Warning Issued About Drones at Francis Scott Key Bridge

Wreck at the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore (Photo by: @AvionnaDesh on IG)

If you aren’t in the mood to deal with the Feds and likely get hit with a federal charge, keep your drone away from the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore.

There’s a ‘No Drone Zone’ around the Francis Scott Key Bridge as the recovery, salvage, and investigation efforts continue.

Federal flight restriction

The FAA implemented a Temporary Flight Restriction (TFR) on March 26 after the Francis Scott Key Bridge collapsed.

Calling it a TFR is somewhat misleading, since the FAA has the ending date listed as “permanent.” Nonetheless…

The TFR extends 3 nautical miles in radius from the center of the bridge and from the surface up to and including 1500 feet above ground level.

According to the TFR, only relief aircraft operations under direction of Maryland State Police are authorize in the restricted airspace around the Francis Scott Key Bridge.

Members of the media who have concerns about the TFR are advised to contact FAA Public Affairs via the Washington Operations Center at 202-267-3333.

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Reminder: No drones

Given “multiple drone incursions” at the site recently, state and federal authorities** issued a reminder about the Francis Scott Key Bridge No Drone Zone.

In that notice, authorities said they are actively monitoring and are committed to identifying, investigating, disrupting and prosecuting “the careless or criminal use of drones in the area.”

By “careless or criminal” that seems to suggest if a drone is found in the restricted airspace claiming it was an accident isn’t going to cut it

I know how the media mind works, especially the indie media mind. So, I know some of you will be wondering how serious authorities really are about this.

Is this one of those instances where it’s all bark but there won’t be any real bite to back it up?

My suggestion would be that you heed the warning. I think there’s a real possibility, given the chance, that these folks may try to make an example of somebody.

“The FBI’s message is simple: all drones are to stay away from the site of the Francis Scott Key Bridge collapse. This is to ensure the safety of all first responders and crews in the area as well as to not interfere with their work,” said William J. DelBagno, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Baltimore Field Office. “You will be charged federally if you fly a drone in a restricted area. It is harmful to the recovery operations, and it is illegal.”

In addition to the statement above from DelBagno, U.S. Attorney Erek L. Barron said, “Drone operators need to know that we take seriously any incursion in the restricted airspace around the Francis Scott Key Bridge collapse. Such incursions threaten the safety of those involved in the investigation of the bridge collapse and the recovery of victims. We will investigate and prosecute anyone who violates the ‘no drone zone.”

And think about it, even if authorities don’t take action against you, there’s a real, real possibility that you could lose your drone.

Know Before You Go

Image from Fort McHenry closure notice (Photo by: National Park Service)

If you’re planning to head out to the area to view the bridge or get footage from a nearby location, it’s wise to double-check and make sure you can access the place you’re trying to go. Some sites around the bridge have been shut down, including local parks.

For example, on March 29, Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine and the West Lawn area were closed to allow the Coast Guard to do some assessment work.

Not only did the National Park Service forewarn that closure times could be adjusted to suit the Coast Guard’s needs, but it also left open the possibility of additional closures.

So, know before you go!

** If you’re wondering what agencies were involved in issuing the No Drone Zone reminder, they include: United States Attorney’s Office – District of Maryland, and members of the Unified Command – Maryland State Police (MSP), Maryland Transportation Authority Police, the United States Coast Guard, the Maryland Department of the Environment and the Synergy Marine.


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