Earlier this year a New York man allegedly took out his shotgun and fired upon a drone flying over his house. The drone owners followed the drone to its last recorded GPS location. That led them to …
Earlier this year a New York man allegedly took out his shotgun and fired upon a drone flying over his house. The drone owners followed the drone to its last recorded GPS location. That led them to the man, who told them he shot down their drone because he believed they weren’t allowed to fly over his home.
The drone pilots were part of a pet-rescue group helping someone find their lost dog, and the alleged shooter is now being charged with third-degree criminal mischief.
There are dozens of cases across the country in which people have shot down drones, and those people are being charged with crimes. In some cases, the vandals are facing civil suits as well.
A lot of people are under the misconception that they own the airspace over their homes. In actuality, the airspace above your home is part of the national airspace, which is controlled by federal law. While most people destroying drones are charged under state laws regarding vandalism, shooting down a drone is a violation of federal law 18 U.S.C. § 32.
Many folks in Wyoming are under the impression that drones are up to no good. But besides finding lost pets, drones are used beneficially and safely in agriculture, real estate and storm damage surveys.
Some people fear drone pilots will use the drones to invade their privacy. While someone can use a drone to look through people’s windows, it’s not a practical way to snoop. The scream of the drone blades makes it hard to look in on people without them hearing. A peeping Tom would have a lot more success sneaking around on foot and using a cellphone to video through a window, and there are laws against such activities.
The FAA also recently updated the rules for recreational drone use, requiring drones to be in sight of the drone pilot. (Previously, only licensed commercial drone pilots had to follow this rule.) So where there’s a drone, the pilot should be nearby.
There are smarter, more legal responses should you find yourself with a nuisance drone around your home. The first is what people typically do when they have problems with neighbors’ activities: Rather than destroy their property with firearms, talking is a much better option.
If someone is using a drone in ways that are inappropriate or clearly creating safety hazards, contacting law enforcement is an option. Besides noise ordinances, there may be other laws that apply to a nuisance drone. Complaints to the FAA may yield results in some cases. This will lead to much better outcomes than taking the law into your own hands.
It’s also important for all drone pilots to realize these aren’t toys. Use them safely and obey the law. Just because flying around someone’s home is not illegal doesn’t mean you shouldn’t respect people’s privacy.