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How dangerous is it for a huge all black helicopter to be flying below 500 feet over my house, for a half hour now, spraying pesticides all over the area and my farm animals. It is shaking the whole house and almost took the tops off the tall trees in back.

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    $\begingroup$ Welcome, Eileen. Location, please? $\endgroup$
    – mkennedy
    Jul 11 at 18:58
  • $\begingroup$ Rural Cass County NE $\endgroup$ Jul 11 at 19:03
  • $\begingroup$ Could you please add a photo? $\endgroup$ Jul 11 at 19:09
  • $\begingroup$ The helicopter is gone now, but if it comes back, I will get a picture of it. This is not the first time we have seen it doing this. I just got an e-mail early this morning from a online neighborhood group in this area asking about this copter. They said they have also seen it flying this low spraying over their homes. $\endgroup$ Jul 11 at 19:30
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    $\begingroup$ Pink one would not be much safer $\endgroup$
    – h22
    Jul 11 at 20:37

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The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has regulatory and safety oversight for Agricultural Operations (Crop dusting, pesticide spraying, etc., from aircraft). Agricultural Operators are required to be certificated by the FAA and their operations are subject to the Federal Aviation Regulations.

The Federal Aviation Regulation that addresses Agricultural Aircraft Operations is 14 CFR Part 137. This LINK is to Section 137.37 of that regulation and states the following:

137.37 Manner of Dispensing

No persons may dispense, or cause to be dispensed, from an aircraft, any material or substance in a manner that creates a hazard to persons or property on the surface.

If you think that this helicopter is spraying pesticides contrary to the regulation noted above, you may want to contact the local "Flight Standards District Office" (known as a FSDO) that is responsible for the area. Since the FSDO has regulatory oversight responsibilities for the Agricultural Operators in their area, this would be a place to seek some assistance.

Your question has many potential variables, so contacting the FSDO and explaining what you are experiencing may be the best method of reaching an answer to your question.

The phone number for the Lincoln, NE FSDO is (402) 475-1738 (from their website). I think Nebraska only has one FSDO.

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  • $\begingroup$ Can you apply to the FAA for an exemption to the altitude rules, e.g. airshows, water bombing etc? $\endgroup$ Jul 12 at 10:46
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    $\begingroup$ @DaveGremlin you can apply to the FAA for a "Certificate of Waiver or Authorization" for certain types of events (like a airshow, for examle). Your local FSDO would have info on the application procedure. Here is a link to some info on that: faa.gov/about/initiatives/airshow $\endgroup$
    – 757toga
    Jul 12 at 14:06
  • $\begingroup$ "137.49: during the actual dispensing operation, including approaches, departures, and turnarounds reasonably necessary for the operation, an aircraft may be operated over other than congested areas below 500 feet above the surface and closer than 500 feet to persons, vessels, vehicles, and structures, if the operations are conducted without creating a hazard to persons or property on the surface." $\endgroup$
    – mins
    Sep 4 at 18:33
  • $\begingroup$ It seems agricultural operations are exempted from part 91 by 137.29c: "The holder of an agricultural aircraft operator certificate may deviate from the provisions of part 91 of this chapter without a certificate of waiver, as authorized in this subpart for dispensing operations" $\endgroup$
    – mins
    Sep 4 at 20:58
  • $\begingroup$ The portion you cite appears to be understood as additional cases of exemption from part 91, not relevant here. For the portion I cited, I understand when 91 and 137 conflict (e.g. for minimum height), then 137 provisions are used in place of 91 provisions. That said, I believe it is fighting a losing battle to demonstrate a substance creates a health hazard after dilution in air, or evaporation, etc, even if obviously such operation is pure irresponsibility. $\endgroup$
    – mins
    Sep 4 at 21:31

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