Video and Narrative Underscore Tower Marking's Effectiveness
NAAA is making available video showing the challenge low-level agricultural pilots have in seeing unmarked towers and the difference in visibility if those towers are marked and lighted. The video, shown below and also available here, was provided to NAAA with permission by Roger Dreyer and Karen Allen. Karen Allen is the widow of Steve Allen, whose life was taken in 2011 after he collided with an unmarked Meteorological Evaluation Tower (MET) in Northern California. She filed a wrongful death suit against a group of defendants representing tower manufacturing, wind energy, land-owning and farming interests for not marking or making aware the location of the unmarked MET to protect her husband. That lawsuit was settled in September 2014 for $6.7 million. Roger Dreyer was the attorney in that case and has also provided a descriptive narrative to the video in the form of a letter to NAAA Executive Director Andrew Moore.
These tools—the video and accompanying letter providing video narrative—are excellent visual examples demonstrating the difference in visibility between the MET tower without any type of strobe light or hazard markings and those that are equipped with strobe lights as well as the hazard marking. This visibility study underscores the importance of these METs being marked and lighted and, as such, makes a good case for aerial applicators nationwide to push marking either with local zoning authorities, tower company erectors, wind energy companies, farmers, landowners or state legislatures. To date, there are 12 states in the nation with tower marking laws. NAAA will be utilizing these tools when it once again makes its case this year for federal marking rules for towers to protect agricultural aviators as the Congress takes up a five-year FAA Reauthorization Bill.