Saturday, December 23, 2017

Sheppard Air Force Base warns against flying drones near base

(SHEPPARD AFB) - Officials with Sheppard Air Force Base want to build up its defense against drones, reminding new users that they can be a flight risk.

Airfield Operations Flight Commander, Captain Hollis Troxel said, "Because the drone can still interfere with aircraft operations, we take it very seriously here in making sure that we keep them at their altitude that they're supposed to be operating at." 

Wichita County Deputy Chief Derrald Choate said the restriction extends beyond flying on base. He added, "Anywhere around Sheppard Air Force Base, you have to stay at least a 5 mile radius away." 

"We do about 240 sorties a day out of here and that's a lot of departing and landing of aircraft and when drones become involved with aircraft," Captain Troxel added, "It can become very dangerous." 

To keep the airspace safe, the FAA also restricts all drones being flown above 400 feet in altitude and if a trespassing drone is deemed a threat, Captain Troxel told us, "Security forces would obviously react, seize the drone and then they would have to work with the local PD as far as what actions to be taken against the pilot of the drone." 

There's also an app for that. Captain Troxel mentioned, "B4UFLY app that's developed by the FAA, actually indicates Sheppard Air Force Base as a no-fly area for drones and we'll tell you based on your location if you are within 5 miles of the airfield and what number to actually contact." 

Sheppard has yet to encounter an unmanned aircraft and officials told us that the Wichita Falls community is to thank. "The community's very helpful. They have a drone park that's down by Lucy Park. A lot of our drone users in the area will actually use that as their base of operation." 

If a drone flies under your Christmas tree, Sheppard officials and area law enforcement hope these tips stop you from becoming a drone intruder.

Lastly, Captain Troxel also said to simply call the base's tower to notify them of where you may be flying a drone, the type of drone you may be flying and how high you will be going.

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