The aviation branch of Big Cypress has been in operation since the establishment of the Preserve in 1974. Aviation operations are conducted year-round and are based out of the Oasis Airfield.The Preserve has two fleet owned aircraft, a fixed wing Cessna 182 and a Bell Jet Ranger helicopter. These aviation assets offer the least impact and least invasive means of access to conduct research, fire and resource management, law enforcement, and search and rescue activities.
To ensure the safe and efficient operation of these aviation resources, there is a full time aviation staff based out of Oasis. The staff consists of a National Park Service fleet pilot, aviation operations manager, an assistant manager, lead helitack and an aviation air crewmember.
Just as the airfield at Oasis Visitor Center that has seen many changes and updates over the years, so too has the aviation program at Big Cypress. Most recently, the Fire and Aviation Division has begun the process of combining the aviation programs of Everglades National Park and Big Cypress National Preserve. By joining the two aviation crews, we believe it will provide a more cost effective operation and help offset staffing shortages impacting both aviation programs. We are expecting to be able to support the aviation users of not only Everglades and Big Cypress, but those of the South Florida Caribbean Network, the Exotic Plant Management Team, Dry Tortugas and Biscayne National Parks. The base of operations for these flights will be out of the Oasis Visitor Center. The operation will be referred to as the South Florida Aviation Program. We expect to add another aircraft to the existing fleet to help resource management, fire management and resource protection.
These recent changes are still in their developmental phase but will be implemented in the near future.The South Florida Aviation Program's main objective is to ensure the safe and efficient operation of the aviation assets, while minimizing any negative impacts to the environment and those visiting and enjoying the South Florida ecosystem of the Big Cypress Watershed.