(WFLA) — The Federal Aviation Administration says that reports of unmanned aircraft have increased dramatically over the last year.
In August, the FAA released a new list of pilot, aircraft and citizen reports of possible encounters with unmanned aircraft. The FAA documents reveal there have been a dozen reported drone sightings here in the Tampa Bay area from March to August of this year. Drones are referred to as Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) by the FAA.
The FAA issued a stern warning for people who operate drones.
“The FAA wants to send a clear message that operating drones around airplanes and helicopters is dangerous and illegal. Unauthorized operators may be subject to stiff fines and criminal charges, including possible jail time.”
Below is a list of drone sightings in the Tampa Bay area that were reported to the FAA from March to August of 2015. Some of the sightings were near passenger jets.
March, 3, 2015 at 1 p.m. in Tampa
MacDill Air Force Base reported that a drone weighing less than 300 lbs crashed by a perimeter fence at the base. No property damage was reported.
March 7, 2015 at 2:25 p.m. in Tampa
Tampa International Airport reported that a Hawker Beechcraft BE58 that had just taken off from the airport and encountered a silver and red drone flying at 2,000 feet altitude about 3 1/2 miles east-northeast of the airport. The drone was two feet wide and with four propellers. No evasive action was taken, Local law enforcement was notified about the incident.
March 8, 2015 at 2:23 p.m. in Sarasota
A pilot reported seeing a drone operating at about 3,000 feet altitude 15 miles northeast of the Sarasota-Bradenton Airport. The pilot said he was about one mile away from the drone and he could not be sure if it was a drone.
March 12, 2015 at 5:42 p.m. in Tampa
The pilot of Delta Flight# 1712 was descending between 1,500 and 1,300 feet altitude on the final approach to Tampa International Airport and reported seeing a drone passing to the left of the jet. The pilot said the drone was 500 feet below his aircraft. The drone had legs and a crab-like appearance.
March 22, 2015 at 4:30 p.m. in St. Petersburg
An aircraft that was flying at an altitude of 800 feet and was 3 1/2 miles southwest of Albert Whitted Airport reported seeing a drone flying at 700 feet.
April 6, 2015 at 11:07 a.m. at Marco Island
The pilot of a Cirrus SR22 plane reported seeing a small, dark, fast-moving drone flying at 5,500 feet 30 miles south of Marco Island Executive Airport. Law Enforcement was not notified. No evasive action was reported.
April 17, 2015 at 7:07 in Tampa
A Boeing Stratotanker that was approaching MacDill Air Force Base at 1,600 feet altitude reported seeing a red and blue quadcopter flying 20 feet below the aircraft.
June 18, 2015 at 8:40 p.m. in St. Petersburg
A sheriff’s office helicopter reported seeing a possible drone with a red light flying at 600 feet, 1/2 mile west of St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport. No evasive action was reported.
June 26, 2015 at 5:55 p.m. in Tampa
Delta Airlines flight# 2330 was approaching a runway at Tampa International Airport and reported seeing a drone flying at 2,000 feet altitude on the right side of the aircraft.
June 28, 2015 at 3:46 p.m. in Tampa
A Cessna 177 was flying southbound ar 1,600 altitude and was four miles south of Tampa Executive Airport when the pilot saw a drone flying over his plane at 1,800 feet. The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office was notified.
July 2, 2015 at 3:30 p.m. in Sarasota
A possible drone was reported by a pilot on the 3-mile final approach to Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport. The possible drone was 4-feet wide and was black and white. The object may have also been a kite, according to FAA documents. No evasive action was taken.
July 4, 2015 at 2:30 p.m. in Tampa
The pilot of American Airlines flight # 1808 reported seeing a 2-foot wide, blue and orange drone pass above his jet. The pilot estimated the drone was about 100 feet above the aircraft. No evasive action was taken. The Tampa Police Department was notified.