You'd better stop flying your drones near military bases

The “coolness factor” of drone technology has attracted a lot of interest in everything from delivery services (Amazon, Domino’s Pizza) and aerial photography to personal transportation, assuming you’re really daring. But the largest number of sales in recent years are to private hobbyists, so there are drones taking flight all over the country. And in another case of this is why we can’t have nice things, too many people have been flying their tiny, remote control robots over airports and military bases, leading to concerns of a looming disaster or the compromising of classified information. On the latter score, the military was authorized last month to do something about it. If you fly your drone too close to one of our military bases, they’re probably going to shoot it down. (Reuters)

The Pentagon has given more than 130 U.S. military bases across the United States the green light to shoot down private and commercial drones that could endanger aviation safety or pose other threats.

The number of uncrewed aircraft in U.S. skies has zoomed in recent years and continues to increase rapidly – along with concern among U.S. and private-sector officials that dangerous or even hostile drones could get too close to places like military bases, airports and sports stadiums.

While the specific actions that the U.S. military can take against drones are classified, they include destroying or seizing private and commercial drones that pose a threat, Pentagon spokesman Navy Captain Jeff Davis told reporters on Monday.

I suppose I don’t have a problem with this. You can’t fly private aircraft of other types into the airspace of an airport or military installation without permission so it shouldn’t be any different with drones. What’s left out of the report is precisely how they will be bringing them down, however. There are clearly high-tech solutions available out there which are probably preferable to filling the sky with lead. (Some bases are quite close to residential or business areas.) There’s an Idaho company, Black Sage, that’s selling a drone zapping gun which claims to be able to “disorientate unwanted drones by zapping them with radio beams—either bringing them down or sending them scurrying away, back to where they first took off.” Sounds pretty fancy and likely not lethal to civilians in the area, assuming it works.

Of course, if the military can shoot down drones over their bases, you should still be able to do the same with any snoops looking around your back yard or in your windows. Can’t afford a radio frequency drone zapper? I see that there are some less-than-lethal technology options available to civilians which might be both affordable and effective. You can get one of those bean bag guns that the police have for riot control for a couple hundred bucks. I’m not sure what the range is on them, but they could probably knock down a drone while getting you in a lot less trouble if the bean bag comes down on your neighbor’s head.

There’s always the somewhat lower tech solution of a standard shotgun round firing bird shot. Remember that guy in Kentucky who shot down a drone he said was spying on his 16 year old daughter? Turns out he wound up being on solid legal footing and he had the charges against him dropped. (Before you start taking legal advice from me, however, you may want to contact your local sheriff’s office and find out what the laws are about discharging a firearm within a certain distance of any other buildings or residences.)

We’ll close with a video from Inside Edition just in case you want to know what the shotgun solution looks like both from the ground and the drone’s eye view. It’s only a few minutes long. Enjoy.