Helicopter Makes Low-Level Flights Over Columbus Area For NRD Study

Columbus area residents may have noticed an unusual sight in the skies, a low-flying helicopter towing a large hexagonal frame. Officials at the Lower Loup Natural Resources District (LLNRD) say this unique equipment was simply part of a project to map groundwater aquifers and subsurface geology in the district.

AEM helicopter

Beginning in the middle of July, instruments mounted below a helicopter collected and recorded geologic measurements to learn more about buried sand and gravel aquifers.  The LLNRD planned the flights with supplemental sponsorship from the Nebraska Department of Natural Resources (NDNR).

According to Tylr Naprstek, modeling coordinator for the LLNRD, data from the flights will improve understanding of the available groundwater resource and potential groundwater/surface water connections in this area of the state.

Aqua Geo Frameworks, LLC (AGF) oversaw the flights, processed the data and information, and produced a final report. Naprstek stated that this technology allows for fast data acquisition, upwards of 50 miles per hour, with detailed information down to 600 feet below the land surface from the air.

The helicopter flew over the parts of Platte and Nance Counties in the LLNRD, specifically around the Columbus area and along the south side of the Loup River.

Scientific equipment was towed about 100 feet below the helicopter in a ’spider web’ array and was designed to map geologic structures beneath the earth. Naprstek said that the helicopter was manned by experienced pilots who are specially trained for low-level flying with this equipment. The FAA does not allow this type of equipment to be flown over any feeding operation or residence so homes and feedlots were avoided at all costs.

This scientific program is designed to study the area’s water resources such as sand and gravel aquifers using an aerial perspective.  It is part of an ongoing program of the LLNRD to identify physical occurrences such as changes in geologic materials and sediment types. If you have any questions or request additional information, contact Naprstek at the Lower Loup NRD, 308-728-3221 or tnaprstek@llnrd.org.