Can you shoot down a drone over your own yard? Maybe not

posted at 10:01 am on January 14, 2016 by Jazz Shaw

The Washington Post has an interesting interview this week with William Merideth, the Kentucky businessman who famously took a shotgun and introduced a terminal malfunction to a camera equipped drone hovering over his property last year. The case, while providing some amusement to the public initially, has raised vexing questions about property rights, privacy, and the limits of the government (under the auspices of the Federal Aviation Administration) to control the airspace over your property. It’s been mostly settled law for quite some time that property owners control the mineral rights and other resources under their land, but how much of the air do you control over it?

“There is gray area in terms of how far your property rights extend,” said Jeramie Scott, national security counsel at the Electronic Privacy Information Center. “It’s going to need to be addressed sooner rather than later as drones are integrated into the national airspace.”

The issue is becoming more urgent as drones are crowding America’s skies: The Consumer Technology Association estimated 700,000 were sold last year.

According to the Federal Aviation Administration, every inch above the tip of your grass blades is the government’s jurisdiction. “The FAA is responsible for the safety and management of U.S. airspace from the ground up,” said an agency spokesman, echoing rules laid out on its website.

But common law long held that landowners’ rights went “all the way to Heaven.” And today, it’s clear that they have some rights.

What we have here is yet another case of technology rapidly outstripping existing laws which didn’t take the pace of such advances into account. There was never a question as to whether or not you could forbid Delta from flying a jet 30,000 feet over your house. By the same token, nobody can just walk across your property without your permission. (Or a court order in the case of law enforcement.) But what about the spaces closer to the ground? If you’re not allowed to come onto your neighbor’s property and peer into their bedroom window, is it somehow different if you send a camera mounted on a drone to do the job? That seems like it should be a no brainer to me. After all, as the author notes, if a neighbor’s tree has a branch hanging in the air over your fence you can cut it off.

The only court case referenced in this debate is that of United States v. Causby, but that doesn’t really seem to address the key questions in play here. Causby was a chicken rancher who lived near a military air strip and government planes were regularly flying over his property at altitudes of less than 100 feet causing havoc among his birds and putting him out of business. (He was awarded compensation in the judgement.) The Causby case would seem to at least imply that the planes had violated his property rights, but it’s more of an issue of a noise nuisance.

It sounds to me as if the courts will need to either take a huge smack at personal privacy and agree that the FAA controls every inch above the tip of your grass blades or set some sort of arbitrary limit. If that limit is too low then anyone with a drone camera can still act as a peeping Tom, but how high would be high enough? Google Earth has pictures of your house and yard in fairly amazing detail (taken from space!) though not close enough to peer in your windows. (Yet, anyway.) And what about all of those new drone delivery systems under discussion, such as the scheme Amazon has been developing? Will they be forced to fly at 500 or 1,000 feet until they reach their destination and then drop straight down? Or will the operators be forced to follow the public roadways below them until the drone reaches your house?

Personally, I’m with William Merideth on this one, at least on an emotional level. Nobody should be able to send a camera into your yard to spy on you without your permission, and if they do you should be able to shoot the perpetrator’s craft down. Somehow I don’t think the courts are going to agree, though.

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Comment pages: 1 2 3

It sounds to me as if the courts will need to either take a huge smack at personal privacy and agree that the FAA controls every inch above the tip of your grass blades or set some sort of arbitrary limit. If that limit is too low then anyone with a drone camera can still act as a peeping Tom, but how high would be high enough?

Jazz, not sure if this has been linked to, but “navigable” airspace is 500 feet. The NTSB has said so in an amicus brief against a model airplane operator.

Importantly, the court also found that at some point airspace becomes a public highway for flight. The Supreme Court rejected the common law rule, stating that “[c]ommon sense revolts at the idea” of subjecting every transcontinental flight to countless trespass lawsuits. For guidance the court looked to the Air Commerce Act of 1926 and related regulations enacted pursuant to the Civil Aeronautics Act of 1938, which state that the United States has “complete and exclusive national sovereignty” in navigable airspace. Navigable airspace was defined by a proscribed minimum altitude of safe flight (which may be generally summarized as being 500 feet above the surface, or 1000 feet above the highest obstacle in congested areas, such as a city). See 14 C.F.R. § 91.119. Finding that “navigable airspace” is a public highway to which only the public has a claim, the court set navigable airspace as a public zone above a landowner’s claim to the airspace above his land.
http://www.stroudlaw.com/hey-thats-my-air-trespass-by-delivery-drone/

Patriot Vet on January 14, 2016 at 3:21 PM

…If they are not broadcasting (and most are not; too heavy) and if the operator has no line of sight temporarily, you can down it and claim it fell on it’s own or got entangled…

jake1246 on January 14, 2016 at 3:14 PM

Except that almost all of them do. Video transmitters are TINY:

http://blog.oscarliang.net/ctt/uploads/2014/12/TS5823-size-comparison.jpg

https://i.ytimg.com/vi/J833d3fi2mk/maxresdefault.jpg

http://i2.wp.com/blog.oscarliang.net/ctt/uploads/2015/02/size-comparison-2-hand-cjmcu-micro-quad.jpg?resize=350%2C200

That last image is of a mini-copter with a FULL “First Person View” setup on it. Camera, transmitter, the whole shebang.

All you need is an inexpensive video recorder with a receiver on it (less than $100) and you can record every second of your flight for review later. I record every flight on mine.

wearyman on January 14, 2016 at 3:25 PM

I recall selling commercial property complete with “air rights”
I suppose if you have a pesky drone hovering over you, you can just send a bigger one up to “mate” with it.

Don L on January 14, 2016 at 3:31 PM

wearyman on January 14, 2016 at 3:25 PM

If a drone is being operated below tree-top level over private property owned by someone else, it is definitely NOT being operated in a safe manner. Now revise your comments in light of UNSAFE operation and how you have a “right” to operate your aircraft in an UNSAFE manner. Please, be my guest.

Oh, and you are operating a model aircraft, not a drone. A drone can hover and can get very good pictures unlike fixed cameras on model aircraft. Even you should recognize the strawman character of your arguments.

dominigan on January 14, 2016 at 3:33 PM

And you are taking a VERY selective reading of a regulation promulgated for full sized aircraft and applying it to tiny models. Under your reading NO model could EVER be flown, at an RC club or anywhere else. Nor could Ultralight aircraft or Helicopters.
wearyman on January 14, 2016 at 3:16 PM

Make up your mind – are drones “aircraft” or not?
You’ve been (mis)using FAA regulations to justify what you want to do – which means you are defining your drone as an “aircraft”.
Now that I’ve pointed to the real applicable regulations (minimum safe altitudes) regarding “aircraft” you suddenly don’t want your drone in that category.

You pointed to was a House bill directing that the FAA to develop rules – so back to your “legal opinion” problem.
And your advisory reference only talk about what operational restrictions the FAA IS to be concerned with – and don’t even cover private property and private airspace – and that doesn’t mean you CAN do whatever you want. In fact it does state a requirement that

The aircraft operates in accordance with a community-based set of safety guidelines and within the programming of a nationwide community-based organization (CBO);

So you are still cherry picking and misusing FAA regulations for your own benefit.

dentarthurdent on January 14, 2016 at 3:37 PM

wearyman on January 14, 2016 at 1:21 PM

Understand the premise of my statement.
Assuming the environment is getting way too populated with these things.
(I’ll assume you’re a AMA member in good standing with lots of LIABILITY INSURANCE, and if you don’t have coverage and you fly RC you are a FOOL because your homeowners insurance doesn’t apply.)

Back to the matter of civil disturbances …
You (your) machine is causing me (my animals*) distress.
I will, if I wish to … remedy the situation in 50 milliseconds. It is called an EOCM. Cls IV lasers are far more potent than any ‘laser pointer’ so, keep your LIA safety goggles handy.

* Go disturb/frighten someone’s prize horse or steer and see what the owner does.
Besides and AMA card you’ll need an attorney on speed-dial.
Unintended consequences.

Missilengr on January 14, 2016 at 3:41 PM

I enjoy flying rocks and bb’s over my property: I call them “passive drones”. They are legal because they are all under 0.5 lb.

If someone else’s active drone gets in the way, it’s not my problem.

landlines on January 14, 2016 at 3:43 PM

wearyman on January 14, 2016 at 3:16 PM

Bottom line to all the relevant laws, regulations, and legal decisions – YOU don’t have the right to use your drone over my property (especially below 500 feet) in any manner that I consider to be a nuisance or safety hazard which interferes with my “enjoyment of my private property”.

dentarthurdent on January 14, 2016 at 3:58 PM

I have the unfortunate luck to live next to a guy who is attempting to fly one of these things every night. He sucks at it and loses it a couple times a week. So far, he’s gotten it back, he did trespass to get it on one occasion.
The bottom line is that all the neighbors are getting annoyed. At some point he is going to lose it and whoever finds it will not give it back.
I am all for shooting them or downing them by whatever means necessary. If the owner is offended, he or she should be flying it over public property. Period.

ORconservative on January 14, 2016 at 4:07 PM

You might find this interesting:

MINERAL RIGHTS – Michigan

https://www.michigan.gov/documents/deq/ogs-oilandgas-mineral-rights_257977_7.pdf

Pork-Chop on January 14, 2016 at 12:10 PM

I’m aware of that and I’m fine with all those definitions. I own my mineral rights. I leased my mineral rights for one year to a Texan drilling company, and they didn’t drill, they just did a survey (3-D echo thing). They waited too long to act on it and I did not renew their lease so they could not drill. I’ll save that oil and gas for later on, when reserves are low instead of the crap price they’re at now.

Nobody, not even the state of Michigan can come on my land and insist they drill into my oil. To bad, so sad, go find another oil pool to suck dry. Meanwhile, if any of the neighbors I have in my section start to drill, they cannot drill laterally into my field, and if they draw any oil they have to pay me and everyone in the section a percentage, or royalty.

Yep, I have lawyers too. It’s a necessary evil these days.

Andy__B on January 14, 2016 at 4:13 PM

ORconservative on January 14, 2016 at 4:07 PM

If you do need to shoot one out of the sky, take note of the lights on the bottom of the drone and wait until the camera points away from your shooting position, in case you can’t go recover the micro SD chip from the camera in the drone. Shoot the thing, go to where it crashed, remove the SD chip and stomp the pus out of the drone. Collect the scrap and drop it at your property line.

Unless someone is filming you do all this, it’s a matter of hearsay and the drone offender will have to explain it all to a judge. Doubt they’ll want to, especially if your newly acquired SD chip shows someone’s drone peeping a bit too closely at your house.

Nobody with half a brain should be even trying to snoop with a drone anyway. The only people I can think of that are stupid enough to pull this kind of crap would be a liberal or progressive anyway, they deserve whatever accidents happen to them…..

Andy__B on January 14, 2016 at 4:21 PM

dentarthurdent on January 14, 2016 at 3:58 PM

YOU aren’t the arbiter of what construes “nuisance”, nor are you the arbiter of what is or isn’t a plane, or what is or isn’t the proper flight height. The FAA and the US government are the arbiters of these things, and taking the law (or your hopelessly flawed reading of it) into your own hands is a fools errand.

I have tried to educate you on it, but you refuse to listen and keep trying to come up with insane interpretations of unrelated laws. Interpretations that if true, would mean that 75 years of Model flying are totally illegal, as is all Ultralight flight, Helicopter use Paragliders and Parachutes.

I’ll say this one last time: Model aircraft (Multicopters, plane models, Model Helis, doesn’t matter.) are considered aircraft ONLY in as such that the FAA has jurisdiction over them. THEY ARE EXEMPT from full scale flight law, INCLUDING THE 500 FOOT PROHIBITION.

Get it now? Do you understand the work “Exempt” and that it is actually possible for them to be considered “Aircraft” yet still not have the full scale rules apply?

Frankly, I’m getting tired of going round and round with you about it. Go ahead. Get your gun and shoot down the next multicopter/RCplane/RC Helicopter you see. Don’t be an internet warrior, MAN UP. DO IT. The same goes to Missilengr and his stupid lasers. GO AHEAD. I DARE YOU.

I’ll wave to you as you go by in the back of the police car.

wearyman on January 14, 2016 at 4:28 PM

YOU aren’t the arbiter of what construes “nuisance”, nor are you the arbiter of what is or isn’t a plane, or what is or isn’t the proper flight height.
wearyman on January 14, 2016 at 4:28 PM

Neither are you – in fact it’s clear to me you’re a flukin moron who can’t read.
But yes – I am the arbiter of a nuisance trespassing on my property. If you could read you’d understand that.

Fly your little plane over my property and you will lose it.
And if you want to go to court over it, you can try to explain to the judge and/or jury why you were flying your little toy around my house taking pictures of my yard and in my windows – and see if you can convince them you’re not a peeping tom or burglar casing houses.
I hear the Bubbas have a lot of fun with perverts like you in prison…..

dentarthurdent on January 14, 2016 at 4:39 PM

GO AHEAD. I DARE YOU.

wearyman on January 14, 2016 at 4:28 PM

GFY.

dentarthurdent on January 14, 2016 at 4:40 PM

I wonder if a cobbled together magnetron from a microwave with an aimable wave guide would bring one down by either the overwhelming electromagnetic waves or the heat or the interference with it’s radio?

Might be worth a try.

jake1246 on January 14, 2016 at 5:14 PM

Screw the FAA. I’ll draw the line at my ROOF LINE. Your drone drops lower………I’ll drop it even lower.

GarandFan on January 14, 2016 at 5:23 PM

Good info! Thank you.
I hope to get my hands on it.
The operator is a moron. It will happen.

ORconservative on January 14, 2016 at 5:36 PM

Neither are you – in fact it’s clear to me you’re a flukin moron who can’t read.
But yes – I am the arbiter of a nuisance trespassing on my property. If you could read you’d understand that.

Fly your little plane over my property and you will lose it.
And if you want to go to court over it, you can try to explain to the judge and/or jury why you were flying your little toy around my house taking pictures of my yard and in my windows – and see if you can convince them you’re not a peeping tom or burglar casing houses.
I hear the Bubbas have a lot of fun with perverts like you in prison…..

dentarthurdent on January 14, 2016 at 4:39 PM

The only moron here is you.

You can’t even make up your mind which thing you want to whine about. Someone flying at very low level around your yard and filming in your windows or someone flying by at 100 – 500 feet. These are two VERY different things, particularly in the eyes of the law. Yet you seem content to conflate the two totally different things with no regard to the difference.

Try explaining THAT to a judge when the footage comes back from the flyer’s ground station that shows the flight with Altimeter readings from the onboard autopilot system

http://www.creativebush.com/pictures/ezosd.jpg

that shows they were nowhere NEAR as close to your house as you are claiming and that you just shot some random RC toy out of the sky because “GEROFFMAHLAND!”

THIS is what I am trying desperately to educate you on. (And apparently failing wildly at) While I AGREE (read my posts from the previous pages) that there SHOULD be a minimum and that people SHOULD have some kind of airspace rights, the fact is that in the law today we don’t. Arrogant “Internet Toughguy” threats about shooting down people’s toys only make you look like an ignorant hillbilly a-hole that nobody is going to take seriously.

If you choose to go through with those threats, understand that in EVERY case so far (admittedly, only a handful) where a “drone” (both multicopter and fixed wing) was destroyed, the perpetrators were jailed. Mr. Meredith’s case is actually an outlier in that he was later released. In every other case the “drone destroyer” was jailed, convicted of property destruction, ordered to reimburse the operator for the loss of the craft and in one case, faced jail time.

Understand the reality of the world today. Hopefully it will change and people will have some rights over the airspace over their property. (As I previously noted, roughly 30 feet seems reasonable to me as that is the height of your average home plus a bit of extra space.) But for now, there are no rules save for existing nuisance laws and Peeping Tom laws, which every flyer should respect if they are smart.

wearyman on January 14, 2016 at 7:23 PM

wearyman on January 14, 2016 at 7:23 PM

Typical leftard – arrogant, only concerned about what you want to do, and stupid as Shiite and you think you’re “educating” us stupid right-wing rednecks.

Learn how to read, try to get some comprehension – and if you’re “Frankly, I’m getting tired of going round and round with you about it” – then quit trying to talk with the adults, get out and go back to your little kid games in mom’s basement.

dentarthurdent on January 14, 2016 at 8:29 PM

dentarthurdent on January 14, 2016 at 8:29 PM

Aaand once again we are back to the insults, the last refuge of the wrong. Even funnier since you clearly haven’t been around here long enough to know me yet. Silly newbie.

Go ahead and check my post history. Not only have I been here YEARS longer than you (First signed up back when Michelle owned the place) but I have been reliably conservative that entire time.

But whatever. Go ahead and question my Conservative Bonafides. It seems to be SOP around here when people disagree anyway, why should I be immune?

wearyman on January 14, 2016 at 8:41 PM

Again, you don’t own the airspace, and you don’t have the right to down their craft. All you can do is talk with them about it, and the vast majority of the time that is all you NEED to do.

wearyman on January 14, 2016 at 12:57 PM

On the contrary. I do own the airspace immediately above my property. There’s a whole bunch of Supreme Court precedent talking about how telephone wires are an encroachment and airplanes flying too low are an encroachment.

The most common analogy used in supreme court decisions is the bridge. If the courts wouldn’t countenance a bridge at the given altitude, then any objects invading the property space at said altitude are subject to ejectment.

unclesmrgol on January 14, 2016 at 10:37 PM

Aaand once again we are back to the insults, the last refuge of the wrong. Even funnier since you clearly haven’t been around here long enough to know me yet. Silly newbie.

wearyman on January 14, 2016 at 8:41 PM

The last option for dealing with the terminally stupid.
I’ve been here 5 years – how about you stupid newbie?
And you’ve said enough stupid shiite in this thread to negate anything else you may have posted in the past.

But I’ll try one more time:
If your toy is just a toy, then FAA airspace rules don’t apply, so your “public right to airspace” is irrelevant, and flying your toy over someone else’s house/yard is a matter of private property, nuisance, and privacy laws.
If your toy is an aircraft, then you are violating minimum safe altitudes by flying it below 500 feet in populated areas (higher if “congested”).
Either way I DO in fact own and control the airspace around my house and over my yard, so flying your toy over my house/yard is still a matter of private property, nuisance, and privacy laws. And as unclesmrgol said above – the Supreme Court has decided that way.

So if you fly your little toy over someone’s house/yard without their permission, you are very likely to lose it, and it will be YOUR gawdam fault and problem.

dentarthurdent on January 15, 2016 at 11:34 AM

That has got to be one of the dumbest things I’ve read and pretty much proves my point of the ignorance of the people posting about the dangers of drones. Like I said. It’s no better here than in an anti-gun forum. The ignorance abounds.

Dr. Frank Enstine on January 14, 2016 at 11:44 AM

You can bet that no matter how pro-gun Amos is, Amos will temporarily become quite anti-gun in the moment a criminal points a firearm at Amos. And pity the criminal if Amos decides to use his own firearm.

If I see a drone hovering by one of my windows or I see a drone taking pictures of my kids in the back yard, I will do what I can to bring it down to prevent the continued intrusion into my privacy.

Now, that’s the conservative way of thinking — you have a right to do something all the way up to the point where it begins infringing upon my rights — at which point, your right to do the thing ceases to exist.

Here’s the liberal way of thinking:

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2015/aug/12/drone-hovers-outside-hawaii-womans-window-no-crime/

And the libertarian way of thinking:

http://www.capitolhillseattle.com/2013/05/chs-x-files-capitol-hill-drone-pilot-spotted-glowing-orbs-phone-thief-on-wheels/

unclesmrgol on January 15, 2016 at 12:58 PM

http://www.capitolhillseattle.com/2013/05/chs-x-files-capitol-hill-drone-pilot-spotted-glowing-orbs-phone-thief-on-wheels/

unclesmrgol on January 15, 2016 at 12:58 PM

From that article:

This afternoon, a stranger set an aerial drone into flight over my yard and beside my house near Miller Playfield. I initially mistook its noisy buzzing for a weed-whacker on this warm spring day. After several minutes, I looked out my third-story window to see a drone hovering a few feet away. My husband went to talk to the man on the sidewalk outside our home who was operating the drone with a remote control, to ask him to not fly his drone near our home. The man insisted that it is legal for him to fly an aerial drone over our yard and adjacent to our windows. He noted that the drone has a camera, which transmits images he viewed through a set of glasses. He purported to be doing “research”.

So wearyman lives in Seattle…..

dentarthurdent on January 15, 2016 at 1:10 PM

Here’s the liberal way of thinking:

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2015/aug/12/drone-hovers-outside-hawaii-womans-window-no-crime/

And the libertarian way of thinking:

http://www.capitolhillseattle.com/2013/05/chs-x-files-capitol-hill-drone-pilot-spotted-glowing-orbs-phone-thief-on-wheels/

unclesmrgol on January 15, 2016 at 12:58 PM

In your first example the cops were morons. That was CLEARLY a “Peeping Tom” style case. No different than putting a camera on a stick and holding it up in front of a window. They just heard the word “drone” and their brains shut off. Pity the people in that town having such low caliber police.

The second example was ALSO a case of “Peeping Tom”. Again, lazy police didn’t want to bother filing a report. In BOTH cases, what the user was doing is already illegal, they had just changed the method of doing it.

wearyman on January 15, 2016 at 2:02 PM

If your toy is just a toy, then FAA airspace rules don’t apply, so your “public right to airspace” is irrelevant, and flying your toy over someone else’s house/yard is a matter of private property, nuisance, and privacy laws.
If your toy is an aircraft, then you are violating minimum safe altitudes by flying it below 500 feet in populated areas (higher if “congested”).
Either way I DO in fact own and control the airspace around my house and over my yard, so flying your toy over my house/yard is still a matter of private property, nuisance, and privacy laws. And as unclesmrgol said above – the Supreme Court has decided that way.

So if you fly your little toy over someone’s house/yard without their permission, you are very likely to lose it, and it will be YOUR gawdam fault and problem.

dentarthurdent on January 15, 2016 at 11:34 AM

You make no difference between someone just flying by or hovering at a high altitude and some arse flying his DJI Phantom right down into your yard and looking in your windows with it. That and hilariously wrong readings of FAA regs and related law. You just don’t GET what the reality of the law is, and are desperately try to twist it into something that works the way YOU want it to.

You INSIST that a Model aircraft is either a toy OR an aircraft. You aren’t comprehending the concept that it is actually BOTH in the eyes of the law. Admittedly, the legal position is a bit confusing and overly complex, but that’s hardly surprising coming from the US government.

Nevertheless, nonsensical or not, that IS the legal position of RC Models of all types right now. The FAA Considers them to BE Aircraft for the purposes of regulation. HOWEVER, it has a “Special Ruleset” that applies specifically to Model aircraft of all types. As long as they meet certain rules (these include HOW they are used) they are considered exempt from all the rules that apply to “Full Scale” aircraft.

The biggest rule is that they can’t endanger the National Airspace, which is why they are currently limited to UNDER 500 feet (not OVER 500 feet as you incorrectly claim). This is to keep them out of the way of “Full Scale” flight, which DOES have a 500 foot “floor” except in specific class airspace areas around airports and in emergency situations.

Pursuant to this special exemption there are certain manners in which the models must be operated. See these below:

SEC. 336. SPECIAL RULE FOR MODEL AIRCRAFT.
(a) IN GENERAL.—Notwithstanding any other provision of law
relating to the incorporation of unmanned aircraft systems into
Federal Aviation Administration plans and policies, including this
subtitle, the Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration
may not promulgate any rule or regulation regarding a model
aircraft, or an aircraft being developed as a model aircraft, if—
(1) the aircraft is flown strictly for hobby or recreational
use;
(2) the aircraft is operated in accordance with a community-
based set of safety guidelines and within the programming
of a nationwide community-based organization;
(3) the aircraft is limited to not more than 55 pounds
unless otherwise certified through a design, construction,
inspection, flight test, and operational safety program adminis-
tered by a community-based organization;
(4) the aircraft is operated in a manner that does not
interfere with and gives way to any manned aircraft; and
(5) when flown within 5 miles of an airport, the operator
of the aircraft provides the airport operator and the airport
air traffic control tower (when an air traffic facility is located
at the airport) with prior notice of the operation (model aircraft
operators flying from a permanent location within 5 miles of
an airport should establish a mutually-agreed upon operating
procedure with the airport operator and the airport air traffic
control tower (when an air traffic facility is located at the
airport)).
(b) STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION.—Nothing in this section shall
be construed to limit the authority of the Administrator to pursue
enforcement action against persons operating model aircraft who
endanger the safety of the national airspace system.
(c) MODEL AIRCRAFT DEFINED.—In this section, the term ‘‘model
aircraft’’ means an unmanned aircraft that is—
(1) capable of sustained flight in the atmosphere;
H. R. 658—68
(2) flown within visual line of sight of the person operating
the aircraft; and
(3) flown for hobby or recreational purposes.

Flying down into someone’s yard near head height and/or peeping into windows with the camera is something that would violate part 2, as the only officially FAA recognized “Community Standards” are those of the AMA, which preclude that type of flying. Note that this is different than flying over at height, which is currently allowed.

DO you now begin to understand the complexity of the law as it relates to flight? You are behaving like those “free citizen” nutcases that think the US government is illegitimate because of some obscure clause in law somewhere. You have latched onto on tiny sliver of the law, have taken it out of context and turned it into something that it simply is not. In other words, You are wrong.

You need to have the humility to understand that because IF you decide to take your internet rantings to the next level and actually act on them you will find yourself arrested VERY quickly. I’m simply trying to help you understand this. Acting on the old “I’m gunna go shoot me down a drone” rant is a one-way ticket to PRISON.

As for the other part of your previous post, I’ve been around since the Fall of 2006. Almost 10 years. I’ve been here longer than anyone on staff excepting AP. Heck, I’ve been here so long I should get my own column. I could call it: “Musings of a Weary Man”. Or maybe “The Runway” and have it be all about “drones”. I could knock out a column or two a month.

Whaddaya say, AP? Need a “Drone Issues” writer?

wearyman on January 15, 2016 at 2:29 PM

unclesmrgol on January 14, 2016 at 10:37 PM

Theoretically, you own as much of the air above the surface as you can reasonably use in connection with the surface. However there isn’t a definite line, and court cases have gone multiple different ways. The law surrounding this is murky at best, downright obscure at worst.

However, one thing is clear: The FAA claims jurisdiction (note that this is different than ownership) of all the air from the ground up as the National Airspace. Currently, the part of the National Airspace that is considered “Public Airways” is from 500 feet up, except around airports, generally speaking. The space below that is “Unregulated Airspace”. This means that you can fly in that space without having to meet the more stringent regulatory requirements for using the “public” space. Technically, BOTH are “Public Airways” in that the general public is free to use them. But above 500 feet you ALSO have to meet certain requirements, depending on your use-case.

wearyman on January 15, 2016 at 2:52 PM

In your first example the cops were morons. That was CLEARLY a “Peeping Tom” style case. No different than putting a camera on a stick and holding it up in front of a window. They just heard the word “drone” and their brains shut off. Pity the people in that town having such low caliber police.

The second example was ALSO a case of “Peeping Tom”. Again, lazy police didn’t want to bother filing a report. In BOTH cases, what the user was doing is already illegal, they had just changed the method of doing it.

wearyman on January 15, 2016 at 2:02 PM
wearyman on January 15, 2016 at 2:29 PM

And you still have no clue that all of your arguments are in support of the peeping toms and trying to justify their right to invade peoples’ privacy – and against the people who want to protect their privacy from them.
You just keep going back to the same bullshiite arguments.

Get a fluking clue you moron – I’ll say it one more time so maybe it sinks in – YOU are the one that keeps arguing in favor of the peeping toms’ rights and against the rest of us saying we have a right to defend our property and privacy.

dentarthurdent on January 15, 2016 at 3:02 PM

dentarthurdent on January 15, 2016 at 3:02 PM

No, I am not. In point of fact I have pointed out that these things are NOT legal, any more than looking through someone’s window with a camera on a stick would be.

I AM however, attempting to clarify the difference between doing that, and simply flying by or hovering over AT HEIGHT. IE: Beyond the range at which the landowner can reasonably (“reasonably” as determined by law, not you.) expect to use the airspace in connection with the land.

This is the REAL issue here. YOU ARE CONFLATING TWO DIFFERENT USES. One is patently illegal: Peeping in windows and flying negligently low. The other is LEGAL: Flying high and out of the way.

I am also pointing out that taking the law into your own hands EVEN WHEN THERE IS A CLEAR VIOLATION is not legal. Provided your own life or the lives of others are not in danger, of course. Somebody being a creepy peeper isn’t a threat to your life. So shooting their property isn’t legal. Sorry. You need to pursue LEGAL angles, and not go the vigilante route.

Also, you NEED to stop the personal insults. Not only does it make you look like a ranting crazy, but I’m pretty sure it’s a violation of the HA terms of use.

wearyman on January 15, 2016 at 3:16 PM

Also, you NEED to stop the personal insults. Not only does it make you look like a ranting crazy, but I’m pretty sure it’s a violation of the HA terms of use.

wearyman on January 15, 2016 at 3:16 PM

You flat out ignore or fail to comprehend what everyone else in here is saying and just keep whining about your airspace rights.
And you keep making yourself look like a moron and a pervert by trying to say you’re not supporting the peeping toms, and then proceeding to justify your own peeping tom-like activities, using the same lame and confused arguments that you keep throwing out.
You are the very definition of a whiny, self-centered, leftist troll.

As most of us in here have said all along – you fly your toy around my house/yard in range of whatever I may have in hand, and you will lose your gawdam toy. Do you understand that?
If you still don’t get it – GFY.

dentarthurdent on January 15, 2016 at 3:33 PM

dentarthurdent on January 15, 2016 at 3:33 PM

Ah.. ok. So you are just a stupid troll who is speaking entirely emotionally and from a position of complete ignorance and lack of understanding of the law. Got it. I’ll place you on my personal “Ignore” list then.

For the more intelligent readers, Don’t listen to dentarthurdent. He really doesn’t understand what he is talking about. Following his advice WILL get you jail time, and possibly sued.

Just as a summary for those that haven’t been able to follow the whole conversation, here are the high points:

1. You have no legal expectation of privacy when outdoors and viewed from the air. If you want privacy, stay indoors or build a roof.

2. Property destruction is illegal in all 50 states. Shooting someone’s drone down WILL get you jail time. Don’t do it. Vigilantism rarely works out well for the vigilante.

3. The FAA has jurisdiction over all of the National Airspace, starting at the ground and reaching to the edge of the Atmosphere.

4. Your ownership of the airspace is very nebulous at best, and tied directly to your own reasonable use of it in connection with the land itself. In other words; about as high as local zoning laws will allow you to build in your area. For most people, this is about 30-50 feet. Anything above that isn’t yours and you can’t claim trespass.

5. Model Aircraft are exempt from most of the rules that govern full scale aircraft, but for the purposes of jurisdiction they are considered aircraft by the FAA.

6. The FAA’s regulation of Model Aircraft is VERY light. As such there are only a few rules surrounding them, and flying high over your property (outside the “useable” limit) is neither prohibited nor illegal.

7. Certain activities, such as flying very low in the vicinity of other people and attempting to peep in windows are illegal to do with Drones, as they are generally illegal to do without drones. As a general rule: If you can’t do it from the ground, you can’t do it with a drone.

8. Keep your flight under 500 feet and outside 5 miles from airports. If your flying area is within 5 miles, please contact and inform the tower and airport operators prior to flying.

9. Always fly safely and with respect to others. If someone asks you not to fly over their property, EVEN IF you are in the right, leave and go fly somewhere else. Flying is supposed to be fun, and getting into conflicts with others isn’t worth it.

10. If you see someone flying over your property, and they are not flying dangerously or in an illegal way but you would still like them to leave, ASK NICELY and most of the time they will leave.

11. Remember: Model RC flying is a sport that is enjoyed by men, boys, girls and women of all ages. You never know who is going to be on the controller, so control yourself and we can all help keep the sport happy, family friendly, and safe.

If you want to learn more about the current state of drone law, I highly recommend the blog “dronelaw.com” or following the twitter handle of Brendan Schulman “@dronelaws” (Note: those two aren’t related) Brendan in particular is a tremendously knowledgeable lawyer that specializes in cases around drones, and is the lawyer that won the “Trappy” case against the FAA.

wearyman on January 15, 2016 at 4:15 PM

Everyone was talking about filming girls with drones. Well here is a video of girls at the beach being filmed by a drone. It was pretty windy and I give credit to the person operating the drone. The wind didn’t seem to matter that much.

It is a safe for work video even though it is of two pretty gals on the beach.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LcBvaAZ3aeM

Dr. Frank Enstine on January 15, 2016 at 6:55 PM

Ah.. ok. So you are just a stupid troll who is speaking entirely emotionally and from a position of complete ignorance and lack of understanding of the law.
wearyman on January 15, 2016 at 4:15 PM

Pretty much everyone here fits the description of complete ignorance on the subject of drones. I’m amazed at your perseverance in trying to explain to people that absolutely don’t want to hear it because they know far more, have rights, or see drones as the hill to die on. Like I’ve said a few times in this thread they are like the anti-gun people. They know deep in their gut they are right and are completely uninterested in listening to the drone nuts that refuse to see it their way. You sir are on the wrong side of history as far as they are concerned. I’m betting many of the anti-drone folks here have even complained about how ignorant the anti-guns folks are.

Dr. Frank Enstine on January 15, 2016 at 7:04 PM

Dr. Frank Enstine on January 15, 2016 at 7:04 PM

Heh. Don’t I know it. But I have to at least try. So much misinformation and hyperbole out there. I’ve gotta try and straighten people out even if it’s hopeless.

The Ironic thing is that “drones” as in FPV flying, have been around since the late 1990’s. Literally millions of flights and thousands of hours of flying were logged by hobbyists without a single incident or accident for 10 YEARS before it hit the public consciousness, and then suddenly “Evil Drones” were the new “2 minutes hate” du-jour.

Personally I put this at the feet of the U.S. Media looking for something, anything to help boost flagging ratings, and deliberately giving it a sinister spin by using the term “Drone” while the Gulf War and US Military Predator drones dropping hellfire bombs were still fresh in the public’s mind.

Combine that with DJI mass-marketing easy to fly multicopters to non-hobbyists who don’t give a rat’s rear end about the safety regimen that the FPV Community had spent 10 years developing, throw in a few incidents of stupid people with more money than sense doing stupid things and you have a recipe for a PR disaster.

Before DJI’s “Phantom Menace” came along the primary talk among us FPVers was how we could use these things for GOOD. Several FPVers had already been heavily involved in Search and Rescue, one of them saved the life of a little girl lost in the woods. He just happened to live in the area, heard about the search, grabbed his Long Range plane and every scrap of flying gear he could cram in his hatchback and went out to help with search and rescue. He found the girl on his first battery, while the pro ground SAR team had been searching the same area for HOURS. I wish I could find the link to the story, it was very inspiring.

But after the Phantom hit the market (followed closely after by others) and non-hobbyists begin derping around and doing stupid crap like flying around airports it’s just been a downhill slide.

To be honest I feel like a soldier fighting a rear guard action. Falling back, falling back again, just trying to keep my right to fly alive. And I haven’t ever done anything unsafe or wrong. Heck, I’m freaking OBSESSED with safety and following the rules. But honest guys like me pay the price because the “Muggles” like dentarthurdent can’t or won’t make a distinction between honest hobbyists and “Bros with Drones”.

wearyman on January 15, 2016 at 11:29 PM

I just paid a municipal ticket originally written as “Criminal property damage” for trimming a neihbor’s branch off my property. My crime was that I didn’t ask.

I won’t ask if a drone is hovering oer my property either. AK time.

psychocyber on January 16, 2016 at 4:35 PM

Make sure you aren’t seen or heard and you probably can get away with it.

jake1246 on January 14, 2016 at 3:14 PM

.
Suppress, Shoot, Shovel, Shut up,

meerbock on January 17, 2016 at 12:21 AM

I wonder if a cobbled together magnetron from a microwave with an aimable wave guide would bring one down by either the overwhelming electromagnetic waves or the heat or the interference with it’s radio?

Might be worth a try.

jake1246 on January 14, 2016 at 5:14 PM

.
Some years ago there were similar gadgets mounted under the hoods of some over the road semis. Your radar detector went off? Push the button on your microwave for a few seconds. Completely smokes the highway patrolman’s little toy. One small problem is that it required either a humongous inverter or a 120 volt generator piggy-backing on the drive belts.
.
Unless you actually set fire to his handheld or dashmount, you’d be long gone before he noticed. PARTICULARLY effective on multi-lane high density interstates where you are just one more vehicle. Now only small town cops use radar. The new methods use lasers. Same theory should work just as well.
.
In re: this application you could simply use the waveguide inside the old microwave. After all, the first micrwave oven had the brand name ‘Amama RadarRange’.

meerbock on January 17, 2016 at 12:45 AM

wearyman on January 15, 2016 at 4:15 PM

.
I have now waded through three farkin’ pages of your carp [sic] and you miss the point entirely. In this forum, with these specific commenters, they are telling you quite clearly that if you are so sure of your position, legally and ethically, just take your $2500 dollar peeping-tom toy and fly it near the houses of any of your critics.
.
Would you really want to bet that much money against a hometown boy who drinks at the VFW or Legion Hall with all of the local cops and judges, against some NON-local troll who is trying to make a legal point by watch your teenage daughters sunbathing?

meerbock on January 17, 2016 at 1:03 AM

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