Drones Interfere With Oklahoma Flood Response

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Helicopters participating in the disaster response efforts surrounding severe flooding in Oklahoma are having trouble with illegal unmanned aircraft system (UAS/drone) operations interfering with their flights. According to Tulsa Fire Department spokesperson Andrew Little, emergency response personnel encountered approximately 30 drones flying illegally on Wednesday alone. Little emphasized that emergency response helicopters can’t operate when drones have been sighted in the area due to the potential for an accident.

“We have a much higher than normal rate of low flying helicopters delivering payloads or search and rescue,” the Tulsa Police Department said in a statement. “If a UAS is flying in the area they are at tremendous risk.” In a video—shown below—posted on Facebook by the Tulsa Police department, police and fire department personnel requested that UAS operators stay clear of flood areas and fly in accordance with FAA regulations.

At least 400 homes have been evacuated and six people killed this week due to the flooding and associated storms. All of Oklahoma’s 77 counties are under a state of emergency. Arkansas and Louisiana are also experiencing record-breaking flooding.

Problems with DronesWe are having an issue with UAS operators and their aircrafts.There have been several reports of Unmanned Aircraft Systems operating outside of established FAA regulations. These "drones" are a major problem for our military and civilian aircraft trying working on this crisis. We have a much higher than normal rate of low flying helicopters delivering payloads or search and rescue. If a UAS is flying in the area they are at tremendous risk. If you're new to the hobby please ensure you follow the FAA regulations found onhttps://www.faa.gov/uas/If you're a 107 license holder and violating regulations, you know better. Thanks. Tulsa Fire Department#2019TulsaFlood

Posted by Tulsa Police Department on Tuesday, May 28, 2019

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