Saturday, August 04, 2012

Low Flying Crop Duster Wakes Up Suburban Phoenix Neighborhood

 BryanSnider captured a video of a crop duster flying extremely low to a residential community. He says being a FAA certified commercial pilot he was shocked to see a crop duster flying so low to the ground at three in the morning in Maricopa, Arizona. 'Federal Aviation Regulations are very strict about flying low over populated areas except during takeoff and landings,' he says. He says the aircraft made several passes over people's homes and then came back around. The flying woke up several people in the neighborhood, he adds. 'Many people first thought the plane was going to crash,' he says. 'This is because its flight path looked similar to the dive bombing technique you'd see in videos from World War II.' He says it is important that people be mindful of flying properly and carefully. 'I was almost killed a few years ago when the plane I was flying was almost hit, in mid-air, by another plane which was being piloted by a pilot flying recklessly near Kansas City,' he says.  - Jareen, CNN iReport producer

After heading to bed I was brought out of bed by the sounds of a aircraft that sounded to be flying extremely low over my house. After going out to see what exactly was going on I quickly realized it was a crop duster working on some fields just west of my neighborhood.

Seeing that the aircraft was continuing to fly low over the neighborhood I decided to head out in my car to capture some video to see how low this pilot was flying over houses at 3:30 in the morning.

Being a pilot myself I couldn't help but think of FAR (Federal Aviation Regulations) 91.119 and how unless I'm missing something, the aircraft was well below the minimum altitude over a populated area and the aircraft was not landing nor taking off.

Here's a full text version of 91.119 taken from the FAA's website.

FAR (Federal Aviation Regulations) Sec. 91.119

Minimum safe altitudes: General.

Except when necessary for takeoff or landing, no person may operate an aircraft below the following altitudes:
(a) Anywhere. An altitude allowing, if a power unit fails, an emergency landing without undue hazard to persons or property on the surface.
(b) Over congested areas. Over any congested area of a city, town, or settlement, or over any open air assembly of persons, an altitude of 1,000 feet above the highest obstacle within a horizontal radius of 2,000 feet of the aircraft.
(c) Over other than congested areas. An altitude of 500 feet above the surface, except over open water or sparsely populated areas. In those cases, the aircraft may not be operated closer than 500 feet to any person, vessel, vehicle, or structure.
[ (d) Helicopters, powered parachutes, and weight-shift-control aircraft. If the operation is conducted without hazard to persons or property on the surface--
(1) A helicopter may be operated at less than the minimums prescribed in paragraph (b) or (c) of this section, provided each person operating the helicopter complies with any routes or altitudes specifically prescribed for helicopters by the FAA; and
(2) A powered parachute or weight-shift-control aircraft may be operated at less than the minimums prescribed in paragraph (c) of this section.

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