I have a crop-duster spraying the fields around me often. He flies over my house no matter what field he is spraying every few minutes. I think he uses my house as a pivot point. The old pilot rarely flew over my place.

My livestock goes nuts. It is annoying. He has to fly low and is loud. I called the company awhile back and they said he was new and he would talk to him. He is back today flying over repeatedly and I called the company and the owner told me he would call me back. No call back and it goes to voice mail now when I call him.

Is there anything I can do? I told the owner that I understood they may have to fly over once in awhile but this is over the top.


4 Answers 4


In a rural area pilots can fly pretty low, and are permitted to fly even lower while carrying out a lawful activity such as crop-dusting. Even if the pilot flew at 500 feet above your house, which is probably the maximum that he needs to stay away, it would still be loud and disturbing to your livestock.

You should try to work it out with the company and/or the pilot in an amicable way.

Unless your house is located in a congested area, the minimum altitude the pilot must maintain is 500 ft. However, if your house is located in a sparsely populated area, the pilot may be able to fly much lower than that. However, while the pilot is in the process of spraying, or turning around to spray he is allowed to fly lower than that minimum. Otherwise, the pilot may have to do dangerous steep climbs and descents.

For example, lets say the pilot is in violation of minimum altitude regulations by flying over your house at some minimal altitude below 500 ft. Lets assume you get the pilot busted and the pilot receives a warning, citation, or temporary suspension. When he comes back he can just fly over at 500 ft legally all day long, and that will probably be almost as noisy and disturbing to your livestock.

Alternatively, you can lease a small part of your land to AT&T to put a 1000ft tall cellular antenna on your property.

But seriously, as a pilot, if I heard that my flying was causing you so many problems, I would try to avoid it as best as possible, so long as it doesn't affect safety.

  • 8
    $\begingroup$ Could you lawfully build such a tower yourself? I assume even a 300 ft mast, which is probably doable, would be enough to scare pilots away. Or, easier, fly kites? (Of course a mast could be an even more valuable landmark...) $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 30, 2017 at 11:43
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ I like the tower idea. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barrage_balloon $\endgroup$
    – ceejayoz
    Commented Jun 30, 2017 at 13:10
  • 6
    $\begingroup$ @mongo it was just offered as an example; it may or may not be a violation. If pilot needs to fly at 200ft over OP's house to safely conduct his crop dusting or for landing and take-offs, then its likely not a violation. But, if he is just flying over her house as a reference point all day at 200ft, then he might be violating FAR 91.119 (c), which requires aircraft to fly at 500 feet above the surface in "other than congested areas" or at distance of 500 feet from any person (i.e. the OP), vessel, vehicle (i.e the OP's tractor), or structure (i.e. barn), in a "sparsely populated" area. $\endgroup$
    – Devil07
    Commented Jun 30, 2017 at 13:56
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ Actually, for the most parts, radio masts are regulated federally by the FCC. As a ham radio operator, you can build a properly licensed station and could have a 1000 ft tower. You would have to clear it with the FAA if you are near an airport, add lights etc as required, and the locals have a say as far as safety goes, but nothing else (again, as long as it is somehow properly licensed by the FCC). So the locals could dictate where it goes on your property so it could not fall on other people's property, but that's about it. $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 30, 2017 at 15:27
  • 5
    $\begingroup$ Your first sentence sounds a bit as if pilots are required to use higher altitudes when performing unlawful activities ... :) $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 1, 2017 at 16:12

I did some Pawnee flying years ago, and have fielded a bunch of complaints about ag applicators from people. Here's my experience:

  1. The FSDO will probably not care. Ag application is a different set of rules, and there is wide latitude on min safe alt. You can talk to them, but in my experience, they yawn.
  2. New guys aren't always sensitive to the community.
  3. Personal visits, and if you can nicely talking with the pilot almost always works, but certainly talking with the boss works.
  4. In the states I am most familiar with, there are right to farm legislation, and that makes life easier for farmers (and ag applicators).
  5. Contacting the farmer who is working the land, and having him get you in touch with the applicator is also a good strategy, because farmers care more about their neighbors than applicators.

Having said all that, if you are having livestock issues, then you are being harmed, and there is greater risk. Personally, I would write a letter and send it to the farmer, applicator (if you know who) and the FSDO. Ultimately, in my experience, these matters are resolved only by persuading the applicator to do his field differently.

Sorry, no regurgitation of regulations here, because from your description, the regulations are not going to fix things.

Addendum #1 I changed my mind. I need to cite 14 CFR 137.49, which states that an aircraft may be operated closer than 500 feet to persons, buildings and the ground. This is essential for effective ag application, and I can say that 50 foot clearances over buildings are quite common. 100 foot clearances over houses are as well. How low is too low? Where will you go when the fan quits, and if you can clear the structure or person and make a suitable off airport landing (or at least argue that you could) then you are fine. The rules are different for congested areas, and the FAA changes their interpretation of congested areas as they wish, but in all my years in aviation, I have never heard of a ag applicator being violated for unsafe altitude, when performing ag operations. So to summarize, over an uncongested area, there is no regulatory figure of X number of feet. It's not 500, it's not 200. Period.

Finally, if you are aggrieved by the operation, then you may have a tort action, not a regulatory action. In all fairness, there have been successful tort actions where disturbance of livestock and race horses have been involved.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ "Where will you go when the fan quits" reminds me of the old joke that the prop is there to keep the pilot cool. Just see him sweat when it stops... $\endgroup$
    – jwenting
    Commented Jul 25, 2018 at 9:09

Crop dusting is a legitimate reason to be flying low, so the FAA is almost certainly not going to come to your aid. From their point of view what he's doing is legal, as long as he isn't doing something unsafe.

Obviously you should try every recourse to resolve it amicably. But if you need to involve law enforcement it will be your local sheriff that would deal with things like annoyances and such. Since you have cattle I'm assuming you're not inside a city limit, so it's possible there are no noise ordinances that he's violating. You may have little recourse, legally.

It sounds a little screwy to me. The dusters I've watched never spend more than an hour or so even on large fields. There may be something about the topography or transmission wires or something that makes your place a good spot to turn or something. If you think he might be intentionally harassing you since you called his company that would be something local law enforcement would be responsible for. The FAA would almost certainly tell you to call the local police/sheriff.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ There are several fields that surround me that he sprays. He goes back to his base and refills and comes back. I have 800ft in front of my house and 1,200 behind it plus several hundred acres all around that he could use to turn without buzzing me repeatedly. I think he just uses my place as a pivot point. $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 3, 2017 at 21:31

Preface: I am not an aviation lawyer and the advice I offer here should not be interpreted as the letter of the law. A real lawyer may be necessary in some instances.

The other answers here cover the regulations well, but as for a course of action, if you feel he is breaching a regulation (flying dangerously low for no reason etc.) you can reach out to your local FSDO to report it.

Contact a FSDO for

  • Low-flying aircraft

However as mentioned they may not be of much help since he is more than likely well within his rights as they pertain to the FAA.

The other option you have is to speak with your local legislators about a noise abatement for the area which you may have some very legitimate grounds for.


You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .