Wednesday, March 10, 2021

Flights halted, diverted after drone spotted at Piedmont Triad International Airport (KGSO); FAA, FBI, police launch investigation

GREENSBORO, North Carolina —  The Federal Aviation Administration is working with local law enforcement to investigate after a drone disrupted flights from the Piedmont Triad International Airport Tuesday night.

A drone was spotted flying over and around the airport at about 9:15 p.m, according to PTI Airport.

The FBI believes the drone was launched near the area of Market Street and Regional Road, but said the drone was seen over several locations near the airport.

Air traffic controllers remained in constant communication with local officials as they searched for the drone operator, the FAA said. Controllers switched runways and periodically suspended flights while the drone was in the area. Flights were also held on the ground and one flight headed to Greensboro was diverted to another airport.

PTI said air traffic resumed normal operations at about 11:30 p.m.

Flying an unmanned vehicle near an airport or flying in any way that interferes with a manned aircraft is a federal crime punishable by a felony that may include fines or imprisonment.

The FBI is leading the investigation, which also includes TSA and FAA, at this time. Anyone with information about this investigation is asked to call 704-672-6100.


GREENSBORO, North Carolina — A drone suspended operations at Piedmont Triad International Airport Tuesday night.

The airport authority told FOX8 the low-flying drone was spotted over and around the airport.

PTI Executive Director Kevin Baker says this is the first time something like this has happened.

Not only does it disrupt operations but it also puts pilots and passengers in danger. Flying drones over the airport is a federal crime.

“One of these things running into an aircraft is not something that we want to have happen,” Baker said.

Damaging a wing, puncturing a window or shattering a propeller — all possibilities of what could happen if a drone gets too close to a plane.

“This creates a situation that’s very dangerous,” Baker said. “I really urge people to be careful with drones and to make sure that they get educated about the rules and the laws that are associated with flying.”

The drone circling and at one point hovering over an airport runway diverted one flight looking to land in Greensboro and grounded several others.

A Federal Aviation Administration spokesperson said air traffic controllers switched runways to avoid coming into contact with the drone.

“Civil penalties for something like this could be huge because any person who was harmed and when I say harmed, I mean in the legal way, if they were impacted by this, they were delayed, if they’re an airline having to spend more money on fuel because they’re in a holding pattern for an hour, even if someone is shipping something on an airplane and that package arrives late, every single one of those individuals might have a claim against this individual,” Baker said.

The drone disappeared around 11:30 Tuesday night two and a half hours after it was first spotted. The drone pilot has not been located. The FBI is now taking over the investigation along with airport police, TSA and the FAA.

It’s illegal to fly a drone near or over an airport because they’re difficult for pilots to see. People caught doing it can face fines and time in jail. Anyone with information on the drone can call the FBI at 704-672-6100.


  1. I'm sure that there is some video of the drone ... even though it was flying at night, otherwise, how could it have been spotted? According to the above story, the "drone" loitered in the area for 2-1/2 hours. I'm unaware on any commercially available "drone" that has that kind of endurance.

    I do agree that reckless operations of "drones" is a problem, especially near airports; however, I'm often skeptical of reports such as this one.

    1. The 11:30 "disappeared" time was the all clear. Sloppy reporting.

      From another source (link below):
      "PTI said air traffic resumed normal operations at about 11:30 p.m.

      Cheap drones are like laser pointers. Misuse is difficult to stop.