First UAV Near Miss with Ag Aircraft Reported in Pacific Northwest


From the SUAS Feed

Earlier this week a pilot from Idaho was preparing to begin a spray run through a field. Barely visible ahead of him was a small stationary object. He decided it must be a kite since a bird would not remain motionless. As he neared the object, it rapidly shot straight up. The pilot took evasive action but it passed so close to the airplane that he was unsure if it had missed the aircraft and spray system. It was close enough for him to be able to identify the make and model of the quad-rotor unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV). He did not see the vehicle again as he finished the field but he did see the suspected operator/pilot in a car near the field. When he went to the next field, the car followed him where he observed the car’s occupant taking pictures with a hand-held camera.

Full article here: UAV near miss with crop duster

Views: 4381

Comment by Jeremy Spain on July 25, 2014 at 3:17pm

X2 @Coyle; The sUAS operator most likely didn't have permission to fly over those fields, most farmers know when their field is being sprayed.

The sUAS operator should have been able to hear and see the plane coming.  The pilot isn't going to do scans every few seconds to see if a UAS has popped up here or there.

Cropdusters need to be low enough to the crop to be effective.  It's sad to see comments that are placing blame on the cropduster.

Comment by Tom Mahood on July 25, 2014 at 3:25pm

Hey, one other thing in regards to this. Have a look at the source article for this bit of news, located here.  Notice anything odd? There are no names, dates or even locations (other than Idaho) anywhere in the piece. There isn't even a writer's name attached to it. But there are all sorts of other very specific details like the quad owner's "remorsefulness" and being "visibly shocked". Doing a bit of Googling fails to turn up any other mention of such an event, even though allegedly local law enforcement AND the FAA were involved.

Perhaps our community is being played?

Comment by John McGrath on July 25, 2014 at 3:50pm

Ok I gotta comment. If your an AMA member in good standing you do not have to fly at ama sanctioned fields. If you follow specific guidelines set out by the AMA which I am not going into you are covered to fly your remote control craft. But remember they have guidelines if you are not following them which this person was not he would not be covered.  Go on the AMA website and find the guidelines they are in PDF.

Furthermore, after reading the story I can guarantee you that someone called the FAA ie "FSDO office stops out just as a courtesy call"?  I can tell you there was a phone call made because people were hot about the incident. As I would be if I were flying the AG plane.  This guy should of not been anywhere near this AG plane spraying. They were very lucky they didn't press charges.  Again this is why the FAA is putting the screws to all of this. Not a good thing.

Comment by Thomas J Coyle III on July 25, 2014 at 4:07pm


The AMA is like your average auto insurance corporation. They are glad to take your money until you have an accident and then will fight you tooth and nail to not payout. Of course, there are always exceptions.

I am an AMA member and I recommend that, if you ever come here, you only fly at either of the two AMA sanctioned fields here in Broward County, FL. If you don't, you might get surprised when you find that the AMA liability insurance does not cover you if you fly in a public area where your aircraft can do either property or personal damage if it goes out of control.


TCIII ArduRover2 Developer

Comment by Philip Giacalone on July 25, 2014 at 4:57pm

I agree with everyone here that puts the blame on the UAV operator. Real aircraft and human lives will always take precedence over UAV operations. And rightfully so. 

Seems to me that this hobby is headed for big trouble. And for more regulation, certainly.

The number of inexperienced and completely unaware UAV operators is exploding, as costs drop and required piloting skills almost disappear. Many, many of these new 'pilots' will treat their newly purchased drones as simple toys, flying them wherever they want, whenever they want, with no regard or awareness of the consequences. This can only mean trouble for the hobby. Sadly. 

Comment by Harry on July 25, 2014 at 5:29pm

Why are all these idiots, DJI buyers?  I'm not hoping for anybody to prove me wrong, but the high visibility incidents always involve that brand.  Are all these buyers(not flyers first)stoned or something?

Go to BVMjets and read the opinion of an RC industry expert.  It just keeps getting uglier and uglier.  

Comment by Willy Fernandez on July 25, 2014 at 5:41pm
We have been flying over banana plantations but before we do aerial survey, farm owners inform the community around the areas about the presence of drone. We cover farm areas around 600 hectares without "line of sight". Yes, pilots that do crop dusting are also informed to make sure that flight schedule are arranged accordingly.
I think that quadcopter operator was taking footage for his own purpose.

Comment by Thomas J Coyle III on July 25, 2014 at 6:14pm


I am in agreement with you concerning the agenda of the sUAS operator.

He could have been shooting the head on approach of the crop dusting plane, planning to drop down below the plane just in time, to put on YouTube and impress his friends.


TCIII ArduRover2 Developer 

Comment by Robert Pigeon on July 25, 2014 at 7:36pm

I think it prudent for a ag pilot to do a fly over before he /she drops to low altitude and starts spraying. I am not in any way trying to point a finger at the ag or uav pilot,but everyone is in charge of their own safety. I wish more people would remember that.

Comment by Ben Dellar on July 25, 2014 at 8:41pm

Once again I am uncomfortable with all of the speculation about motives here (regarding either operator). As has been mentioned the article is extremely vague on some of the details and guessing about who was doing what why or with what permission is unhelpful. 

As many have pointed out - below 400 feet line of sight over an un-populated area is entirely legal and responsible flying (in this case for both operators) and the responsibility in this situation rests equally with the drone operator and the Ag pilot to see and avoid (as it seems happened here).

The drones do seem to be getting excess coverage - for light GA there would be dozens of incidents a day like this where pilots see each other and appropriately get out of the way. Thinking back to my flying C152s in the local training area you would spot 2-3 other aircraft per flight and would stay clear of them.


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