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National Agricultural Aviation Association eNewsletter
Voice of the Aerial Application Industry
August 14, 2014
Helicopter Ag Pilot Harassed by UAV in Illinois

The UAV pilot said he didn’t like aircraft flying over his property so he used the model aircraft to scare them off.

Several weeks ago an Illinois helicopter ag pilot was circling at 300 feet above a field he was preparing to treat looking for obstructions, people or anything relevant to his application when all of a sudden, an unmanned aerial vehicle airplane made a climbing pass in close proximity directly in front of his helicopter. The pilot reported to NAAA that he was fortunate that he was only traveling at 50 mph instead of at a fixed-wing speed of 120 mph or higher. The UAV was an aerobatic Extra airplane with about a five- or six-foot wingspan. After the UAV flew by it then proceeded to do aerobatics around the helicopter, then within close proximity to the rotorcraft began formation flying. This created a hazardous and uncomfortable situation for the pilot.


The helicopter looked around until he spotted the “pilot” controlling the UAV and landed near his back yard. The model was landed only after the ag pilot insisted to the UAV operator that he do so for safety concerns.


The pilot then notified the FAA FSDO of the incident and they sent the local police to investigate. They located the UAV’s pilot and he readily admitted his activities. The pilot admitted he had flown the model above 400 feet which is the ceiling allowed for model aircraft. He said he didn’t like aircraft flying over his property so he used the model to scare them off.


When they learned the reason for the dangerous flying, the FSDO decided to seek prosecution of the individual. The helicopter pilot has been asked to submit a statement of the events that occurred. NAAA will keep a watch on the situation as it develops.


In a conversation with our contact at FAA Headquarters about the incident, he made it clear that the FAA needs to know when incidents with UAVs occur. Otherwise they are not able to determine the extent of the hazard to manned aircraft and do not have a case to require safety measures for UAVs such as onboard lighting and identification/tracking systems such as ADS-B Out. If you find yourself involved in a near miss with a UAV, please file a report with your local FSDO, local law enforcement and NAAA whenever an event occurs so it can be officially documented.


In cases where an intentional act is not involved, some pilots have been reluctant to report the incident to either the FAA or local law enforcement to prevent enforcement action taken in those cases. Although laws and procedures vary from state to state, NAAA contacted a sheriff to see if his office was required to seek prosecution whenever a report is filed. In his jurisdiction, an informational report can be filed with no follow-up action required. NAAA can then use this report to compile information on incidents that may occur. An additional benefit to filing the report is that if that person’s offenses continue to occur, a history has been created for possible prosecution should a subsequent incident occur. 

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This newsletter is intended for NAAA members only. NAAA requests that should any party desire to publish, distribute or quote any part of this newsletter that they first seek the permission of the Association. The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed herein do not necessarily represent those of the National Agricultural Aviation Association (NAAA), its Board of Directors, staff or membership. Items in this newsletter are not the result of paid advertising and are only meant to highlight newsworthy developments. No endorsement by NAAA is intended or implied.
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