Medlink pilots have a lot on their mind .
trying to safely navigate the sky while transporting
the sick and injured to hospital care.
But there's something moving higher and higher on
their list of worries while on the job.
News 8's Madalyn O'Neill tells us how helicopter pilots
now have to keep an eye out for stray drones.
Heath Folkedahl's office has been in the skies for
about eight years.
My office is very neat and I get to travel a lot and
see a lot of things, and it's a rewarding and exciting
As a Medlink pilot ...
Our mission is get our patient the safest, quickest
way possible back to the hospital.
he has a lot to keep track of.
You've got to worry about everything outside the aircraft
as well as inside the aircraft .
all sorts of other things.
But it's not birds .
or other planes .
that's becoming a pressing worry for him and other
The forecast is by the end of this year there's going
to be 600-thousand drones in U.S.
Flying at speeds of up to 140 knots ...
They're so small that we wouldn't see them until they're
right in front of us, and any kind of collision even
with something that small can be catastrophic.
Worst case scenario it would take us out of the sky.
New drone regulations from the F-A-A aim to make sure
all aircraft stay safely in the sky.
If they're following the regulations properly, they're
yielding the skies when we're in the area.
Folkedahl hasn't run into any drones in the airspace
in the La Crosse area yet .
but in more metropolitan areas ...
Nothing extremely close, but close enough where I
saw them and I went a different direction.
It makes him wonder ...
What are you doing up here? .
They definitely shouldn't be anywhere im flying.
Worrying about drones in the air is new territory
but if there's one thing a pilot can do, it's navigate.
Visually, I'm looking for anything and everything
So that doesn't change a ton.
In LaX, MO, N8
The F-A-A released its commercial drone regulations
a few weeks ago.
Drone operators must always keep their drone in sight.
they can't fly higher than 400 feet or faster than
100 miles per hour .
and they still need to be approved to fly within certain
aviation airspaces like around airports.