drone flying in front of waterfall
Pedro Henrique Santos via Unsplash

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has issued a statement warning drone operators not to fly over areas that have been affected by Hurricane Michael, which hit Florida on Wednesday. Doing so can interfere with emergency response operations and as if that wasn’t enough of a deterrent, it will also cost you—at least $20,000.

“Many aircrafts that are conducting life-saving missions and other critical response and recovery efforts are likely to be flying at low altitudes,” the statement says. “Flying a drone without authorization in or near the disaster area many unintentionally disrupt rescue operations… allow first responders to save lives and property without interference.”

The FAA does have a message for drone operators that want to lend a hand in the recovery operations. The agency encourages these people to coordinate with FAA’s System Operations Support Center and provide them with the following information:

  • the unmanned aircraft type
  • a PDF copy of a current FAA COA
  • the pilot’s Part 107 certificate number
  • details about the proposed flight (date, time, location, altitude, direction and distance to the nearest airport, and latitude/longitude)
  • nature of the event (fire, law enforcement, local/national disaster, missing person) and the pilot’s qualification information.

Related: You once again have to register your drone—yes, even the little ones

Use your head and don’t become an internet meme folks.