CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) – Flying drones has become a popular hobby in recent years. Many children get them as presents on their birthday or Christmas, but the popular gadgets pose a serious safety threat if they’re flown within a five-mile radius.
“If it was ingested into an aircraft, the engine would be done. If it was to hit the windshield, it could go through the windshield,” Russell Kennedy, Operations Manager at Yeager Airport said.
People should also be aware of the danger laser pointers can pose to pilots.
“If a laser strikes the cockpit, it can blind the pilot causing a crash,” Kennedy said.
Members of the Drone Laser Strike Committee met at Yeager Airport to discuss ways to deal with drones and lasers Thursday. So far, the airport has had three drone sightings nearby in recent years.
“We had one drone sighting two summers ago from the end of our tax away down by the Capitol Jet Center which overlooks Capitol High School. We have had one drone sighting to our north over by the interstate side. We had HealthNet report a sighting as they were landing at CAMC that the drone literally got what we call ‘danger close’,” Kennedy said.
Yeager Airport Chief of Police Eric Johnson says people should report sightings immediately to ensure the public’s safety.
“If the sighting is made by a pilot, that pilot is going to notify air traffic control here in Charleston and then they’re going to contact Yeager Airport Police Department. We then will contact any jurisdiction within our airspace,” Johnson said.
Johnson wants people to know if they’re flying illegally, it’s a federal crime.
“There’s a lot of recreational pilots out there that just don’t know the law and as a result could get themselves into a lot of hot water if they violate any of these federal regulations,” Johnson said.
If you do see a drone, call the Yeager Airport Police Department at 304-344-5158.