Northeast Nebraska residents should not be alarmed if they see a low-flying helicopter over areas of the Lower Elkhorn Natural Resources District (LENRD) in mid-October.
Beginning this week, instruments mounted below a helicopter will collect and record geologic measurements to learn more about buried sand and gravel aquifers. The LENRD, along with the Eastern Nebraska Water Resources Assessment (ENWRA) the Nebraska Department of Natural Resources (NDNR) and the University of Nebraska Conservation and Survey have planned and sponsored the flights.
According to Katie Cameron, coordinator of ENWRA, the flights “will improve our understanding of the available groundwater resource and potential groundwater/surface water connections in an area of the state made more complex by the presence of glacial deposits.”
Exploration Resources International LLC. (XRI) will oversee the flights, process the data and information, and produce a final report. Cameron added, “This technology allows for fast data acquisition, upwards of 50 miles per hour, with exploration depth down to 900 feet below the land surface from the air.”
The helicopter will fly lines spaced three-miles apart over much of Wayne, Pierce, and Madison Counties and the western edge of Stanton County. The remaining flight lines will be on the order of 12 miles apart and will cover the northern part of eastern Nebraska in the Lewis & Clark, Lower Elkhorn, and Papio-Missouri River NRDs.
Scientific equipment is towed about 100 feet below the helicopter in a ‘spider web’ array and is designed to map geologic structures beneath the earth. The helicopter will be manned by experienced pilots who are specially trained for low-level flying with this equipment (owned by Native American Helicopters llc/SHI is a 100% Native American owned minority certified company). They operate under FAA unlimited part 135 unscheduled air-taxi operations, part 133 a,b,c and d external loads, and part 137 agriculture dispersal.
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 agencies listed above to identify physical occurrences such as changes in geologic materials and sediment types.