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A Droning Rant

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Drones are the new craze in aerial photography and aerial fun!

I should know. I am now the proud owner of the Mavic Pro, a foldable smart drone that can be taken with me anywhere! I must say, after looking into some of the regulations, they are absolutely crazy. Especially the commercial use ones. Okay okay, I get if someone is flying a predator drone around they need to know some of this stuff, but for your average hobbyist/photographer, 99.99% of this is useless. I get the common sense safety, such as not flying in the flight path of actual aircraft, not flying low over people’s houses, not flying over heavily populated areas (to a certain extent). But some of the stuff I see is just about control and money, IE the ban in National Parks. C’mon now. Anyway. Beyond that, I don’t see any problem with people flying below the treetops or even above and under the 400-foot limit wherever. I’m all for freedom of flight, don’t knock it till you try it.

With some of the above, I wanted to clear some fine points up:

  • Should I worry about my privacy from Drones?
    • I’d say no. Unless it’s flying in your backyard peeking in your windows. If you’re not in your house or yard, you have ZERO right to privacy.
  • There’s a low flying drone over my house, I don’t like it.
    • Perception is everything. My first question is how low? Remember, drones can’t see through your roof, so unless it’s in your backyard looking through your windows or 5 feet over your skylight, your privacy is likely safe. If it’s above palm tree height, I wouldn’t worry even if you are outside, it’s not likely going to catch much. While it’s trespassing to go over someone’s house, it’s somewhat up to interpretation. For me, I could care less if the drone cruises past my house above the trees, why? Because Bing Maps and Google Maps both have aerial photography.
    • Second question is where is the camera looking? A lot of drones have cameras on them, and if they don’t and they’re flying over your yard, then there’s nothing to worry about. If it’s low enough and you can see which way the camera is facing, you may be able to see what it’s looking at. Most of the DJI models have quite wide cameras, which means that the farther away they are, they aren’t going to see fine details unless they’re close. So of the camera is looking straight ahead and not down, then you likely have nothing to worry about.
    • Third question is why it’s hovering and how long. There are a lot of little functions on my drone that take me a minute or two to change around. Some I may change in mid flight, meaning the drone hovers wherever it is. If it’s hovering for a moment and moves along, someone is probably just playing with settings. Really though, assume you’re the drone pilot going for a cruise, you happen to fly through your neighborhood, you’re bound to pass over houses, it’s a given. Assuming you’re high enough, you’re not gonna catch more than Bing or Google.
    • In the below photo. I have mine sitting out in the corner of my yard, about 50 feet away. Just for an example.
  • How well can a drone see at night?
    • Not as well as you would think. Unless there’s a lot of ambient light, and the drone is sitting perfectly still. Drone cameras are good, but they still have to obey the laws of physics and photography. For a drone that’s moving, they aren’t going to catch much. For a drone that’s still, I suppose it depends on the operator skill and the model they’re using.
  • Can I shoot a drone down if it flies over my property?
    • No and no. For one, the pilot flying over your house is potentially trespassing, I’d presume depending on the height and how long it stayed there. Not typically a huge crime. Same as the neighborhood kids jumping your fence for a ball. Shooting off a firearm in city limits tends to be frowned upon and you’d likely be charged with criminal damage, and in Arizona, given the cost of the more common DJI drones, would be class 6 felony, plus whatever civil suit the pilot brings against you. It’s a better idea to ignore it or call law enforcement if it’s low enough to actually pose a threat of privacy invasion.
  • How loud are they?
    • Up close, mines’s about as loud as a fan on high. Past 10 feet, you barely hear it.
  • Do you have to notify the FAA whenever you fly?
    • No. The FAA just requires any drone over half a pound is registered. If within 5 miles of an airport, the pilot must notify the airport they intend to fly.

 

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