3 Things You Should NOT to Do With Your Drone
The long arm of the law has finally reared it’s head in Deadwood, my friends. With the U.S. Government requiring people to register their recreational drones, it seems the wild west days of UAVs have come to an end. Unfortunately, it comes as no surprise. As the popularity of drones have skyrocketed, irresponsible pilots have been causing more and more trouble.
To help drone users avoid trouble, here’s a handy guide of what NOT to do with your unmanned aerial vehicle:
1. Don’t Break FAA Rules
FAA regulations require UAV operators keep their craft below 400 feet, clear of manned aircraft, and at least five miles from any airport in the vicinity. While some pilots may claim ignorance of the FAA rules, many of the companies that make and sell drones (including Drone World and Blade) specifically spell out these guidelines on both their sites and in product manuals.
Despite regulations, there have been numerous episodes of hobby drones coming dangerously close to commercial airlines, including a recent incident where both JetBlue and Delta flights came within 100 feet of a drone near JFK International Airport. While this may not seem like a big deal, if a drone were to collide with a plane, there could be catastrophic consequences, including loss of life.
2. Don’t Interfere with Fire & Rescue
Rubbernecking is a normal human response to disaster. It’s hard to look away from mangled cars on the freeway or raging house fires. However, the minute this intense need to gawk gets in the way of those trying to save people in need, we have a serious problem.
This past June, firefighters battling a wildfire in the San Bernadino Valley in California were hindered by a set of drones hovering above the fire. The UAVs directly interfered with the aircraft being used to drop flame-retardant, and as a result, the aircraft had to be grounded.
While the owners of the California drones were never found, others have had to face the full force of the law. Kele Stanley of Ohio was arrested after his drone interfered with a medical helicopter trying to reach the scene of a car accident. Remy Castro and Wilkins Mendoza were both arrested when their drones caused a NYPD helicopter to swerve to avoid collision. Because of increasing numbers of these incidents, it’s not surprising the government is now requiring pilots to register their crafts — it will make it that much easier to find them if they obstruct fire and rescue efforts.
3. Don’t Harass Wildlife
There’s no arguing that nature and wildlife are a fascinating study. We’ve been taking pictures of both for as long as we’ve had cameras with which to do so. But since photographing wild animals can be more than a little dangerous, many drone pilots have taken to using their craft for this risky endeavor. And there’s nothing wrong with that — unless you’re doing it just being a jackass.
In April of 2014, volunteers at Zion National Park witnessed a drone separating several young bighorn sheep from the adults and scattering the rest of the herd. Just a few months later, a visitor to Yellowstone crashed a drone into the Grand Prismatic Spring — leaving park officials worried letting it remain there could damage the spring, as could efforts to remove it. Last month, an Queensland resident spotted a UAV hovering near an osprey nest — forcing the parents away from it and their baby.
Unfortunately, as with all good things, a few bad apples can easily spoil the bunch. While registering UAVs might be a bit of a hassle, responsible pilots who follow FAA guidelines (and use a little common sense) have nothing to worry about.
About the Author
Liz Greene hails from the beautiful city of trees, Boise, Idaho. She’s a lover of all things geek and is happiest when cuddling with her dogs and catching up on the latest Marvel movies. You can follow her on Twitter @LizVGreene
Header image credit: Flickr