If you live in Oakland, you have probably frequently wondered, “Why do I hear helicopters right now?” It can often be really difficult to answer this question! Maybe we can all figure it out together.

Enter the date you heard the chopper(s), and the reason. (It’s OK if you don’t know it; someone else may add that information.)

Another OaklandWiki page can help you figure out why there might be helicopters by figuring out which one(s) you’re seeing: Identifying Helicopters You Might See in Oakland.

If there is a large activity, like a protest, you may hear some “Situational Updates” over the Oakland Police Scanner.

Recent Sightings (aka “I hear OPD Nazgul—what’s going on?”)

Date…………………… Time.......... Where

Reason (if known)

2018-08-02 Approximately 8:30PM Dogtown Unknown, current theories include a hostage situation on Adeline as well as a possible manhunt for a sex offender
2017-12-13 11:10am Oakland Courthouse Watching bomb squad. News article.
2017-12-11, 12 11:45pm+ Montclair Channel 2, Channel 7 choppers. Snake Road Fire
2017-12-04 2:30pm Montclair Village Channel 2 chopper (I think); downed tree on Moraga?
2017-10-05 1:45pm Berkeley/Oakland I-80 Police engage in shootout on I-80 http://theheatmag.com/police-engage-in-shootout-with-a-suspect-in-oakland/


7:00pm Emeryville/Oakland Border  
2017-10-02 5:15pm Snake Rd. Channel 2 chopper; fallen tree on Snake near Zinn
2017-09-12 1:05pm 5th Ave. and Embarcadero  
2017-09-06 4:45pm Rockridge Police looking for two missing kids


1:30am West Oakland/580 CHP trying to locate someone at 32nd and Telegraph. (from OPD scanner)
2016-11-28 10:35am Emeryville/Oakland Border Hovering over one spot for over 20 mins so far...
2016-10-21 9:30 pm Lower Bottoms  
2016-10-21 8:30am+ Dimond Water main break at Montana and Dimond SFGate
2016-09-24 8:15 pm Downtown Keith Scott Protests


5pm East Oakland: between 85th and 100th, near MacArthur

Unknown, The "dogs are going to bite you script" was being broadcasted


2016-02-10 10:00 am Foothill and Coolidge  
2016-01-07 7:30 pm Grand Lake/Adams Point 2 popo-copters circling, searchlights sweeping. One broadcast a taped loop (not too clear, but suitably Big-Brotherly, a la “give yourself up now or the dogs will find you … residents: stay inside your homes …”) Update.
2015-11-19 5:30 pm East Oakland Unknown helicopter monitoring barricade situation described by KRON4
2015-09-11 5:00 pm Downtown KTVU helicopter monitoring Urban Shield protest noted by Dave DeBolt
2015-09-11 2:30 pm Rockridge Single flyover by Coast Guard helicopter
2015-09-07 6:00 pm Fruitvale & MacArthur Unknown. Speaker instructing people to go inside their homes.
2015-09-04 3:30 pm Rockridge, Piedmont Ave. Homeland Security checking background radition. Tail # N411DE per Ali Winston
2015-08-25 2:00 pm Emeryville Probably police helicopter searching for shooting suspect per KCBS report
2015-08-17 7:50 am Shepherd Canyon ABC-7 news chopper; something 4.0 earthquake related?
2015-08-14 6:30 pm - downtown Nathanial Wilks Vigil
2015-08-12 17:00 West Oakland Channel 2 helicopter, police shooting area
2015-08-12 16:30 West Oakland ABC7 helicopter spotted after police shooting on 27th and Northgate [1]
2015-07-28 7:05 pm Downtown Line of 5 helicopters proceeding toward northwest.
2015-07-17 7:30-7:45 pm Crocker Highlands  
2015-07-02 10:00 am Flora and Havenscourt  
2015-06-19 10:00 am Downtown They’re just watching the parade
2015-06-16 5:00 pm Downtown Unknown reason or description; heard from the 15th and Jefferson via State Building
2015-06-11 9:30 pm South Berkeley Sounds like they were looking for a missing or abducted child. Something about brown hair and maybe a white dress.
2015-05-26 9:00 am Fruitvale, near Mitchell and E. 23rd Police searching for armed robbery suspects tweet 1, tweet 2, 2 of 3 caught
2015-05-25 9:35 pm Downtown ?
2015-05-18 12:15 am Downtown Berkeley Helicopter going in circles since 20 minutes over downtown Berkeley… Unknown description or reason in local news
2015-05-18 12:00 am W. Berkeley Helicopters and sirens. Called police and was told CHP was chasing a stolen car.
2015-05-12 9:00 pm Downtown Heard from my apartment in Downtown, near State and Federal Buildings. Unknown Description or Reason.
2015-05-07 6:00-8:00 Fruitvale near MacArthur x Fruitvale (exact location) CHP and OPD looking for suspect who allegedly tried to run down a police officer. Suspect got away.
2015-05-01 9 am Downtown/West Oakland May Day Stop Police Brutality Port Shutdown
2015-05-01 6:15 am Downtown Helicopters flying in general vicinity of Downtown; => port protest? or tech shuttle protest? or maybe just traffic?
2015-04-27 6:45 pm Downtown Demonstration related to Freddie Gray death and funeral in Baltimore
2015-04-21 12 pm-1 pm Fruitvale Helicopter flying low broadcasting message that they have them “surrounded and will unleash dogs that will attack”. This was somewhere near Harrington.
2015-04-14 2 pm - 5 pm Downtown RevCom USA Stop Police Murder Protests. Heard the Helicopters from 15th and Jefferson. Likely Black Lives Matter protest and freeway disruptions.
2015-03-15 2 am West Oakland/Emeryville Helicopter with a bright searchlight kept circling the area of 32nd Street, from Chestnut through Peralta. I live on Adeline & 32nd Street, and they flew over the area for a good hour. The streets seemed fairly quiet, so I have no idea why.
2015-03-15 1 am West Oakland ”lots of police at 29th & Chestnut, same neighborhood as last week’s shooting. Didn’t get very close.” tweet1, tweet2
2015-03-09 5 pm West Oakland a shooting sfgate contra costa times
2015-03-08 8:40 pm Emeryville/Southwest Berkeley ?
2015-03-08 6:58 pm Oakland/Lake Merritt Police pursuit passed east up Park Bvld towards Mac Arthur 5-10 mins ago. Helicopter deployed a few minutes after.
2015-03-04 12:45 pm Oakland/Piedmont ?
2015-02-25 4:00 p.m. 580 fwy betw. Park Blvd. and Lakeshore Avenue exits Spilled load of concrete and bricks
2015-02-20 5 pm West Oakland hit and run?
2015-02-06 7:15 am Oakland  
2015-02-03 1:45 Emeryville officer involved shooting
2015-01-28 12:30 pm Downtown  
2015-01-22 3-4:00 am West Oakland/McClymonds  
2015-01-18 8 pm Downtown #ReclaimMLK protest
2015-01-15 2:30 east oakland near 82nd and golf links Police search for robbery suspects on Alvingroom Ct?
2015-01-10 7 pm Suter St. near I-580 Suspects holed up; “We have you surrounded. Surrender or we will release the dogs. They will find you. If you run, they will bite you.”
2014-12-15 9:00 am Downtown Protesters blocking Oakland Police HQ
2014-12-09 2 pm West Oakland (south of Mandela) unknown
2014-12-05 all evening West Oakland, Downtown Eric Garner protests shut down 880 and West Oakland BART
2014-12-04 2-2:30 pm Jack London/Downtown unknown
2014-12-03 8:00 pm Downtown Oakland protests for Eric Garner decision
2014-11-25 7-11 pm Downtown, West Oakland, North Oakland At least 2 helicopters filming protests. Livestream from ABC helicopter here: http://abc7news.com/live/7704/
2014-11-24 8:08 pm Downtown At least 3 helicopters in air monitoring protests.
2014-11-24 5:50 pm Downtown Grand jury announcement regarding indictment of Ferguson police officer who shot Michael Brown.
2014-11-08 1:43 pm Lakeshore/Crocker Highlands N442BN - unknown
2014-11-01 11:08 am Temescal Shooting around 80th and International. Suspect fled to 38th and Clarke.
2014-10-30 2:15 pm Downtown Probably because of gas leak that caused many downtown buildings to be evacuated
2014-10-30 1:05 pm San Pablo/580 Area Circling for approx. 15 mins. UNCONFIRMED: CHP Motorcycle Officer struck by car in W. Oakland
2014-10-25 11:00 pm Temescal/Rockridge unknown
2014-10-22 4:15 pm downtown Oakland to Ferguson protest (on twitter: #O22)
2014-10-08 4:10 pm 30th & West 4 circles, south of 30th. // shooting in 800 block of Apgar
2014-09-24 11:00 am Downtown/City Center Citibank robbed at 10:30, got away
2014-09-16 7:00 am W. Oakland 13th & Center, circled at least 3 times, really close to our house. Loud but couldn’t see from my window.
2014-09-11 2:51 pm Downtown/City Center OPD helicopter flew over once
2014-09-06 10-1130 am Temescal (faint sound, distant circling) unknown
2014-09-05 5:00-6:45 pm Downtown Urban Shield protest. Here’s a picture..
2014-09-01 1:45 pm Piedmont Ave  
2014-08-26 7:45 pm Downtown BART equipment problems causing massive delays? Circling around 100 Grand Avenue, next to the Lake/Cathedral/Grand & Broadway. Here since at least 1930
2014-08-25 11:45 pm Lake Merritt Pursuit of motorcyclist w/ damaged headlight spotted doing 55+ down Park Blvd towards Lake Merritt/downtown. https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=795287733849270
2014-08-25 8:30 pm Downtown Downtown?
2014-08-21 4:30 pm -5:45 pm and counting Chinatown/Lake Merritt/West Oakland Maybe still #dayofRage.
2014-08-21 4:20 pm Downtown Somebody associated with Anonymous called for Day of Rage protests starting at 4:00 today in various locations, including Oakland, but it doesn’t seem to be real. http://www.snopes.com/info/news/dayofrage.asp
2014-08-20 5:00 pm 7th - 14th and Broadway Protests against police violence
2014-08-18 4:00 pm OG/Frank Ogawa Plaza Michael Brown solidarity event against police violence: Ustream
2014-08-16 6:30 pm West Oakland, near BARt The block the boat protest.
2014-08-15 around 6:30 pm OG/Frank Ogawa Plaza Media choppers covering Michael Brown solidarity event against police violence: Tweet, Tweet
2014-08-12 around 1 pm West Oakland According to this tweet: “H32, @CHP_GoldenGate helo, assist @oaklandpoliceca w/search4stolen-car suspect, W Grand and Tele”
2014-08-04 6:30 pm West Oakland Based on this tweet, it’s possibly related to small fire at West Oakland BART? Maybe not?
2014-07-30 3:30 pm West Oakland any ideas?
2014-07-08 11:40 am 21st Avenue near East 27th Street CHP helicopter circled several times. Played recording, “Come out with your hands out” and “We have the place surrounded.”- per Captain Toribio on twitter ”Police activity: Area 2 assisting Area 3 in area of 2100blk E.24 St. Barricaded carjacking suspect. @Area3OPD on scene.”
2014-07-08 2:00 pm lower dimond/580  
2014-07-01 3:30 pm Foothill near High Street CHP helicopter circled several times
2014-06-23 9:45 pm ish West Oakland CHP Stolen-car suspect nabbed by @oaklandpoliceca, 30th/MLK w/help of @CHPoakland helo H30 equipped w/#FLIR (Forward Looking Infrared) (tweet)
2014-06-23 9:20 pm grand lake?  
2014-06-20 9:00 am High St. in Laurel OPD,subject fled CHP traffic stop
2014-06-20 6:45 am Rockridge Two helicopters: ABC 7 and Channel 2? Possibly the DUI/crash that has Tunnel Road closed?
2014-06-18 6:35 pm Border of San leandro and Oakland 1 OPD chopper, flying in clockwise circle over Davis/San Leandro Blvd roughly; reason unknown
2014-06-18 2:30 pm coliseum red helicopter N666RL circled the coliseum 2x
2014-06-18 1:22 pm coliseum green helicopter flew NW past coliseum
2014-06-17 2:19 pm Dimond 2 copters, flying way up high. 4 alarm brush fire in Dimond Canyon between Park Blvd and Sausal Creek. Pic of smoke from the fire.
2014-06-12 8:30 pm MacArthur and Piedmont Ave Blue helicopter flying in small circle for about 5 minutes

OPD helicopter assisting Alameda Police in felony chase of green Toyota through Oakland, Berkeley and Emeryville. Chase went from Foothill to East 28th to MacArthur to Excelsior to WB I-580, bailed out at Fairmount Ave & Stanley Place before being caught.
2014-06-11 4:20 pm Near Oakland High School Orange helicopter, not clear why it’s circling (orange is probably ABC. orangish-red is Coast Guard)
2014-06-03 11:15 pm Fruitvale  
2014-05-26 7:50ish PM dimond CHP helicopter “Hot chase of theft suspect in Maxima by @CHPoakland w/@CHP_GoldenGate helo overhead, Fruitvale/580. @oaklandpoliceca monitoring only” (source)
2014-05-24 11:50 am downtown Coast Guard helicopter headed north
2014-05-16 11 am downtownish Looks like it’s relating to a large accident blocking 880: https://twitter.com/nataliealund/status/467363410263302144
2014-05-16 2:20 am Temescal Helicopter circling for several hours
2014-04-28 2:12 am Fruitvale Has circled at least 6 times.
2014-04-27 7:45 am Chinatown/Downtown  
2014-04-24 12:45 am circling over uptown/West Oakland any ideas?At 0130, I called OPD non-emergency. They don’t know why the helicopters are in the air, but it may be related to the previous shootings tonight. I’m at Grand/Broadway downtown. At 0132, they turned towards Grand/Broadway and started making announcements on the megaphone that were unintelligible According to folks on twitter, the helicopter said “Come out now” and “Put your hands up”
2014-04-23 8:45 pm Eastmont Hills Police helicopter circling with megaphone but we couldn’t make it out. Scary. ==> possible explanation here
2014-04-18 1:00 pm Montclair / Highway 13 Channel 7 news chopper; possible water main break on Moraga near Maxwelton in Piedmont; Twitter link 1, Twitter link 2
2014-04-16 7:45 pm Old Oakland heard, not seen or IDed
2014-03-23 9:30 am Lake Merritt / Adams Point / East Lake OPD chopper circling over running festival
2014-03-23 7:30 am Downtown/Piedmont Ave Oakland running festival
2014-03-16 11:59 pm Lower Hills  
2014-03-08 5 p.m. -ish 28th Ave. at E. 17th St. Assault reported at World Academy. Suspect at large following lockdown of school.
2014-03-05 3:45 pm Highland Hospital Car was shot on I-580, and victim abandoned car and walked to Highland Hospital. Oakland PD took over investigation from CHP. Twitter link 1; Twitter link 2
2014-02-11 3:00 pm Redwood Heights/Dimond/Laurel Carjacking and related Amber Alert. SFGate. For awhile the helicopter was circling announcing the description of the car and the plates.
2014-01-28 11:45 am Oakmore Highlands, Upper Dimond near Mormon Temple 81-year-old woman shot in shoulder, 4100 block of Laguna Tribune
2014-01-27 11:30 pm Laurel south to San Leandro Shooting in front of Walgreen’s on High Street
2014-01-08 about 5:55ish approximately macarthur and fruitvale, maybe over 580?  
2014-01-04 midnight (the evening of 1/4, into 1/5)   ???
2013-12-12 3 pm-onwards West Oakland Argus (the OPD helicopter) was searching for suspects in West Oakland according to the OPD Twitter feed
2013-12-04 9:30 am Rockridge NBC Bay Area (and others?) over Rockridge station to monitor station closure due to smoking parking brake in train in Berkeley Hills Tunnel
2013-11-18 2:30 pm Rockridge Channel 2 (KTVU) + another chopper over Rockridge, possible overflight from crane rescue at JLS?
2013-11-14 5 pm - 6 pm   over 580 or MacArthur BLVD. possibly vigil for Sasha? I bet it’s the march for Sasha Fleischman (source).
2013-11-03 4 pm   ???
2013-10-25 4:40 pm   media (NBC Bay Area (KNTV), KTVU and KGO) keeping an eye on potential protests related to Urban Shield and the 2nd anniversary of Occupy Oakland’s eviction from Frank Ogawa Plaza
2013-10-08 afternoon Frank Ogawa Plaza BART union rally at 5:00 at
2013-10-?0 4:30 pm Children’s Hospital Oakland REACH Air Medical Service N312RX landing then taking off
2013-09-26 3:30 pm Mountain View Cemetery Unidentified helicopter flying over , reg # N75TV, probably a news copter
2013-08-18 10:30 am Chinatown 3 choppers in a row, headed to America’s Cup races 1
2013-07-13 1:48 pm Emeryville  
2012-02-21 5:20 pm into the evening Berkeley MLK/Carleton/Dwight Way

A BART train derailed near the Concord stop.

2019-07-12 from 6 pm to present 7:30 pm Grand Lake area of Oakland over to Adams Point, Oakland Unknown, perhaps an accident on 580?

Memories of hearing helicopters

  • I was living in the Lakeside neighborhood during the Occupy times and let me tell you, we heard a lot of helicopters. In the days leading up to the first eviction of the camp, everyone was wondering when it was going to happen. Would it be tonight? Maybe tomorrow night? A night without helicopters meant that Occupy had lived another day. And I still remember, I doubt I’ll ever forget, waking up in the middle of the night around 2 am on Oct. 25th and hearing the helicopters. Lying in bed, at home, everything was as quiet as normal, but I knew that just a few blocks away Occupy was being evicted. And I knew it from the helicopters. - mk30
  • While working in downtown, I have seen strings of 3-5 similar choppers flying over Chinatown / downtown in the general direction of Richmond or San Quentin on at least four occasions, but have not been able to get any pix. It appears that they are heading to the America’s Cup, based on this picture from last October of the copter here. - NAParish