A drone in flight at 3D Robotics’ indoor testing area in Chula Vista. Photo by Chris Jennewein

After small drones interfered with firefighters in San Bernardino and San Diego, a national hobby organization is spreading the word about flying safety.

The Academy of Model Aeronautics, a 79-year-old organization with 176,000 members, is promoting safety rules with its “Know Before You Fly” campaign.

In a letter Wednesday to FAA Administrator Michael Huerta and U.S. Forest Service Chief Thomas Tidwell, the organization said it is asking its members in the West to spread the word about safety.

“While our members already know not to fly in and around wildfires, we’ve asked them to help spread the message more broadly,” wrote Bob Brown, president of the organization.

Brown said academy members “know to check for temporary flight restrictions, such as those put in place around wildfires, and to stay well clear of any manned aircraft. Unfortunately, the same is not always true for the legions of new ‘drone’ flyers increasingly taking to the skies.”

A drone temporarily halted air drops during a blaze that closed Interstate 15 in the Cajon Pass last month. More recently in San Diego, a drone interfered with firefighters battling a restaurant fire in Linda Vista.

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Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.