Unmanned aircraft systems, or UAS (also known as unmanned aerial vehicles, UAVs or drones), once relegated to intelligence gathering and military activities, are now widely available to hobbyists and commercial enterprises.
Nearly half a million people nationwide have registered drones with the Federal Aviation Administration since December 2015.
In Hawaii, more than 3,000 drones have been registered as of May, according to FAA statistics.
Kualoa Ranch even hosted the World Drone Racing Championship in October, which brought operators from as far away as Ukraine and the United Arab Emirates to the islands.
But as the holidays near and more of the remote-controlled aircraft land under Christmas trees, officials are reminding the public to operate them safely and responsibly — off post!
Reason is, U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii prohibits the unauthorized operation of drones over its properties. Violation of this policy on remotely controlled aircraft could result in disciplinary action.
“There is a security concern associated with it, with having drones potentially flying over and filming a military installation,” said James C. Knight, chief of the Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security’s Aviation Division. “And then there’s the potential of drones posing a hazard to some of (the Army’s) low-flying helicopters.”
He noted that there have been no indications of drones being used for spying over USAG-HI property, but added that some families living on base may be operating their drones for recreation without realizing they are in violation of Army policy.