Fire officials say drone nearly collided with firefighting helicopter above East Idaho wildfire
At approximately 9:20 this morning while flying an aerial reconnaissance mission one of the helicopters assigned to the Grassy Ridge Fire had a drone fly within several feet of their aircraft. Fortunately, the pilot spotted the other aircraft just in time to take evasive action and narrowly avoid a midair collision.
The TFR, Temporary Flight Restrictions, bars all non-incident aircraft including drones from flying within the very well-publicized area over the fire. The TFR hours had been modified from round the clock 24-hour restriction to 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. in large part to allow area ranchers and others a window of time to safely search for missing cattle.
The incursion into the TFR airspace nearly cost the lives of three firefighters working this fire and a very expensive aircraft. A photo of a white pickup truck speeding away from the area of the near miss was taken by a flight crew member. The Fremont County Sheriff’s Office was notified and Law Enforcement officers were dispatched to the area.
All aircraft in use for fighting the Grassy Ridge Fire were immediately grounded and will remain so, hampering the fire suppression and repair efforts, until it can be verified that the air space within the TFR over the fire is safe to fly in again.
All pilots regardless of aircraft type including drone operators are required to check FAA NOTAMs (Notice to Airmen) for information, including TFR’s prior to flying.
Remember: We Can’t Fly If You Do!