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Offutt remains a No Drone Zone

  • Published
  • By Charles J. Haymond
  • 55th Wing Public Affairs

As the popularity of small, unmanned aircraft systems or drones, continues to grow, Offutt Air Force Base remains a no drone zone.

Charged with ensuring Offutt’s air space remains free of drones is part of the 55th Security Forces Squadron’s overall mission of protecting the installation’s personnel, facilities, and assets.

“The safety of Offutt personnel and community is a top concern for us,” said Tech. Sgt. Lee Borytsky, 55th SFS NCO in-charge of innovations and technologies. “Any hobby, recreational or personal sUAS use is strictly prohibited across all Offutt property, to include the main base, off-base military family housing areas, Capehart Chapel, Ehrling Bergquist Clinic and the Base Lake.”

The Federal Aviation Administration has outlawed sUAS operations over airports and security sensitive airspace. They also have limits on operations in surrounding areas and penalties can be severe.

“The zero-foot altitude area is determined by the FAA, not solely Offutt,” Borytsky said, “and we have the capability through numerous means to detect and capture drone information while also being able to down the drone, if necessary.”

The penalties for flying sUAS in a no drone zone can range from a fine from the FAA to the loss of the operator’s license and confiscation of the drone.  “If a drone is turned on, we are going to detect it and we’ll dispatch law enforcement to that location,” said Lt. Col. Andrew Ferguson, 55th Security Forces Squadron commander.

“There are ways to get approval if you want to go through the proper procedures and follow Department of Defense regulations and FAA requirements,” Borytsky said.   

A drone flying in this prohibited air space could hinder Offutt’s aircrafts from executing their no-fail worldwide nuclear, command, control and communications mission. 

“Unauthorized drones operating over the base pose a threat to our aircraft as they can inadvertently strike an aircraft, “said Senior Master Sgt. Daniel Sluss, 55th Operations Support Squadron tower chief controller. “We also must think about operations security, a lot of commercial off the shelf drones are equipped with high resolution recording equipment.”   

Therefore, 55th Security Forces members are taking a proactive approach to provide Team Offutt members with the necessary information to prevent illegal and dangerous drone operations.

“Information is power, disseminating the rules and requirements along with the resources for people to read on the topic is a major focus for us,” Borytsky said.

Individuals who desire to fly drones need to use the FAA website to find the specific locations to operate them and apply for the proper paperwork.

For personnel who need to fly a drone near the installation, please contact the 55th SFS innovations and technologies office at 55SFS.S5.Technology@us.af.mil.

All Team Offutt members who see a drone flying on or near base should report the sighting to the Emergency Communications Center at (402) 294-4245.

For more information on the FAA regulations visit this link: https://www.faa.gov/uas/recreational_fliers/where_can_i_fly/airspace_restrictions/