Low-flying planes part of science survey

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COEUR d'ALENE - It won't be chem trails; it's not a conspiracy.

At least that's what government agencies are sayin.'

In accordance with Federal Aviation Administration regulations, the U.S. Geological Survey science organization will be conducting low-level flying missions around Spokane and western Idaho.

The airborne project will buzz rooftops over a 1,000-square-mile area centered over Coeur d'Alene's western neighbor, the Lilac City, for about one month starting Saturday, the USGS announced.

"Anyone observing the low-flying plane should not be alarmed if they see it fly over or pass below the horizon," a press release from the organization states. "The airplane is operated by experienced pilots who are specially trained for low-level flying."

So, heads up.

The survey project is designed to measure the magnetic field of the Earth, which is related to geologic and hydrologic units that lie below the land surface, the press release states. It is part of an ongoing USGS program to identify hidden geologic features, such as changes in rock types, ultimately providing a better understanding of the geology and hydrology of the area. For example, the survey may help map shallow faults responsible for a sequence of small earthquakes that occurred during the summer and fall of 2001 inside Spokane city limits.

The airplane is operated by EDCON-PRJ of Lakewood, Colo., which is working with the FAA to ensure flights are safe and in accordance with U.S. law.

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