|Groveton Times - Local News
Copyright 2017 - Polk County Publishing Company
Forest Service urges caution when flying drones
Flying drones is a fast-growing hobby, but Forest Service officials are warning that drones are becoming a fast-growing problem for firefighters doing their job. While unmanned aerial vehicles, or drones, may be flown in many places in the National Forests and Grasslands in Texas (NFGT), there are areas where they can't be flown by federal law and in accordance with FAA guidelines. Areas where they shouldn't be flown include: -- Campgrounds and trailheads -- U.S. Forest Service helibases, airtanker bases, and other aircraft facilities including backcountry airstrips -- Areas where aircraft are performing wildfire suppression or other natural resource management missions, such as aerial surveys for forest health protection and controlled fire Anyone who wants to fly drones in the National Forest should follow FAA safety guidelines which include: -- Fly below 400 feet and remain clear of surrounding obstacles -- Keep the aircraft within visual line of sight at all times -- Remain well clear of and do not interfere with manned aircraft operations -- Don't fly within 5 miles of an airport unless you contact the airport and control tower before flying -- Don't fly near people or stadiums -- Don't fly an aircraft that weighs more than 55 pounds -- Don't be careless or reckless with your unmanned aircraft; you could be fined for endangering people or other aircraft. The U.S. Forest Service's "If You Fly, We Can't" campaign strongly encourages the public to contact the Ranger District office ahead of time in the area of the National Forest where they want to fly a drone to see if any agency flights are scheduled.