Drone Operations near the Super Bowl LV could lead to substantial fines from the FAA. Many novice and hobbyist Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) or “drone” operators may be in for a big shock if caught operating a drone in defiance of the FAA’s Temporary Flight Restriction (TFR) during the Super Bowl LV. On February 7, 2021, from 5:30 p.m. to 11:59 EST, the FAA will prohibit the use of drones within a 30-nautical-mile radius of the Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida. The restriction will extend from surface level up to 18,000 feet. Additionally, drones are prohibited for a one (1) nautical mile radius around Raymond James Stadium on February 7 from 10:00 a.m. until the TFR for the game takes effect. Should an unlucky drone operator get caught operating a UAS in violation of the FAA’s TFR without permission, the FAA may seek civil penalties in excess of $30,000 and potential criminal prosecution. https://www.faa.gov/news/updates/?newsId=96540

Some basic math will help illustrate the breadth of the FAA’s TFR regarding the nautical mile restriction. For every 1 nautical mile there is 1.151 statute miles (what we commonly refer to while driving our cars). Thus, 30-nautical-miles equates to approximately 34.5234-statute-miles. So, drone operators in Clearwater, Brandon, Sarasota, Plant City, Tarpon Springs, Ruskin, New Port Richey, Zephyrhills, and parts of both Lakeland and Brooksville (to name just a few cities in the TFR zone), will certainly be impacted by the Super Bowl TFR, despite the fact that 30-nautical-miles will probably be far beyond the distance capabilities of most consumer drones.

As if the TFR for the February 7, 2021, Super Bowl was not restrictive enough, the FAA also established a TFR around the Raymond James vicinity leading up to the Super Bowl. Beginning January 29 to February 6, the FAA will restrict drone flights for roughly two (2) nautical miles around Julian B. Lane Riverfront Park and Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park up to an altitude of 2,000 feet.

Just imagine, living on the outer edge of the 30-nautical-mile radius from the Raymond James Stadium and flying your DJI Mavic, EXO Zino, or Aee AP9 during the Super Bowl, only to see the FBI and police approach you about, what would otherwise be, a harmless drone flight. As of February 6, 2021, the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office has responded nearly 70 drone intrusions into the No Fly Zones around Super Bowl Events. Law enforcement and the FAA claim that drones can be used as weapons or, when operated by pilots not certificated under Part 107 or exempted by 49 CFR 44809, cause injury to individuals on the ground. https://www.abcactionnews.com/sports/super-bowl/hcso-deputies-respond-to-nearly-70-drone-violations-around-super-bowl-events?_amp=true

Drone operations near Super Bowl LV may cost you more than the innocent fun you were expecting to have. If you received a Letter of Investigation or Notice of Proposed Civil Penalty due to an alleged violation of the FAA’s TFR regarding drone activity around Super Bowl LV, call the Pilot Lawyers at The Ison Law Firm to discuss your rights and legal options at 855-FAA-1215.