Days Before the Super Bowl, the FBI Goes Drone Hunting Around Atlanta

February 1, 2019, 11:47 PM UTC

The biggest pro football game of the year and the festivities leading to it are supposed to be a “No Drone Zone.”

But FBI agents this week found that the skies in Atlanta near where the Super Bowl will be played on Sunday were actually crowded with the devices. The agency confiscated six of them on Thursday, according to a tweet.

“It has taken up a lot of time for our agents and law enforcement officers to be targeting these drones when they could be working on other security measures,” FBI spokesman Kevin Rowson said, according to the Associated Press.

The Federal Aviation Administration—which coined the term “No Drone Zone”—has barred drones from flying within a mile of Mercedes-Benz Stadium, which has a retractable dome, since Thursday. Starting at 5:30 p.m. on Sunday, the day of the game, the agency will prohibit them from flying within 35 miles (56 kilometers) of the stadium.

Federal officials are concerned that drones could become a safety hazard if they malfunction and fall onto people. There is also growing worry that they could become a tool for terrorists.

The FBI action comes as drones have increasingly been linked to airport disruptions. Arriving flights to Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey were briefly halted on Jan. 22 after pilots on two flights spotted what they said was a small drone on the approach path.

Flights were also halted in recent weeks at two London airports after reports of drone activity.