans to keep the helicopter on their property, they are required to get FAA approval.

“We had a situation a few years back with a neighbor landing a helicopter on the boat dock at Halyard Point,” said Cornelius Deputy Town Manager Wayne Herron. “Regulation rests primarily with the FAA, but we did learn that Duke Energy may have been involved with this one due to the chopper landing on the boat dock.”

Herron said the property owner eventually just stopped landing due to neighbors’ concerns. Indeed, one neighbor of a dock/helipad off Jetton said the windows of her million-dollar property rattle when the chopper comWes and goes.

Another neighbor, also in a million-dollar home, said the nearby helipad—less than 250 feet away—was one of the reasons they moved to another North Carolina lake property.

For the few helicopters that do roam the skies around Lake Norman, all are controlled by the national air transportation system and subject to the same air traffic control laws as coast-to-coast airlines.

However, if the flight remains at low altitudes, the helicopter may never enter controlled airspace (class-G airspace), in which case it is under no obligation to communicate with any air traffic control facility.

—Dave Vieser contributed to this story