The National Park Service (NPS) Aviation Program is unique, challenging, and the most complex of all aviation programs within the Department of the Interior. High-risk activities are routinely performed in diverse terrain and environmental conditions. The program’s highly skilled pilots and personnel use aircraft and equipment to perform aviation functions critical to accomplishing the NPS mission, including law enforcement activities, search and rescue, firefighting, medical evacuations, natural and cultural resource management activities, and cargo and personnel transport.
What We Do
The NPS Aviation Program is responsible for developing servicewide policy related to aviation operational procedures, equipment, personnel qualifications, and safety standards for the Service.
Protecting the people and the parks. Read about how aviation is used in search and rescue and other functions within the parks.
Fire management in our national parks combines fire operations, prescribed fire, and fire ecology to maintain fire in the natural ecosystems. Find out about aviation’s role in fire monitoring, management, personnel transport, and research.
Aviation use in most national parks is strictly regulated. The concerns for aircraft noise and visual intrusion notwithstanding, sometimes the use of aircraft in these sensitive areas is necessary to prevent a larger and long-term impact to NPS resources.
Nearly 40 percent of NPS aircraft use supports natural resource management. Learn about how aviation is used in resource and wildlife management, research, and monitoring.
Aircraft are another means of transportation used as cars, boats, ATVs, and snowmobiles are in fire, search and rescue, law enforcement, maintenance, and other operations within the parks. Learn more.
Learn more about administrative uses of unmanned aircraft in the national parks as well as about the current prohibition on public use.
Commissioned law enforcement officers with the National Park Service perform resource stewardship, education, and visitor use management activities. NPS law enforcement staff often work in dangerous situations in harsh environmental conditions. Read about how aviation comes into play in NPS law enforcement work.
Last updated: July 19, 2016