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 Willy Fernandez on July 25, 2014 at 8:52pm

According to latest news worldwide, flying drones have caught the attention of government regulators such as FAA, Civil Aviation Board and others. This is because there are complaints from people... and incidents such as this one and many more. Yes safety first and...above our passion for flying. I think we should all be more responsible as hobbyists...even though... others are not.

Comment by Gary Mortimer on July 26, 2014 at 1:46am

@Tom Mahood I also wondered if UAS are being played. The crop dusting folks asked for reports and got one.... This is not of course the first UAS cropduster airprox, that was in Australia.

That said though your comment about giving way to manned aircraft rather smacked of it being a problem for you. UAS will and must always give way to manned aircraft. 

Its time for many RPAS operators to grow up and start reading airlaw and carrying aviation charts. The FAA is not helping with its lack of action and rush to enforcement rather than training. Other aviation authorities rather use the carrot than stick. 

Comment by Hai Tran on July 26, 2014 at 1:52am

The the crop duster pilot saw an unknown flying object, which he suspected to be a kite but continued to fly towards it?  hmmmmmm  If you see a potential hazard and you continue to fly towards it, you're an idiot!

When it comes to aviation law, it's clear, ALL pilots have a duty to SEE and AVOID.  If he hits any object, then he is equally to blame.  If that was a manned balloon or glider, then in fact he would have been at fault as unpowered aircraft have the right of way, and then there is the rule where two aircraft on a converging path, the aircraft on the right has the right of way.

Until a new rule that says unmanned aircraft shall give right of way to manned aircraft (which is probably a good idea), then as it stands, an unmanned aircraft has the same RIGHTS and RESPONSIBILITIES a manned aircraft to be below 400ft outside controlled airspace.  The Farmer has no ownership over the airspace over his property, except ask that the pilot of the unmanned aircraft not physically stand on his property.

Comment by Rob_Lefebvre on July 26, 2014 at 5:39am

I agree with the others who say the Phantom pilot was not automatically at fault for being where he was.  If the duster had not been there, we'd all say he was safely flying at low altitude in a remote area.  Suddenly and without warning a crop duster appears, and all of the sudden it's he's flying dangerously?  Sorry, that's not realistic.

Now, once the crop duster appeared, it's not clear what happened.  Did the Phantom pilot control his aircraft properly?  Better yet, did the crop duster?

I imagine the crop dusting industry have a vested interest in tarring and feathering the UAV industry, since in the near future they will be direct competitors, with UAV's able to spray fields more accurately, faster, and at lower cost...

Comment by Rob_Lefebvre on July 26, 2014 at 5:43am

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. 

Because these people are not flying model aircraft out of an interested in aviation.  They are buying flying cameras.

Comment by Thomas J Coyle III on July 26, 2014 at 5:45am


Nice observation:-)


TCIII ArduRover2 Developer

Comment by R. D. Starwalt on July 26, 2014 at 7:05am

Bingo Rob, well put!

Anybody else think the next releases of consumer 'flying cameras' will come from Sony, Canon, Nikon, ...??

They have all the industrial base needed to pull it off.

While I was driving through Arkansas, SW of Memphis several weeks ago, I watched the Ag pilots doing their thing. Often, several were working different fields simultaneously. I turned my head to look out the driver side window as one passed over my car, about 75 to 100 feet...over a busy road. He wasn't landing to reload, just going to the next field. I did get to see one land for reloading. Those guys land on some sketchy surfaces and do it all day long.

The Ag Pilot knew his stuff. The quad pilot should have dropped throttle regardless of where it was...even if it got sprayed.. which it probably would not have as the Ag Pilot would not unload with someone in the path of whatever he was spraying - probably.

Consumers - Great for product sales, terrible for overall safety and public opinion.


Comment by Gary McCray on July 26, 2014 at 8:31am

For better or worse, flying cameras with complete dunderheads are in our future and probably going to grow faster than any other segment.

We need to figure out how to handle this.

One concept I have says if you cam make them small, light and inconsequential enough the safety concerns rapidly approach zero.

And given the newest breed of cell phone cameras (Ambarella 9) it seems like we could make a bare "chip" based a camera with integrated tiny brushless gimbal (optical stabilization) that would actually let us build Quads in the sub 8 ounce (maybe even 4) that could qualify.

People determined to haul around big bulky heavy cameras (like the GoPro) actually need to learn how to fly but these little ones would be reasonably safe even with the current crop of idiots,

The privacy and annoyance issues are another ball of wax but from my thoughts on that - the horse has already left the barn.

Comment by Andy Horka on July 26, 2014 at 11:10am
In Canada the rules from Transport Canada are simple, UAVs must get out of the way when a full sized aircraft is heading for the UAV. Not really sure how there can be a discussion? Why on God's green earth would an rc pilot not yield to a full sized aircraft?
Comment by Hans H. on July 27, 2014 at 5:51am

We probably all agree that drones should be flown responsibly and give way to other aircraft. However, the article has a couple of problems:

No name on the policeman, the area or the journalist. No date for the event.

The picture is old without being related to the event.

Where is the ground staff? What does ground staff / lookout do?

There may be a dozen children on the field flying kites! Should the pilot then flying into them? ... and spray the kids with pesticides?


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