San Diego County Helicopter 10 Assists Carlsbad Firefighters

Drone pilot posted an aerial video of illegally shooting a fire while a helicopter was dropping water

San Diego County Helicopter 10 (N449RC) Launches Carlsbad
Bell 205 (N449RC), San Diego County, was set on fire on June 25, 2022 in Carlsbad, California. Photo: Ryan Grothe

Ryan Gross of the Bell 205 Helicopter of the San Diego County Security Agency on June 25, 2022, when he assisted firefighters fighting a 10-acre fire in the Buena Vista Lagoon between Carlsbad, near Carlsbad, California. I took a picture of one H-10 (N449RC). Boulevard and Interstate 5.

The evacuation was effective for some time, but the structure was undamaged.

Police set fire to a 59-year-old man from Carlsbad, David Prosser, arrested and charged him for resisting his arrest.

San Diego County Helicopter 10 (N449RC)
San Diego County Helicopter 10 (N449RC) in a fire near Carlsbad Boulevard. June 25, 2022. Photo by Ryan Grothe.

The drone was flying illegally near the fire

Within hours after the fire spread stopped, a drone video containing aerial footage of the incident was posted on YouTube by NewWave Aerial. The video contains a very sharp shot banked to the left when the helicopter 10 flew towards the drone at about the same altitude and maneuvered before dropping a large amount of water on the fire. Without knowing the type of lens the drone is using, it’s difficult to know how close the two aircraft were, but they could have been just a few hundred feet apart.

New wave aerial illegal drone video fire
Still image posted by New Wave Video taken near a fire in Carlsbad, California, June 25, 2022. The helicopter shown on the right is just leaning to the left after flying towards the drone.

Flying a drone in a fire operated by a helicopter or fixed-wing aircraft is extremely dangerous. Collisions can affect the windshield or damage the engine, props, rotors, or flight control surfaces and cause a collision. If the drone is seen near the fire, the standard operating procedure is to remove all aircraft from the area of ​​fire until you confirm that the drone has left the scene. In other words, it interferes with firefighting activities.

Sergeant G. Lanning of the San Diego County Sheriff’s Astrea Helicopter Division told Fire Aviation that he was unaware that the drone was on fire. He said it would have stopped air operations due to a fire if it had been discovered.

Calls to the FAA and New Wave Video were not returned immediately.


FAA often implements Temporary Flight Restrictions (TFRs) around wildfires to protect aircraft involved in firefighting activities. All aircraft, including drones, are prohibited from flying within restricted areas unless operated by an agency involved in firefighting activities. Drone pilots should avoid flying near wildfires, even if no TFR is set. Interfering with firefighting aircraft, with or without restrictions, is a federal crime and offenders may face severe penalties.

Firefighting traffic area

In fires, regardless of whether TFR is enabled, a standardized initial attack airspace structure and protocol to establish a firefighting traffic area (FTA) on top of the fire and enhance traffic segregation in wildfires. It is common to provide. Aircraft should not enter the FTA until they receive clearance. A standard FTA utilizes a radius of at least 5 nautical miles from an incident, but a radius of more than 5 miles is available if the incident requires it.


This is a federal crime that can result in up to 12 months’ imprisonment for disrupting firefighting activities on public land. In addition, Congress has allowed the FAA to impose civil penalties of up to $ 20,000 for drone pilots who interfere with wildfire control, law enforcement, or emergency response activities. The FAA takes these violations seriously and immediately considers prompt enforcement measures for these violations.

At least 20 unauthorized drone flights on or near wildfires in seven states (Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, Washington, and Minnesota) in 2019, according to the U.S. Forest Service. Due to the recorded cases, aerial firefighting activities were temporarily carried out. Shut down 9 times. Since there is no centralized national mechanism for reporting unauthorized UAS flights in wildfires, these are only incidents known to wildfire management agencies, and there may be more unknowns. there is.

Suspending an air operation can reduce the effectiveness of wildfire control operations, increase wildfires, and in some cases, overly threaten life, property, precious natural and cultural resources. The effects of lost aircraft time can be exacerbated by flames moving to untreated terrain.

Drone fire



Map, Fire in Carlsbad, CA June 25, 2022
Map, June 25, 2022 Fire in Carlsbad, California.

It won’t be on display, but it seems that the local aerial photography service, New Wave Aerial, shot a video from the drone while helicopter 10 was working on a fire. The helicopter is probably clearly visible just a few hundred feet away from the drone.

Operating the drone near other aircraft, especially helicopters and aerial fire extinguishers, is extremely dangerous and can be illegal. Collisions can cause crashes and death of flight crew.

Drone New Wave Aerial on Carlsbad Fire
Still image of a video by NewWave Aerial using a drone in a Carlsbad fire on June 25, 2022.

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