WYOMING — In the last ten days drones flying near wildfires have required that firefighting aircraft cease operations, sometimes for hours at a time.
Yesterday the Federal Aviation Administration sent a mass email to individuals who have registered their drones with the agency, warning them that “drone operators who interfere with wildfire suppression efforts are subject to civil penalties of up to $27,500 and possible criminal prosecution”.
There are lots of great places to fly your drones, but over or near a wildfire is not one of them. In fact, drone operators who interfere with wildfire suppression efforts are subject to civil penalties of up to $27,500 and possible criminal prosecution.
Here is why it’s important: Aerial firefighting aircraft, such as air tankers and helicopters, fly at very low altitudes, just a couple of hundred feet above the ground and in the same airspace as hobby and recreational drones. This creates the potential for a mid- air collision that could seriously injure or kill wildland firefighters in the air or on the ground.
As a result of unlawful drone operations near fires this year, fire managers have temporarily grounded all aerial firefighting aircraft on several occasions for safety reasons. Shutting down firefighting operations could cause wildfires to become larger and can threaten lives, property, and valuable natural and cultural resources.
The bottom line is “If You Fly, We Can’t.”
Please fly responsibly – keep your drone away from wildfires.