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Smoke Gets In Your Eyes

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It is clearly, or should I say not clearly, that time of year when fires tend to be a factor out west. This weekend I had planned to be a part of the annual Husky Flyin at the Root Ranch in the Central Idaho Wilderness. This annual event is hosted by RAF supporter and friend Dr. Paul Collins of Boise, Idaho.

Dr. Paul made a decision to cancel this years flyin at the Root Ranch due to the fires that are in proximity to the area. So, if any of you had planned to be at the Root Ranch this weekend you need to make other plans.

In discussing the cancellation with Dr. Paul the larger subject of flying in the backcountry during these kinds of conditions warrants extra precaution. Most of you surely know what flying in low vis conditions can be like, but please take double caution if you decide to venture into areas that forest fires are prevalent. The first thing to check is for TFR’s that can not only pop up quickly, but can change due to the outline of the fire area. These fires can move miles in a day and do so quickly. What might have been a doable flight in the morning can turn into IFR in the afternoon. The fun places that we all enjoy can turn deadly if you venture into these areas.

So, be sure to do plenty of pre-flight planning, give yourself some options for both turning around and perhaps finding a place to go that does not have the associated issues surrounding some of these fires. Just want you to be safe and be aware.

John McKenna Jr.

Chairman RAF


...adding to John's caution - keep in mind that fires in Wilderness areas typically don't have an associated TFR, because they don't typically fight those fires with aircraft. So as you look at the TFR map, realize that it isn't a comprehensive picture of where all the fires are located. Don't be surprised to fly toward your favorite Wilderness destination only to find it consumed by smoke. Going higher might not always resolve your problem. Often in areas of high pressure, a warm air "cap" exists and you may find you encounter even denser smoke the higher up you go. Turning around is the best answer in those situations.
Let's be careful out there and assume the worst this time of year.