Prepare for firefighting TFRs, says AOPA

July 16, 2013

Where there's smoke, there may be a TFR in place. Check notams this firefighting season.

As fire season continues, general aviation pilots are reminded to be aware of and prepare for temporary flight restrictions (TFRs) during the pre-flight process. Flying near forest fires can create great danger to a GA pilot, and not planning ahead of the flight can leave pilots in danger of penetrating TFRs.

Pilots flying near an area with potential wildfires should do the following: obtain a complete pre-flight briefing; check notams prior to flight; be vigilant in parts of the country where wild fires occur; and visit the FAA's website for graphical TFR depictions.

There has been a reported uptick in GA pilots violating firefighting TFRs, so members are advised to plan accordingly. “We want pilots to make sure they are aware of how to prepare for firefighting TFRs as part of their pre-flight planning to ensure pilots remain out of harm’s way,” said Melissa McCaffrey, AOPA senior government analyst of air traffic services. 

The size of a firefighting TFR can vary depending upon the extent of fire, so pilots should leave plenty of room from a TFR, as smoke and other hazards can drift beyond boundaries and put them in danger.