A serious question, here: There's gotta be a pilot out there somewhere who has done a memorial request to spray someone's ashes over a city street. I'm gonna do it out of spite for a lousy little mill town in Central Pa. There seems to be no laws against it on the books. 500' fly-overs are okay, spreading ashes falls under no FAA rule that I can find. When I go (soon, I'm an AO affected Vietnam Vet), I plan to have a contract with a crop-duster or acrobatic pilot for a decent show. Aside from (moral) advice, can someone comment, please? I wish to know of any known regulations governing this, especially any against.
AOPA has an entire article on it that's worth reading and while it's generally fine with the FAA (assuming the pilot isn't being careless or reckless), there may be other regulations or laws that apply. The article mentions:
- Permission needed for scattering over federal land
- Permission needed for scattering over water (federal and local regulations)
- State burial requirements
But there are two specific aviation regulations that might apply to the flight. First, 14 CFR 91.15:
§91.15 Dropping objects.
No pilot in command of a civil aircraft may allow any object to be dropped from that aircraft in flight that creates a hazard to persons or property. However, this section does not prohibit the dropping of any object if reasonable precautions are taken to avoid injury or damage to persons or property.
Second, you said that you plan to have a "contract" with someone to scatter the ashes, which implies that you're going to pay the pilot. If that's the case, then the pilot may not use an experimental aircraft for the flight. That's because the FAA considers carrying human ashes to be carrying property (Harris interpretation, 2009) and 91.319(a) doesn't allow carrying property for compensation in experimental aircraft:
(a) No person may operate an aircraft that has an experimental certificate—
(1) For other than the purpose for which the certificate was issued; or
(2) Carrying persons or property for compensation or hire.
Finally, note that accidents can and do happen and in at least one case two people died while spreading ashes (although to be fair, the toxicology data was fairly 'interesting' in that one).