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No drone zone at MacDill

Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (sUAS) or drone flying is prohibited at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida. Per the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), drones can’t be flown within a 5-mile radius of military airfields or commercial airports. The FAA and Department of Defense (DOD) instituted the ban on sUAS, or drones, in response to the rising popularity of private sUAS and the possible security risk they pose, along with the potential physical danger to aircraft from hitting a drone during take-off or landing. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Ryan Lackey)

Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (sUAS) or drone flying is prohibited at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida. Per the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), drones can’t be flown within a 5-mile radius of military airfields or commercial airports. The FAA and Department of Defense (DOD) instituted the ban on sUAS, or drones, in response to the rising popularity of private sUAS and the possible security risk they pose, along with the potential physical danger to aircraft from hitting a drone during take-off or landing. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Ryan Lackey)

MACDILL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. --

Commercial, off-the-shelf remotely piloted aircraft, or drones, continue to be an item of interest for gift-giving during the holiday season.

As a result, a policy has been established to ensure the public is aware of Federal Aviation Administration and Department of Defense regulations regarding the safety and security of resources and personnel on military installations.

“Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems or drone flying is prohibited at MacDill Air Force Base,” said Air Force Staff Sgt. Heather Dixon, sUAS program manager assigned to the 6th Security Forces Squadron. “Drone enthusiasts are reminded that, per the Federal Aviation Administration, drones can’t be flown within a 5-mile radius of military airfields or commercial airports.”

Further, according to the FAA, all drones are aircraft—even the ones bought at the toy store. What that means is operators of a drone have the same responsibilities as a pilot of a passenger airplane.

“The safety and security of the mission and individuals vital to the mission is crucial to the completion of our objectives, and a clear airspace is a key component of that safety,” said Dixon. “The Air Force will take all necessary actions to ensure the safety of our Airmen and installations.”

The standard radius of controlled airspace around an airport is 5 miles. Anyone operating a drone within this radius is required to have a Remote Pilot Certification and prior authorization from the FAA.

Any personnel found to be operating Unmanned Aerial Systems in this manner may be subject to law enforcement action.

The ban of drones over military bases comes from (14 CFR) § 99.7 – “Special Security Instructions” and 10 U.S. Code §130i. “Protection of certain facilities and assets from unmanned aircraft.”

“It’s critical to MacDill’s installation security and flying operations that we maintain a safe and uninterrupted airspace by enforcing the drone ban on MacDill Air Force base,” said Link Collier, MacDill’s airfield manager assigned to the 6th Operations Support Squadron. “We encourage recreational drone owners to educate themselves on local drone policies and regulations in their area and to use them responsibly.”

An article and mobile app, which shows where drone flight is permitted and other useful information is available here: https://www.faa.gov/uas/recreational_fliers/where_can_i_fly/b4ufly/

Information about Airspace Restrictions is available here: https://www.faa.gov/uas/recreational_fliers/where_can_i_fly/airspace_restrictions/

People who witness drones or drone operators in violation of the rule should contact the MacDill AFB Base Defense Operations Center at (813) 828-3322.