With one of the most destructive wildfire outbreaks in California history, general aviation pilots need to be aware of and prepare for temporary flight restrictions (TFRs) caused by fire. First and foremost, stay away. But if you can't avoid flying near wildfire-prone areas, extra caution is due.
Where there's a hot spot, there may be a TFR in place to provide a safe environment for firefighting aircraft operations. Read about pilots and their efforts to fight fires from the air in " Hot Shots," by Tom LeCompte in the AOPA Pilot October 2007 issue.
Be aware of hazardous areas by checking FAA-issued notams restricting flight in Southern California to provide a safe environment for aerial firefighting operations.
Besides the obvious danger of collision with air tankers and air attack aircraft over a major fire, other dangers include reduced visibility due to smoke and haze, strong downdrafts due to smoke columns and convective build-up, high density altitudes, and possible temperature inversions.
So you don't get burned by fire TFRs, use AOPA's Real-Time Flight Planner to help plan your route around airspace, current or imminent TFRs, and real-time weather.
October 25, 2007