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Mild, radiation frosts occur on still, clear nights, usually with the development of a strong inversion. Cold air accumulates in low spots or in areas where air drainage is blocked. Under these conditions, a few degrees of frost protection may be all that’s needed and it can be provided by flying helicopters.


The helicopter is usually effective for frost protection under the same conditions as those effective for wind machine operation. A warm inversion layer is needed. With the helicopter, the operator has the advantage of being able to choose the level in the inversion where the temperature is most beneficial.

Adding weight to the helicopter by filling water tanks also increases the thrust and hence the protection afforded. In general, a small helicopter can protect 50 to 100 acres under most mild radiation frost conditions. For colder conditions, one helicopter may be needed for each 40 acres.


The area that needs protection should be covered every 30 minutes.


Helicopter protection can be stopped when the sun rises and the air temperature upwind from the protection site has risen above the melting point, 32 F, or, if the plant tissue is wet, when the wet bulb temperature upwind from the orchard is above the critical damage temperature for the crop.

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HeliFlySchool, LLC

1404 Flightline Drive Suite A

Lincoln, CA 95648

Phone: (916) 587 3777