Keesler hoping to inform public on drone usage and restrictions

Keesler hoping to inform public on drone usage and restrictions

KEESLER AFB, BILOXI (WLOX) - New unmanned flight technology is requiring Keesler Air Force Base to be a step ahead of the game.

Drones, or as they're called in military speak, small unmanned aircraft systems, are becoming more and more popular and accessible. Military bases are trying to stay ahead of the curve when it comes to security.

Officials at Keesler are trying to inform the public about what can and can't be done near a military base, especially one with a strict air space surrounding it.

"The main issue that we're having, and not necessarily here, but in the United States in general, is that when they're purchasing these aircraft, they're not following the proper steps," said Tech. Sgt. Blaine Caudill.

Proper steps, according to Caudill, include registering with the Federal Aviation Administration and making sure you've done your homework.

Keesler is under a TFR, or temporary flight restriction.

"So, at no time should you be flying your sUAS over Keesler," said Caudill.

The base is requiring drone pilots to email flight requests with scheduled time of flight, duration of flight, and planned altitude before flying within a five-mile radius of the restricted air space. Some of the needed information is easily accessed through the base's new app.

This controlled radius means many public areas are included, like the beach.

"When we have those bigger events come down to the coast, what we're trying to do is make our main focus to be able to educate the public on where you can and cannot fly these things and keep them out of our airspace," said Senior Master Sgt. Kevin Lambert, who is in charge of security and law enforcement on the base.

Drones pose a potential threat with surveillance capabilities, or even safety issues.

"If we don't know that you're out there flying, how can we give traffic calls to our pilots?" said Caudill.

The base is hoping to hold town hall meetings for further discussion in the near future.

Copyright 2017 WLOX. All rights reserved.