Recreational drone usage not allowed on DoD installations

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Keith James

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH, Texas -- Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (SUAS), or drones, are growing in popularity. Drones can greatly enhance functions across various commercial industries and are a fun and relatively inexpensive hobby. While drones can be a great hobby, they can also threaten Air Force operations.

The DoD has prohibited recreational drone use on all its installations. Recreational and commercial drone operations require appropriate approval authority, starting at the installation commander level.

According to Cory Sivertson, AETC's SUAS program manager, additional requirements include approvals from the Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC), Headquarters Air Force (HAF), and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

"The bottom line is that we don't want drones interfering with AETC's busy flight operations, causing damage to Air Force property, or injuring personnel during recreational or commercial drone use," Sivertson said.

While prohibited on DoD installations, there are locations locally, where recreational drone operations are authorized.

"Before flying drones, no matter how big or small, civilian drone operators must visit the FAA's DroneZone website,” he said. “Once there, you'll find information on how to register your drone, as well as all FAA-required training.” 

That website is located at

Drone operators should also download the 'B4UFLY' app to help recognize airspace restrictions and requirements and must immediately report dangerous or illegal operations to local law enforcement.

Contact the local FAA Flight Standards District Office (FSDO) if you observe drone operations not following FAA rules.

Find your Local FAA FSDOs using the following link: Unauthorized drone usage is subject to penalties and criminal charges. 

For more information on drone operations on DoD installations, contact Sivertson at