By Mr. Stephen Standifird (Leonard Wood)July 27, 2017
There has been dramatic growth throughout the United States in the use of unmanned aircraft during recent years, and because of this, Fort Leonard Wood officials released Command Policy 19 addressing their use on post.
According to Pat Daniels, Maneuver Support Center of Excellence and Fort Leonard Wood Antiterrorism and Force Protection officer, the command policy was issued in an effort to provide guidance on responsible UA use on post.
The Federal Aviation Administration defines "unmanned aircraft" as a device that is used or intended to be used for flight in the air without the possibility of direct human intervention from within or on the device. This term includes all types of devices that meet this definition (e.g., model airplanes, quadcopters, drones) that are used for any purpose, including for recreation.
Up until the policy was signed by the commanding general, the installation was considered a "no fly zone," Daniels said.
"We wanted everyone to be able to fly in a safe environment," Daniels added.
Gammon Field is the only authorized area on Fort Leonard Wood where UAs can be flown up to 400 feet above ground level, the policy states. This is to ensure the safety of personnel on post and negates the potential to disrupt training, Daniels added.
One important aspect to the policy, according to Bryan Rush, Fort Leonard Wood air traffic controller, is coordinating with the Forney Air Field Air Traffic Control Tower prior to launching.
"Our airspace is pretty complex for how small it is," Rush said. "It is crucial to communicate with aviation personnel prior to operating, and get their approval, if you want to be safe and responsible."
Rush emphasizes that leaving a voice mail is not the same as receiving permission from the tower.
"Permission to fly is at the discretion of the air traffic controller, in one-hour blocks," Rush added, stating the conditions of the air space can change given the amount of aircraft that regularly fly above or around Fort Leonard Wood.
The tower can be contacted at 573.596.0131, ext. 60065. Personnel are required to leave a phone number for the tower in case they need to cancel the flight due to changing air space conditions, Rush said.
"Our responsibility as air traffic controllers is to make sure all aviation assets are getting to and from point A and B safely," Rush said. "If we have a guy and his son flying a drone they got for Christmas, and we don't know, it can become a very bad situation very quickly. Aircraft are not indestructible."
The policy sites FAA regulations as the reason the air traffic control tower needs to be notified, since Gammon Field is less than five miles from Forney Field.
The FAA also requires all UAs weighing more than .55 pounds to be registered with their agency at federaldroneregistration.com.
Daniels said, referencing the policy, that any UA equipped with cameras or data collection devices are not permitted to record on Fort Leonard Wood.
Violations of the policy by personnel, including military members, DOD civilians, contractors, dependents and sponsored visitors, are subject to criminal punishment and/or administrative sanctions, the policy states.
Age isn't an excuse for not knowing the regulation, Rush said. All users ages 11 and younger are required to have adult supervision when they fly.
"Everybody needs to be aware of the policy, so if you see something, you can report it," Daniels added.
Reporting violations is about safety, Rush said.
"We have a lot going on at the airport," he said. "We don't want (UA) operators to assume there is nothing around. Never assume you are the only one in the air space."
Command Policy 19 can be found online at www.wood.army.mil/newweb/policies/CP_19.pdf.