FBI: Drone pilots caught flying in Super Bowl area face fines, jail time

ATLANTA — FBI officials say they have confiscated half a dozen unauthorized drones flying around Mercedes-Benz Stadium ahead of Super Bowl 53.

The Federal Aviation Administration has issued a temporary flight restriction (TFR) in the areas around the stadium and is warning pilots to stay out of the "no drone zone."

Officials issued a stern warning message to the public Thursday that pilots caught flying drones in the area face significant fines and/or jail time.

Channel 2's Aaron Diamant talked to frustrated FBI officials, who said drones take away security resources from other areas that need them.

“It’s taken a lot of time, it’s taken up a lot of time for our agents and for law enforcement officers to be targeting these drones when they could be working on other security measures." FBI Spokesman Kevin Rowson said.

Not only do agents have to figure out if any of the unauthorized drones are weaponized, officials are also concerned they could crash and hurt someone.

The FBI's lead Super Bowl planner, John Cronier, said that's not the only problem.

"A drone impact with a fixed-wing aircraft or a helicopter of any sort would be catastrophic," Cronier said. "We are making sure that doesn't happen."


The FAA is encouraging drone pilots to check their app and be aware of restricted areas.

On Friday and Saturday, drones can't fly for one nautical mile around the stadium up to an altitude of 1,000 feet. The same restriction applies Sunday from 10:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

On game day, drones are not allowed within a 30 nautical-mile radius of the stadium up to 17,999 feet in altitude from 5:30 a.m. to 11:59 p.m.

For FBI agents, the message is simple.

"No drones from here through the Super Bowl."