Last week, a National Park Service helicopter returning to the helibase at Ash Mountain was struck by an inanimate metal object (IMO) while flying at 2,000 feet. Due to the noise on-board a helicopter, crew members could not be certain what, if anything, they heard during impact.
There was no sighting of anything unusual during the flight. The part of the helicopter that sustained the damage was not visible to the pilot or crew while airborne.
But any impact with an object during a flight is cause for concern and can cripple the aircraft. It’s highly probable that the impact wasn’t caused by spacecraft or a piece of space junk. It more likely originated from Earth and possibly a human, and could have been a drone, amateur rocket, or some other projectile that should not have been in the helicopter’s air space.
National park guidelines say that all types of aircraft are banned from parks “other than at locations designated pursuant to special regulations.” Drones are prohibited because their presence can be disturbing, not only to people trying to peacefully enjoy the parks, but also to wildlife, while also interfering with National Park Service aircraft on official business.