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A Navy jet pilot’s landing was interrupted by a drone

Drones: Navigating the crowded skies

Ed Couch, a longtime model airplane flier who has an exemption to fly drones commercially, talks about waiting to see how the rules might change as the FAA ponders what to do about drones.
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Ed Couch, a longtime model airplane flier who has an exemption to fly drones commercially, talks about waiting to see how the rules might change as the FAA ponders what to do about drones.

A Navy fighter jet pilot on Wednesday was forced to dodge a non-military drone that was flying in restricted airspace over the Boca Chica Bridge in the Keys, the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office said.

The pilot of an F/A-18 Super Hornet saw the drone — which was flying at about 800 feet — as he was coming in to make a landing.

“The incident required Navy officials to switch runways,” said Adam Linhardt, the spokesman for the sheriff’s office.

Deputies were still looking for the drone’s operator Wednesday afternoon, he said.

No injuries or damage to the jet was reported.

Federal Aviation Administration guidelines forbid operating a drone above 400 feet, within five miles of an airport or in restricted military airspace, such as the area near and around Boca Chica Field, which is part of Naval Air Station Key West.

“Those who violate FAA regulations regarding drones can suffer fines potentially in the tens of thousands of dollars,” Linhardt said.

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