It would be classified as a near miss. A drone was flying perilously close to a Sanford Health Air Transport helicopter earlier this week.

Lead Safety Officer Josh Weiland shared with KSOO News what the team experienced during approach into Sioux Falls.

“At approximately 700 feet above the ground, our medic in the back of the aircraft spotted what appeared to be a quad-copter drone approximately 50 feet below the aircraft. At that point, the aircraft moving at about 150 miles per hour did not require any (evasive) action required by the pilot. It was (classified) as a sighting by the team on board the aircraft.”

Granted there is more room in the sky as opposed to the ground, but Weiland said rules are in place to protect those down below and at altitude.

“I think of that as a safety margin. We have these drones that are operating at lower altitude which is fun. Then above that, you have other operators. It’s not just air-medical operators. We have a regional airport and the Air National Guard. It’s a busy airport with lots of traffic.”

Weiland can see the other side of it as he has a drone of his own, but for practical purposes most times any picture taken from above 400 feet is too high to get an accurate image.

Overall Weiland wants to use this incident to be proactive about stressing drone safety before an actual collision occurs.


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