The Know Before You Fly campaign is urging unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) operators to respect temporary flight restrictions (TFRs) over and around wildfires after recent incidents in San Bernardino National Forest in California halted the airborne firefighting operations for some time.

“There should be no traffic within the boundaries of a TFR – manned or unmanned – except for those supporting the operations. Violating restricted airspace has serious consequences,” says Brian Wynne, president and CEO of the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI). “As more and more people operate UAS, newcomers may not know how to check for TFRs or even that they have a responsibility to do so. It is our hope to make these common-sense guidelines, including where one should and shouldn’t fly, more accessible to people increasingly taking to the skies.”

Wildfires or other hazardous conditions often lead to authorities putting in place TFRs, which allow first responders to do their jobs unimpeded and without danger to their aerial support. Violating the TFR may endanger the safety of the operation, and in some cases may ground search and rescue crews until the airspace is cleared, allowing the wildfire to spread. TFRS do not just apply to wildfires, however. For stadium events ranging from concerts to NASCAR races to the Super Bowl, model aircraft flights and unmanned aircraft operations are generally restricted.

“TFRs are put in place for a reason. Regardless of whether they are over large crowds, emergency situations or stadium events such as Major League Baseball games, it is important that people respect these restrictions to ensure the safety of all involved,” says Dave Mathewson, executive director of the Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA). “TFRs often pop up on short notice, so I encourage model aircraft and UAS operators to check the FAA website before taking the skies.”

To check for TFRs in your area, visit the FAA TFR list at http://tfr.faa.gov/tfr2/list.html.

The Know Before You Fly campaign was launched in 2014 by the Academy of Model Aeronautics, the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) and the Small UAV Coalition, in partnership with the Federal Aviation Administration, with the goal of spreading awareness about safe and responsible use of unmanned aircraft systems.