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.
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