Drone Operators Warned: Stop Flying Them Over Wildfires

A government and industry campaign to encourage safe drone operation wants people to stop flying their drones into wildfires.

The warning from Know Before You Fly comes after a drone incident late last month that “could’ve killed everybody in the air” fighting the massive Lake Fire in the San Bernardino Mountains.


According to the San Bernardino County Sun, a drone with a 3-to-4-foot wingspan flew at 12,000 feet between U.S. Forest Service air tankers, forcing the pilots to terminate their mission of dropping fire retardant on the flames.

Officials also spotted a second drone hovering at 700 feet. The altitude restriction is 400 feet.

The Federal Aviation Administration and the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI), Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA) and the Small UAV Coalition have been cautioning users to fly at an altitude lower than the Great Pyramid of Giza.

Today, the coalition said drone users need to respect temporary flight restrictions like those brought about by wildfires or by events such as the Super Bowl.

“There should be no traffic within the boundaries of a TFR – manned or unmanned – except for those supporting the operations. Violating restricted airspace has serious consequences,” said AUVSI president Brian Wynne. “As more and more people operate UAS, newcomers may not know how to check for TFRs or even that they have a responsibility to do so.”


“It is our hope to make these common-sense guidelines, including where one should and shouldn’t fly, more accessible to people increasingly taking to the skies.”

“TFRs are put in place for a reason. Regardless of whether they are over large crowds, emergency situations or stadium events such as Major League Baseball games, it is important that people respect these restrictions to ensure the safety of all involved,” said AMA director Dave Mathewson. “TFRs often pop up on short notice, so I encourage model aircraft and UAS operators to check the FAA website before taking the skies.”


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