Be Sure To Check Before YOU Fly
Summertime in many areas of
the United States means dry conditions, combined with high
winds... and with it comes the fire season.
Blazes are currently raging throughout California, Arizona,
Nevada, Colorado, and Washington state... and things will
likely get even worse as the season presses on, which makes it VERY
important for all pilots to check for temporary flight restrictions
related to firefighting operations before taking to the skies.
Temporary Flight Restrictions have become a sad reality for
pilots today, mostly due to increased security measures in the
aftermath of 9/11. No matter how you may feel about the Washington
DC ADIZ, however, you can't argue that TFRs dealing with safety
issues such as wildfires are a necessary and valuable notice to
For the most part, the area covered by a firefighting TFR is
limited to a 10-mile radius around the actual wildfire. Most TFRs
only cover an area up to approximately 5,000 ft AGL, to provide a
safe operating area for firefighting aircraft to maneuver (note
that altitudes on all TFRs are given in MSL, mean sea level.)
However, keep in mind that the smoke (and ash) from the actual
fire can climb a lot higher than that. Just because you CAN,
technically, fly over a wildfire above the TFR altitude
restriction, doesn't mean you should. It's better to give the area
a wide berth, if able... your engine will thank you.
Also be on the lookout for aerial water tankers that may be
flying to the fire from their base of operations, or back from the
scene to reload with fire suppressant and fuel.
There are other factors to consider, as well... which is why
Aero-News encourages our readers to take the time to refresh their
memories on the definitions and procedures for all TFRs -- not just
firefighting or other safety restrictions -- at the first FMI link
Also be sure to check out the latest TFR issuances on the FAA's
website before you fly. We try to post ALL TFRs in a timely manner
on Aero-News... but while the FAA never sleeps, occasionally WE
have to... and there have been times lately that even we can't keep
up with all the TFRs posted by the FAA.
And remember... keep safety in mind ALWAYS.