Super Bowl Phoenix

Don’t plan on flying a drone around Phoenix this coming weekend

Glendale, Arizona, which is located approximately 9 miles northwest of Downtown Phoenix, is set to host Super Bowl LVII this weekend.

The game is the usual Super Bowl Sunday, set for Sunday, February 12 at State Farm Stadium in Glendale. And as is the case every year, the area is a “No Drone Zone” for most of the weekend.

The Federal Aviation Administration is restricting drones from flying during much of the weekend in downtown Phoenix and around the stadium via a Temporary Flight Restriction (TFR). Of course, this doesn’t apply to just drones, but glider operations, flight training, and other UAS operations too.

On Super Bowl Sunday, the TFR restricts aircraft within two-nautical-miles around the stadium up to 2,000 feet in altitude beginning at 11 a.m. local time (that’s MST).

Then, at 3:30 p.m., restrictions get even tougher, with no drones within a 30-nautical-mile radius and up to 18,000 feet in altitude. That’s in effect until 9 p.m. local time. That’s a huge radius, and it basically means you shouldn’t plan on flying drones around Phoenix anytime between 3:30 and 9 p.m. on Super Bowl Sunday.

Separately, there are restrictions for downtown Phoenix earlier on in the weekend. Drones are not permitted to fly up to an altitude of 1,000 feet from Thursday, Feb. 9 through Sunday, Feb. 12 between 6 a.m. and midnight daily in the downtown Phoenix area between McDowell Road, W. Lincoln Street, North Ninth Street and North Ninth Avenue.

Get a further breakdown of all the Super Bowl weekend drone rules from the FAA here.

What happens if you break the Phoenix Super Bowl drone restrictions? A fine and potential jail time. According to the FAA, drone operators who enter the TFRs without permission could face drone confiscation, fines that exceed $30,000 and potential criminal prosecution.

Sure, the Super Bowl rules feel prohibitive for some drone pilots itching for an epic aerial, but it’s not actually all that surprising, especially for folks who are Part 107 Remote Pilot certified, or who have passed their TRUST test to fly drones recreationally. While the Super Bowl rules are certainly stricter than the rules for more everyday sporting events — drones have always been prohibited from flying near NFL games.

Flying drones within a radius of three nautical miles of the stadium or venue is prohibited starting one hour before and ending one hour after the scheduled time of any of the following events:

  • Major League Baseball
  • National Football League
  • NCAA Division One Football
  • NASCAR Sprint Cup, Indy Car, and Champ Series races

Super Bowl Sunday or just any day of the year, you can easily know if it’s legal to fly your drone in a certain area by checking the FAA’s B4UFLY website. Input your intended flight location and the FAA will tell you if it’s okay or not.

My San Francisco 49ers didn’t make it to Phoenix for the Super Bowl, and your drone shouldn’t either.

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