We are used to seeing tour helicopters and police helicopters in the skies in Las Vegas, but there will be an unfamiliar bird in the skies on Dec. 29 and 31.
The U.S. Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration (DOE/NNSA) will conduct low-altitude helicopter flights over the Las Vegas Strip and its surrounding areas Dec. 29 and 31 to measure naturally occurring background radiation.
The public may see a twin-engine Bell 412 helicopter, which is equipped with radiation sensing technology and is operated by the Nevada National Security Site [nnss.gov]’s Remote Sensing Laboratory Aerial Measuring System at Nellis Air Force Base.
The helicopter will fly in a grid pattern over the areas at 150 feet (or higher) above the ground at a speed of approximately 80 mph. Flyovers will occur only during daylight hours.
The measurement of naturally occurring radiation to establish baseline levels is a normal part of security and emergency preparedness. NNSA conducts these surveys each year in Las Vegas before the city’s New Year’s Eve celebrations and is making the public aware of the upcoming flights so that people who see the low-flying aircraft are not alarmed.