WINDHOEK - Numerous complaints have been filed regarding pilots flying low over nature reserves, farms and residences in recent months, while some vigilant residents tend to point laser lights toward the aircraft in retaliation.
The Ministry of Works and Transport this week released a statement to condemn both practices.
“Complaints are about dangerous ‘low-level beat-ups’, which cause alarm and fear among innocent persons on the ground. Complaints have also been received of animals and birds being terrorised and panicking when aircraft fly low over farms and reserves, culminating in valuable beasts being destroyed.”
Attention was drawn to the fact that air navigation regulations forbid flying lower than 500 feet (152 metres) over persons or property, unless the flight can be undertaken without hazard or nuisance which, according to the statement, “is possible to achieve”.
Areas above national parks stipulate a minimum height of 1000 meters above ground level.
Moreover, flying low is inherently more dangerous than flying at higher altitudes, because such death-defying stunts require particular skills after the relevant training.
The time required to deal with an in-flight emergency is much less than at higher altitudes and the time to avoid unexpected hazards that include masts, wires and birds is also considerably reduced, thus limiting the number of options left to a pilot in an emergency. The Ministry of Works and Transport issued the statement after numerous complaints were received from residents in Sosussvlei, north of Swakopmund and Walvis Bay.
In addition, the ministry also condemned pointing lasers at aircraft since it reduces visual performance and reiterated that maximum penalties would be sought to punish perpetrators.