Operation SAFE (Self-regulating Application & Flight Efficiency), developed in 1981, was designed to clearly demonstrate that ag aviation recognizes its responsibility to minimize the potential for adverse health and environmental effects of agricultural chemical application.


Connect pilots and operators with trained and vetted professional analysts, providing not only education, but the opportunity to measure and assess application efficacy and mitigate drift.

Means to Achieve the Objective

Operation SAFE consists of a comprehensive program of education and  professional analysis of application. The backbone of Operation SAFE is the Professional Application Analysis Clinic (Fly-In). Participating at a Fly-In involves the standardized measurement of collected samples from test passes made by an aircraft. These measurements provide relative deposition and (for liquid applications) droplet size. NAAREF-recognized Operation SAFE Analysts, including USDA and University scientists, industry experts and operators are trained to interpret these measurements and provide the pilot or operator with recommendations for equipment adjustment (if needed) and projected in-field performance.

Preparing for a Fly-In

Plan to arrive at the fly-in with a fully cleaned aircraft and spray system. Flow check all nozzles and fix any leaks. Plan to bring spare spray system parts (nozzles, check valves, J-tubes, etc.) in case they are needed. It is also advised to bring 50-100 gallons of water, if  able.

Be prepared to provide the details of your aircraft and spray system configuration. It is encouraged for you to pre-fill the Operation SAFE Aircraft Information Form and bring it with you.

Attending a Fly-In

When you arrive, check in with the analysis center to receive a safety and protocol briefing and fill out your Aircraft Information Form. You will be provided with tracer dye to mix in the hopper, and be informed of the order in which attending aircraft will be tested.

Making the Test Passes

When it is your turn to test, takeoff and be vigilant of traffic. In an area downwind of the flight line (test-area), purge your booms by spraying until dye is visibly coming out of the most outboard nozzles. 

When signaled by the ground crew (via radio or flags), approach the flight line by aligning your flight path with the marked centerline (typically 3 white bags on posts). Descend to your desired application height and turn on the spray system 300-400 feet before the flight line. Maintain level flight, minimizing control movements until you are at least 300 feet past the flight line. Then, turn off the spray system and smoothly climb back into a holding pattern. 

The ground crew will signal you when they are ready for another pass. A total of 3 passes will typically be made before you land.

Analyzing the Results

Once back on the ground, await the processing of your collected data in the analysis center. The Operation SAFE Analyst will review your processed results and discuss them with you. A report will be provided, showing both a pattern analysis and a droplet spectrum analysis. The pattern analysis shows deposition across the swath as well as effective swath width and projected in-field uniformity. The droplet spectrum analysis shows in-swath spray quality via computed droplet spectrum categories (Medium, Coarse, etc.).

If you and the analyst agree on making adjustments, or if you desire to test other rates/configurations, another set of test passes may be made.

Operation SAFE is administered by NAAREF, who recommends having your aircraft evaluated every 2 years or after major changes are made to the application system.  Some key benefits from participating are:

  • Measurement and characterization of application pattern
  • Determination of optimum effective swath width
  • Documentation of expected application performance

Any licensed operator or aerial applicator is encouraged to participate in Operation SAFE. As an added benefit for participating NAAA members, an Operation SAFE Emblem (sticker to affix to aircraft) may be obtained to show others your commitment to making an accurate application.

In addition to several consultants, many State and Regional Agricultural Aviation Associations regularly host Operation SAFE Clinics. There are also options for conducting your own pattern testing and consulting with a NAAREF-recognized Analyst. See Analysts below.

Analysts submit participant logs from Operation SAFE to NAAA. If you participate as an NAAA member, you can obtain a Participation Letter to provide your customers, insurer, etc. It is a PDF with a unique ID showing the date, location, business and aircraft registration(s) for participating aircraft. Letters for 2021-Present can be found in your Transcript in the NAAA Education center (see link below). Letters for 2020 and earlier are available upon request.

NAAREF recognizes Operation SAFE Analysts as trained professionals in conducting aircraft pattern testing. They are not only proficient with operating the needed equipment to conduct the fly-in, but also experienced in interpreting and analyzing the collected data to formulate recommendations. It is the Analyst who consults with the applicator and ultimately verifies their participation in Operation SAFE to NAAA.

Analysts – United States

AnalystCompanyStateEmailRenewal Due
Scott BretthauerNAAAILsbrethauer@agaviation.org2025
Kim Pope-BrownLouisiana Ag Aviation AssociationLApopekim36@gmail.com2025
Mike CampbellCampbell Aviation Inc.MTeccampbell@yahoo.com2024
Robert ChingDropFlightMIrobert@dropflightag.com2026
Alan CorrAgri-Spray Consulting LLCNEalan@agrisprayconsulting.com2026
Carson CorrAgri-Spray Consulting LLCNEcarson@agrisprayconsulting.com2026
Corey FransenJBI Helicopter ServicesNHcorey.fransen@jbihelicopters.com2025
Brad FritzUSDA-ARSTXbrad.fritz@usda.gov2026
Dennis GardisserWRK of Arkansas LLCARdgardisser@wrkofar.com2026
John Garr IIGarrCo Products IncINmrfoam@garrco.com2025
Matt GillNAAAILmgill@agaviation.org2026
John HillMIjsjjj@charter.net2026
Matt HovdenesRight Way AgNDrightwayag@outlook.com2026
Madison KrahlTransland LLDTXmkrahl@translandllc.com2025
Dan MartinUSDA-ARSTXdaniel.martin@ars.usda.gov2025
Ruben NietoTransland LLCTXrnieto@translandllc.com2025
Randy PriceLouisiana State UniversityLArprice@agcenter.lsu.edu2026
Tim ShamblinAero Applications Inc.IDtimshamblin@gmail.com2027
Eric VestWRK of Arkansas LLCARvestro91@yahoo.com2026
Jill VestWRK of Arkansas LLCARrnqtee75@yahoo.com2025
Destiny WestPerfect FlightCOdestinywest045@gmail.com2025
Richard WhitneyWRK of OklahomaOKwhitney3451@att.net2026
Jim WilsonSouth Dakota State UniversitySDjrwltd@itctel.com2024
Anthonie YorkAir TractorTXayork@airtractor.com2026
Table Updated on 7 Mar 2024

Analysts – International

AnalystCompanyCountryEmailRenewal Due
Michael BannermanForest PatrolCanadabannerman.michael@jdirving.com2025
Josue BarerraAgrocentroGuatemalajosue.barrera@agrocentro.com2026
Andrew BrownForest PatrolCanadaandrewbrown@live.ca2025
Henrique CamposSao Paulo State UniversityBrazilhenrique@sabri.com.br2026
Allan DenesowychYorktown Aircraft Service Ltd.Canadayorktonaircraft@sasktel.net2024
Cheryl DenesowychYorktown Aircraft Service Ltd.Canadayorktonaircraft@sasktel.net2024
John DornianSkyway AviationCanadajdornian@hotmail.com2025
Walter DyckJonair (1988) Ltd.Canadawaldyck@gmail.com2025
Richard FriesenWestern Canadian Aerial Ltd.Canadaexiraaero@outlook.com2027
David FrischJonair Ltd.Canadadave@jonair.com2025
Rudy GerzenSoutheast AirCanadargerzen478@gmail.com2025
Rylan HiebertPortage Aircraft MaintenanceCanadafastford150@hotmail.com2025
Paul HubbardGranular ProductsAustraliapaul@granularproducts.com2025
Reeve HubbardDrone AgricultureAustraliareeve@droneagriculture.com.au2025
Johan JancenWestern Canadian Aerial Ltd.Canadajohaniliana1995@gmail.com2027
Scott KianskySoutheast AirCanadakianskys@gmail.com2025
Shaun KinniburghKinniburgh Spray Service LtdCanadashaun@kinniburghspray.com2027
Chris LambertWestern Canadian Aerial Ltd.Canadachris@wcaerial.com2027
Corey LangeWetaskiwin Aerial Applicators Ltd.Canadawaacorey@gmail.com2026
John LeppRivers AirsprayCanadajohnleppfarms@gmail.com2025
Chad MoffatSpecialized Spray SystemsCanadaspecializedspray@gmail.com2026
James PottageProvincial AirwaysCanadajames@provincialairways.net2027
Ken ProdenJonair (1988) Ltd.Canadakennyproden@gmail.com2025
Clayton RempelClayton Air Service Ltd.Canadaclaytonairsk@gmail.com2026
Lowell RitcheyFairfield Services Ltd.Canadalowell65@telus.net2025
David RoyWestern Canadian Aerial Ltd.Canadadroy1981@hotmail.com2027
Brett RubbertBretts A ServiceCanadabrubbert@hotmail.com2025
Markus SeitterWestern Canadian Aerial Ltd.Canadachiefpilot@wcaerial.com2027
Tyler ThallHanley HeliCanadatyler@hanleyheliservice.ca2025
Ian TorrieArty’s AirCanadamaintenance@artysair.com2027
Nicolas VerraultSPOFIMCanadan.verreault@sopfim.qc.ca2025
Reiss WiklundJonair Ltd.Canadareiss@jonair.com2025
Leonel YaeggyDuwestGuatemalaleonel.yaeggy@duwest.com2025
Ian YaholnitskyMiccar AerialCanadaian@miccaraerial.com2025
Table Updated on 10 May 2024

To aid the Analyst in conducting the fly-in, NAAREF recognizes Operation SAFE Technicians as individuals proficient with operating the needed equipment to conduct the fly-in. Technicians may assist in all aspects of the fly-in, except for making aircraft setup recommendations.

Technicians – United States

AnalystCompanyStateEmailRenewal Due
Gwen CorrAgri-Spray Consulting LLCNEgwen@agrisprayconslting.com2025
Megan CorrAgri-Spray Consulting LLCNEmegan@agrisprayconsulting.com2026
Table Updated on 3 Jan 2024

Technicians – International

AnalystCompanyCountryEmailRenewal Due
Dan BallardWestern Canadian Aerial Ltd.Canadadaniel_ballard8@hotmail.com2027
Corey FroeseWestern Canadian Aerial Ltd.Canadacoreyfroese.1995@yahoo.com2027
Dean KozakWestern Canadian Aerial Ltd.Canadadeankozak@gmail.com2027
Justin McKenzieWestern Canadian Aerial Ltd.Canadajustin@wcaerial.com2027
Colin PaulWestern Canadian Aerial Ltd.Canadacolin@wcaerial.com2027
Lucas VandercampWestern Canadian Aerial Ltd.Canadalucasvdk152@gmail.com2027
Nick ZoppaWestern Canadian Aerial Ltd.Canadanick@wcaerial.com2027
Table Updated on 30 Jan 2024

NAAREF approves Analysts and Technicians for a period of 3 calendar years. The requirements for initial approval and renewal are listed below. While not explicitly listed as a requirement, it is also expected that Analysts and Technicians will perform their duties with great professionalism as ambassadors of NAAREF. It is also expected that they will maintain currency in this field through literature and professional interaction. NAAA Membership is required.

Initial Approval

NAAREF may approve qualified NAAA members to become Operation SAFE Analysts or Technicians based on recommendation by either (1) or (2) below:

  1. Attend a NAAREF-approved Analyst/Technician training course, where, upon successful completion, a recommendation will be submitted to NAAREF.
  2. An existing Analyst may recommend (in writing) individuals that possess the knowledge and skills to serve as an Analyst or Technician to NAAREF.

Initial approval will end on the 31st day of December of the third year from the date of initial approval and may be renewed every three years by meeting the renewal requirements.


Analysts and Technicians may renew their approval by providing written documentation to NAAREF of completion of (1) and (2) during the 3 year period following your most recent approval/renewal, but before the expiration of that approval/renewal:

  1. Certify attendance at a minimum of three of any combination of the following professional development meetings:
    • NAAA Conventions
    • PAASS Programs
    • State/Regional AAA Conventions
    • ASAE/ASTM Pesticide Application Meetings
    • Conduct or materially assist in conducting at least two fly-ins, and make at least 5 calibrations
  2. Conduct or materially assist in conducting at least two fly-ins, and make at least 5 calibrations

An iPhone/iPad app that allows extremely fast scanning and analysis of water-sensitive spray cards, all on your Apple mobile devices. This tool, created in part by an aerial applicator, is targeted specifically for aerial applicators to use in assessing spray pattern uniformity, effective swath width and droplet size across the swath.

Portable onsite swath sampling and processing system that analyzes the full spray swath. Using inexpensive calculator paper rolls and dye as a collector, The Swath Gobbler™ system quickly and precisely reads spray data and provides actionable outputs. Swath Gobbler™ gives you the research-quality data you need to be the best in your field.  ​

Desktop (MacOS/Windows) software to conduct Operation SAFE Fly-Ins. For traditional string/card combination or standalone card-only testing. Designed to be used by Applicators and Operation SAFE Analysts alike. ​

Fillable SAFE Aircraft Information Form

This form may be printed and filled out prior to attending an Operation SAFE Fly-In. This will ensure expedient and accurate input and processing of your aircraft data. This form may also be utilized by individuals conducting their own spray pattern testing and working with a remote analyst for the same purpose.

Remote-Analyst Fly-In Protocol

A generalized guide for aerial applicators to conduct their own spray pattern testing without an on-site Operation SAFE Analyst. Collected test samples can be processed by an applicator or mailed to an Analyst for processing.

Fillable SAFE Log

This is an Excel file template for reporting Operation SAFE Participation to NAAA/NAAREF, when software generated logs are not available. Note that credit will only be granted for submissions by a current Operation SAFE Analyst.