Arkansas ag pilots
reported a potential threat against our industry on Monday to the local
police department. A man in Earle, Ark., stated on his Facebook page that he
would shoot at any crop dusters that flew near his house. It was reported to
NAAA and the association sent the information to the Arkansas AAA
executive director and ag pilot leaders on its board who reported that the
situation was being dealt with. It was a textbook example of “notice something,
notify someone”—a lesson learned too well almost two decades ago as a
result of the nefarious terrorist attacks against the nation on 9/11/2001. This
week’s incident was another great example of the ag pilot community being
active on Facebook and reporting potential threats as soon as they are seen.
Authorities have removed all firearms from the suspect’s
home and charges are pending. The suspect has severe physical health issues
confining him to his home, requiring authorities to evaluate how to proceed.
It is a federal crime
to shoot at aircraft, including unmanned aircraft systems. Penalties can be
as severe as 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Even the threat of
shooting down an aircraft can result in a five-year prison sentence.
NAAA’s shooting-response checklist details actions operators and pilots can
take in the event someone discharges a firearm at their aircraft. The checklist includes
tips on how to report a shooting incident and spread the word to bring the
perpetrator to justice.
NAAA’s shooting-response checklist is available here to
print out. It contains the following steps along with NAAA’s advice.
Checklist for Pilots
Subjected to Discharge of a Firearm Targeting an Ag Aircraft
- Inform Local Law Enforcement
- Contact the FBI
- Report it to the FAA National Safety Hotline
- Call your Local Flight Standards Office (FSO)
- File a NASA Aviation Safety Report
- Tell Other Pilots
- Notify Local News Media
- Contact Your Insurance Agent if Warranted
In addition to its shooting-response checklist, NAAA is available to
offer additional assistance in the event of an ag aircraft shooting. Contact
NAAA at (202) 546-5722 for further support.