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Policy for UASs on base updated

HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass. – Base officials are reminding personnel here that all recreational small unmanned aerial systems, commonly referred to as drones, are prohibited over the boundaries of the installation.

The restriction covers operation, take-off, landing and or flyover of these personal aircraft on all Hanscom property and the Sagamore Hill Solar Radio Observatory in Hamilton, Massachusetts.

“In order to control the use of these small aircraft systems on base, a recommendation was made to the Integrated Defense Council last year to prohibit their use,” said Maj. Brett Skates, 66th Security Forces Squadron commander. “The final decision was made to ensure the safety and security of everyone who lives and works at Hanscom.”

The policy does not include Fourth Cliff Recreation Area in Humarock, Massachusetts.

“The 66th Air Base Group may permit the official use of small unmanned aircraft systems so long as the approval process is followed,” Skates said. “Organizations that use them for official purposes must obtain approvals from base agencies before operating these small aircraft.”

The requesting agency must submit information in writing to the Hanscom Field Federal Aviation Administration control tower identifying the type and model of aircraft, the date, time and location to be flown, as well as the altitude, duration and planned activity during use. The request must also include contact information for the requestor. Personnel may submit their requests through www.faa.gov/UAS.  

Those requesting to operate UASs on base must also seek approval from the 66th Communications and Information Division, 66th Security Forces Squadron, and if equipped with a camera, Public Affairs, prior to final approval from the 66th Air Base Group.

Approval is required to ensure base agencies and first responders are aware of the operations, and to deconflict events that may be occurring at the same time or in the same areas of flight operations, Skates said.

The Hanscom policy follows an agreement in 2016 by the FAA and Department of Defense to restrict drone flights within the boundaries of several other military installations, according to an FAA release published on www.faa.gov.  

The FAA website includes detailed information on where people may safely fly UASs within the FAA guidelines and regulations.

For those interested in flying the small aircraft off Hanscom AFB, and within five nautical miles of Hanscom Airfield, FAA officials remind users they may be required to register the UAS with the FAA and contact the air traffic control tower at Hanscom Field before flying.

According to the FAA website, UAS operators must follow these basic safety guidelines when operating them:

- Fly at or below 400 feet and stay away from surrounding obstacles
- Keep your UAS within sight
- Never fly near other aircraft, especially near airports
- Never fly over stadiums or sports events
- Never fly near emergency response efforts such as fires
- Never fly under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- Understand airspace restrictions and requirements

To assist with registering and marking unmanned aircraft between 0.55 pounds and up to 55 pounds, the FAA provides a web-based aircraft registration process for owners of small UASs at https://registermyuas.faa.gov/.  

Registrants 13 years of age or older will need to provide their name, home address and an email address. Upon completion of the registration process, the web application will generate a certificate of aircraft registration/proof of ownership that will include a unique identification number for the UAS owner, which must be marked on the aircraft. There is a $5 registration fee for a period of three years.

Owners using model aircraft for hobby or recreation will only have to register once and may use the same identification number for all of their model aircraft.

Detailed information on drone use, to include rules, regulations and registration are at www.faa.gov/uas  
and www.knowbeforeyoufly.org

A mobile phone app is also available to determine whether there are any restrictions or requirements in effect at the location users want to fly. 

For further information regarding the Hanscom UAS policy, contact Staff Sgt. Andrew Pierce at 781-225-5000.