Drones are some of the most popular new gadgets around, in large part because they enable anyone to explore and capture the most exciting scenes and events. Sometimes those same scenes and events are dangerous, private, or involve controlled air space, and so drones have caught the attention of federal regulators.
One such example was the Hurricane Matthew cleanup operation. Obviously, an effort like that involves hundreds of first responders, vehicles, and more, and requires close coordination among various emergency agencies and civil relief organizations. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), therefore, along with the Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA), wants to let drone pilots know that penalties for interfering with such an effort are severe, as Ars Technica reports.
The AMA issued a statement where it outlined just how serious the FAA is about making sure the airways remain free of random drone traffic, “Any unauthorized drone or model aircraft operations that interfere with disaster relief efforts are subject to civil penalties of up to $32,140 per violation and possible criminal prosecution.” The FAA did not issue specific flight restrictions in the areas hit by Hurricane Matthew, including Florida, and the coasts of Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina, but the major population centers are already largely covered due to existing airport, helipad, and national park restrictions.
Another important example of events were drone pilots should steer clear are the various sporting events around the country. NFL and college football games, the Major League Baseball playoffs, and generally any sporting venue with seating over 30,000 people is off-limits. Such areas are designated as “National Defense Airspace,” and drones are not permitted to fly within three nautical miles of such sites.
If you are a drone pilot, then, you will want to use some common sense as to where you fly, as well as making sure that you are well aware of the regular and special restrictions imposed by the FAA. Shelling out over $32,000 and facing potential jail time simply does not seem worth the possibility of catching an interesting video clip to post on YouTube.