We’ve established that flying a drone over an active fire is not cool (and sometimes illegal), and that shooting down a drone (maybe) flying over your property is also not okay (and sometimes illegal). But what about drones being used in other public spaces? For example, what about flying over a group of people enjoying a sunny day. J
Just for the sake of argument about the proper locations for drones, let us discuss the case of the “Drone Fisherman.” In this example, which happened sometime back in early 2015, a drone operator was flying his DJI Inspire 1 over a pier in Pacific Beach, San Diego. On the pier, in addition to some people walking, was a group of fishermen. One fisherman in particular looks up at the drone and then the video cuts over to the same fisherman, now in the center of the pier, looking up at the drone. After a second, he casts his line up towards the drone and hooks on. As the drone takes off, you can see the line hooked on to it. Then the video cuts out.
There are several things that should be noted about this video. First, it’s posted by the drone operator with a note of, “What a jerk! Gotta admit though, that cast was spot on!” Secondly, that cast deserves a standing ovation. Thirdly, the video cuts in a place so that we don’t know how long the drone was flying around annoying people. Finally, the drone was fine.
The important question is: Who’s the jerk?
This situation doesn’t invoke the same danger reaction as the wildfire situations in California. No one on the pier is doing any lifesaving work and there aren’t any aircraft in the area. It also doesn’t have the same damage factor as the guy who shot down his neighbor’s drone. There was no damage to the UAV and no threat of a wild shot hitting anyone–though I guess a wild cast could have hurt.
In this case, I think a lot of this depends on how low the drone was and how long it spent buzzing around before the fisherman hooked it like a sea robin**.
Drone operators have a duty to use common sense and not annoy people on the ground. You should be able to go fishing or go to the beach without someone filming you from above. The flip side to this is that you don’t get to destroy things that you don’t like. Is it okay to be annoyed that someone is buzzing around? Yes. Is it okay to attempt to destroy the drone? Probably not.
If it’s not posing an immediate harm to you or those around you, your best bet is probably to leave it alone. If you’re a drone operator, don’t abuse it or chances are someone will get mad enough to do something about it.
To answer the question, they’re both being jerks.
How would you have responded? Leave your answer in the comments.
Filed Under: Aerospace + defense