VIRGINIA BEACH — One day this past month, service members at Naval Air Station Oceana spotted two different drones flying at the facility without authorization to do so.
In addition to posing a hazard to U.S. Navy pilots operating at the base, there can be legal ramifications for an operator of an unmanned aircraft system.
But the danger drones pose in airspace is a chief concern for the Navy in and around Oceana and also at Naval Auxiliary Landing Field Fentress in nearby Chesapeake.
U.S. Navy Capt. Rich Meadows, the air station’s commanding officer, said in a statement released to the media that use of unauthorized drones above or near the installation has the potential to cause significant damages – even tragedy for aircrews and other citizens.
“The distraction of a drone could have disastrous consequences,” Meadows said. “If a drone actually collides with a plane, the result could be catastrophic for the pilot and the local community.”
The airbase reported that two incidents on Thursday, Oct. 19. That morning, personnel on the flight line saw a white quad-copter flying near aircraft hangers.
A few hours later, an F/A-18 Hornet pilot who was in flight reported seeing a black quad-copter in the air station’s landing pattern.
Use of either recreational or commercial drones within five miles of the air station or within two miles of the landing field at Fentress is prohibited unless Federal Aviation Administration requirements are met, according to the statement.
Information on safe drone operations is available via faa.gov/uas/where_to_fly/no_drone_zone. It includes digital tools and downloads.
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