Fly your drone within 35 miles of Houston's NRG Stadium on Sunday and you'll probably end up losing your bird, missing the game, and paying a fine.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) isn’t messing around when it comes to drone flights at Sunday’s Super Bowl.
Not only is it banning flights over Houston’s NRG Stadium during the big game, it’s also warning drone owners to keep their flying machines grounded for up to 34.5 miles away.
The strict rules will be in effect from 4 p.m. to 11:59 p.m. local time (CT) on Sunday, the FAA confirmed in a notice posted on its website this week.
The rules are for safety reasons — the agency charged with keeping U.S. skies safe doesn’t want to risk any of the unmanned flying machines dropping unceremoniously from the sky and landing on a fan’s head — and for security reasons, too, though presumably any drone-owning ne’er-do-wells won’t be too bothered about official notices ordering them not to fly.
A short video (above) highlighting the restriction implores fans to “bring your lucky jersey, bring your face paint, bring your team spirit … but leave your drone at home, and make the game safe for everyone.”
It’s not clear what measures the agency has in place for taking down rogue drones, though plenty of companies have been developing solutions, from anti-drone guns to highly trained eagles. Last year it warned anyone who fancied risking a Super Bowl flight that it would use “deadly force” to take it out. However, such dramatic language is absent from this year’s message.
“Drones are becoming much more popular, but they also pose certain safety risks,” said FAA administrator Michael Huerta. “We’re working closely with our safety and security partners to spread the No Drone Zone message as widely as possible.”
The FAA has been issuing similar drone bans for the Super Bowl for several years in response to the growing popularity of the remotely controlled flying machines.
Super Bowl LI, between the New England Patriots and the Atlanta Falcons, gets underway on Sunday, February 5 at 6.30 p.m. ET.