Combination of low-flying aircraft and drones can be deadly
SANTA FE ― The annual aerial survey for insect and disease outbreaks on the 1.6- million-acre Santa Fe National Forest (SFNF) begins any day and continues intermittently through Aug. 18.
Forest Service airplanes and helicopters regularly fly over private, state, and National Forest System lands at low altitudes to perform a variety of natural resource management missions, including insect and disease surveys, remote sensing to acquire aerial images and data, and firefighting.
Under Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) safety guidelines, members of the public are required to fly drones at or below 400 feet, about the same altitude Forest Service aircraft fly on natural resource management missions. The combination of low-flying aircraft and drones can be deadly.
It is the drone operator’s responsibility to be aware of Forest Service flights and stay grounded. The SFNF urges drone operators to utilize the B4UFLY app athttps://www.faa.gov/uas/where_to_fly/b4ufly/. This app provides situational awareness by letting drone pilots know where they should and should not fly and where there might be conflicts with manned aircraft activities.
Data collected from the insect and disease aerial surveys can be accessed at https://foresthealth.fs.usda.gov/portal/Flex/IDS.
For questions related to this non-fire natural resource management aerial mission, contact Crystal Tischler, Forest Health Coordinator & Aerial Surveyor, at 505.842.3284 or firstname.lastname@example.org.