FAA No-Fly Zone Over Ferguson Was to Ban Media

| by Michael Allen

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) declared a no-fly zone on Aug. 12 over Ferguson, Mo., after police used military weapons against protesters.

According to, at the time, the FAA claimed on its website that the no-fly zone was required to “provide a safe environment for law enforcement activities.”

The no-fly zone also banned the media, which questioned the action at the time.

However, the Associated Press recently obtained audio recordings via the U.S. Freedom of Information Act that show the St. Louis County Police Department wanted the no-fly zone to ban TV news helicopters from covering the protests and the FAA knew it.

"They finally admitted it really was to keep the media out," an unidentified FAA manager said on the audio recordings. "But they were a little concerned of, obviously, anything else that could be going on."

A Kansas City FAA manager added that the police "did not care if you ran commercial traffic through this TFR (temporary flight restriction) all day long. They didn't want media in there."

Last Friday, the St. Louis County Police Department told the Associated Press that the no-fly request was in response to a police helicopter being shot.

However, there was no police report or damage to the helicopter to back up the claim.

"FAA cannot and will never exclusively ban media from covering an event of national significance, and media was never banned from covering the ongoing events in Ferguson in this case," FAA Administrator Michael Huerta said in a statement today.

But the audio recordings quote a FAA official stating, "A lot of the time the [lesser restriction] just keeps the press out, anyways. They don't understand the difference."

Sources:, Associated Press (Image Credit: Jamelle Bouie)