How To Safely Fly Yellowstone and Jackson Hole

I'm Nick herring I'm a park ranger with

the National Park Service I live in

close to Gardner Montana which is where

my airplane is based and I wanted to

just talk to you a little bit about

flying over the park today the park is

is a fantastic resource for from a pilot

perspective it's as close to what you'd

find in Alaska in the lower 48 states

with that of course comes a lot of

different challenges as a pilot the

terrain a lot of our East boundary in

our North boundary are extreme rugged

mountainous terrain you've really got to

pay attention to wind down drafts the

southern part of the park is a heavily

forested part of the park so you don't

have a lot of options if you have engine

problems so you know you've really got

to pay attention to what you're doing

and you also need to be very prepared in

your aircraft you know carry a good

survival kit first aid kit make sure

you've got a good flight plan it's it's

certainly doable but you have to put a

little thought to flying over this

remote country Yellowstone is a

tremendously diverse place to fly you

all stone lake is a very large body of

water on the southern end of the park

gorgeous absolutely gorgeous country not

to mention all the thermal basins which

are located all over the park some of

them are quite spectacular from the air

one of the most probably well-known is a

grand prismatic spring in the Old

Faithful area it's been on the cover of

National Geographic many times and it

looks just as gorgeous as it does on the

cover of National Geographic I was

fortunate to have learned how to fly at

a high altitude airport and have flown

at sea level as well and the difference

is dramatic and where I see pilots get

into trouble as they'll fly into an

airport like West Yellowstone like this

they'd come from a lower elevation

they'll top off with fuel they've got

full passengers and it's an 85 to 90

degree day that's a recipe for a

disaster here I think that all of us are

hammered about keeping those fuel tanks

full this is the case where you might

not want it full you want to plan that

fuel and and your load calculations so

that you've got some some room for error

because the high altitude is just until

you've experienced it you really don't

understand how your aircraft functions

at a high altitude I think it's really

important for pilots to just be

sensitive about their flying in a

national park it's obviously a protected

area you know the charts recommend the

2,000 foot minimum flight level and I

think if you pay attention to not

buzzing developed areas where we have

large concentrations of visitors I think

that shows a level of sensitivity that

will probably help everybody involved my

name is Rick Smith I'm the Air Traffic

Manager the Jackson Hole control tower

first and foremost understand that we're

contained within a national park

so before pilot comes into this area

they need to familiarize themselves with

the federal air regulations concerning

flight in the national park as far as

altitude restrictions what you're used

to it most places doesn't really apply

here for weather and that's because of

the mountains we have a very simple

philosophy here as far as air traffic

control at Jackson Hole our goal is to

ensure that they receive the most

courteous the most professional and the

safest air traffic control service they

can get anywhere in the country