Guy detained for flying near NFL draft


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Here is a news article about a guy that was detained for flying a drone near the NFL draft that happened in Philadelphia.

He should have been more careful checking for temporary flight restrictions or nearby events, but it seems like the police really didn't know how to respond to him. According to the article he might be facing reckless endangerment charges, but it wasn't that clear.

Regardless of the exact details of this case, it brings up a very real issue...how will local police deal with the massive amounts of drones both hobby and commercial that are taking to the skies. FAA rules are administrative, should they make their own drone laws?

For me it seems reasonable what San Diego did. From how I understand it they basically took the FAA rules and adopted the into local law, that way they had a clear legal basis to fine drone pilots. I wonder what the UAV Coach community thinks?

 

 

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The FAA is the regulatory body that governs the airspace, yes. But they are stretched really thin in the enforcement arena. I think San Diego's mirroring of Federal statute in their own laws is a smart move. The Federal government should be given the opportunity to pursue legal action first, because they are the governing body. Barring that, if they decline then it becomes a state or local matter. More enforcement is, in this case, not a bad idea IMO as long as the regulations are being enforced.

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It's been a while since I read the article, but isn't the issue here that the guy didn't actually break any rules?  He wasn't flying recklessly, didn't fly over people, he was outside the NFZ, and he wasn't doing it commercially?  Or did I miss something?

Also, if people want to tighten regulations on flying drones, shouldn't the requirements for issuing TFR's also be examined?  Why was there a TFR around this event in the first place?  If the standard is becuase there's a crowd of people at an event then eventually we won't be able to fly anywhere.  

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There was no TFR for this event in the first place.  The organizers (the NFL I assume) had simply posted signs that attendees were not permitted to have or use drones - that's it. He was not at or in the event at all.  This is all about ignorance and fear of an unknown quantity.  I understand that the cops are trying to do what they think is their job but they're just not sure what that is!  My gut feeling is that this whole local vs the FAA will end badly with many communities placing unnecessary restrictions on drone use.  I hope I'm very wrong.

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Unfortunately I think your probably more right than wrong.  

I have suggested this elsewhere, but general aviation has AOPA, a PAC to help protect the civil liberties and private ownership of airplanes.  Drone operators need a similar type of organization to help organize the industry and protect our rights at all levels of the regulatory process. 

Prior to the NPRM for rule107 we started ACUAS.org. Getting people to actually do something about this is next to impossible.  Unfortunately we are going to loose the right to fly and people won't become engaged with the debate until after the rules are in place and by then it will be too late.

We have become a society where everyone knows how to do everything but no one has actually done anything...

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I'm reminded of the world of Amateur Radio.  Founded in 1914, The Amateur Radio Relay League (ARRL) has 161,000 members and they have been a strong voice in front of the FCC.  Their legal folks have fought many issues and won many.  Amateur Radio operators are non-commercial but nevertheless their voice is heard loudly by FCC.  In addition, more the most part they are a self-policing community which has worked quite well for them.  We need something similar.  AMA represents the hobby side of drone usage and did so favorably prior to Part107's  implementation.  In fact, hobbyists in some ways have more leeway that we do.  Part 107 certificate holders have

Frustration without Representation.

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46 minutes ago, Av8Chuck said:

It's been a while since I read the article, but isn't the issue here that the guy didn't actually break any rules?  He wasn't flying recklessly, didn't fly over people, he was outside the NFZ, and he wasn't doing it commercially?  Or did I miss something?

Also, if people want to tighten regulations on flying drones, shouldn't the requirements for issuing TFR's also be examined?  Why was there a TFR around this event in the first place?  If the standard is becuase there's a crowd of people at an event then eventually we won't be able to fly anywhere.  

I can only base my opinion on the information I have available. As such, under our state privacy law, depending upon whether or not he distributed or publicly used the images, he could be in violation of the law whether or not he was physically on the property or not. It does not make any difference if he was flying for fun or commercially. It doesn't matter if there was or was not a TFR in effect at the time. The next hurdle is to prove he did it with malice or criminal intent (good luck there) in order for it to stand up in court.

Like it or not, this is not a case where it is easier to ask forgiveness rather than permission. A little work up front with the property owner or club and this would be a non-issue. Again, this is my opinion. 

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23 minutes ago, R Martin said:

I can only base my opinion on the information I have available. As such, under our state privacy law, depending upon whether or not he distributed or publicly used the images, he could be in violation of the law whether or not he was physically on the property or not. It does not make any difference if he was flying for fun or commercially. It doesn't matter if there was or was not a TFR in effect at the time. The next hurdle is to prove he did it with malice or criminal intent (good luck there) in order for it to stand up in court.

Like it or not, this is not a case where it is easier to ask forgiveness rather than permission. A little work up front with the property owner or club and this would be a non-issue. Again, this is my opinion. 

Sure, your point doesn't appear to be about the drone but about the privacy concerns which aren't specific to the technology gathering the images.  A person could be just as guilty climbing a ladder and using a telephoto lens.

So drones don't require any specific regulation as it relates to privacy do they?  And regarding privacy in this situation what reasonable expectation of privacy can people have attending such a public event?   Like you, I wasn't there and have no idea what really happened, but knowing the NFL I'm sure plenty of news photographers etc where present and this has more to do with restricting access to only those that were licensed to be there.  Unfortunately for the NFL they can't hold an event in public and then restrict the public from photographing it.  

I don't want to debate the privacy laws but the way this article was written makes it sound like this guy didn't do anything wrong.  One of the things we constantly argued at ACUAS.org was that in the absent of law, its not illegal to do something.  Since there was no law at the time against commercial drone operations, how could it be illegal?  We need an organization that can help operators who get caught in this kind of political quagmire, that represents the interests of the commercial users, because most of them won't have the time or resources to defend themselves.  

 Its not OK for law enforcement to detain this guy, threaten to confiscate his equipment and then accuse him of reckless endangerment, kind of the FAA's catchall and the go "Oops, my bad."  

 

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35 minutes ago, Av8Chuck said:

... but the way this article was written makes it sound like this guy didn't do anything wrong.  One of the things we constantly argued at ACUAS.org was that in the absent of law, its not illegal to do something.  Since there was no law at the time against commercial drone operations, how could it be illegal?  We need an organization that can help operators who get caught in this kind of political quagmire, that represents the interests of the commercial users, because most of them won't have the time or resources to defend themselves.

Who knows. I wasn't there and that makes me rely on the credibility of the person who wrote the story. All I'm saying is that a little face time with the owner/club/team representative et al and explaining what the person was going to do and how he was going to use it would probably have averted the whole fiasco.

You've got to stay ahead of the bus or it runs you over. It really doesn't take a lot of extra time and the waivers that the locals sign covers me. I also have my CoAs on file with the local PD and inform the dispatchers when I am flying too. The more people know about where you are flying and how you are using it (and how you aren't using it) the less likely that you are going to have problems.

I'm probably in the minority but I believe that you can get what you want and what you need but it takes a little more work up front rather than trying to take shortcuts. 

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I'm not disagreeing with you, if you need permission then get permission.  But in this case, again its all anecdotal, I'm not sure he needed to get permission.  

The NFL has a right to copyright their games because they hold them in private stadiums, they license the footage to broadcaster's so they can restrict the usage of the footage that they paid for, they trademark team logos etc..  In this case they were apparently holding an event in a venue where people were gathered outside, in the public domain, this guy had the right to photograph that.  The fact that he used a drone is irrelevant.  

So who do you ask for permission?  The NFL does not have the right to grant permission of a public event.  The owner of the building the event is taking place can't restrict you from taking pictures of it as long as the photographer is on public property while taking the pictures, and the FAA has provided the rules that as long as he followed them is allowed to photograph the event and the guidelines if he were a hobbyist.

If you would have asked someone from the NFL for permission and they said no, what would you do?  In this case they didn't have the right to say no.  If you asked the police, they would have to refer to Rule107 which you don't need permission, you just need to follow.  So this isn't an issue of asking for forgiveness, he had the right to do what he did.  

And that isn't anecdotal, if he would have violated any of what I've mentioned he would have been arrested or issued a citation.  But in the end he wasn't.

Something was going on in the background of what this guy was doing, he didn't break any laws and its unreasonable that he would be expected to ask for permission when he has as much right to do what he was doing as the NFL had in putting on the event.  

Why should it take more work up front to get permission to shoot aerial than it does from the person on the ground shooting with a camera or cell phone from the sidewalk?  Drone operators are not second class citizens and we don't want to be treated like one.  

   

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Last week I was setting up to take some marketing photos for my company. It was planned to take pictures from a public park in a location that would be class g and flight under part 107 rules. I did some basic research and determined no local regulations would prevent me from launching at this locatoin. Regardless, my boss asked, did we check with client A about this? While I said no, in my head I'm thinking, I don't need to because I'm in the right to do so. However, when it comes to on-going, positive client relationships, it can't hurt. Sure enough, client A said something about some local ordinance that would prevent or prohibit this flight. However after checking with coast guard, local PD, park services, etc. I found that my original assessment was adequate. After informing client A of this information, they wanted a verbal phone call. In the end, client A agreed with our original assessment and simply wanted more information about our plans.

If this guy who was detained had done something similar, he might have averted the whole thing. Sometimes, paranoia goes a long way...

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@Steve Bennett Do you often run into situations where clients are worried about local laws.

Everyone else...your comments were great, got me thinking about a lot of things.

Did everyone ever here follow up news if they guy was actually charged with anything. All the news I saw made it sound like they just detained him...threatened a charge of reckless endangerment and then let him go.

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On 5/16/2017 at 0:29 PM, Steve Bennett said:

Last week I was setting up to take some marketing photos for my company. It was planned to take pictures from a public park in a location that would be class g and flight under part 107 rules. I did some basic research and determined no local regulations would prevent me from launching at this locatoin. Regardless, my boss asked, did we check with client A about this? While I said no, in my head I'm thinking, I don't need to because I'm in the right to do so. However, when it comes to on-going, positive client relationships, it can't hurt. Sure enough, client A said something about some local ordinance that would prevent or prohibit this flight. However after checking with coast guard, local PD, park services, etc. I found that my original assessment was adequate. After informing client A of this information, they wanted a verbal phone call. In the end, client A agreed with our original assessment and simply wanted more information about our plans.

If this guy who was detained had done something similar, he might have averted the whole thing. Sometimes, paranoia goes a long way...

I realize most of my analogies are terrible BUT have you guys ever driven through a neighborhood where young families have put out roadside signs that say "Slow down children playing?"  No one wants to hurt children, as long as I drive the posted speed limit I don't have to stop and get their permission to drive through their neighborhood.  Nor am I required to drive slower than the speed limit.  Do the parents have the right to put up those signs? Technically they don't and it can, and has been, argued that your more likely to hit a child while reading the sign.  Do I slow down when I see those signs, sure why not. But I'm only required to obey the speed limit and those signs don't absolve the parents from keeping their children from playing in the street. 

My point is that we have rights, there are laws that govern those rights and as long as we follow the law we don't need to appease people who don't know or understand the laws.  In fact I think it makes it worse if you do.    

Steve, if I understand your example your explaining the rules to your client, that's different.  When we survey large construction sites we attend the morning "tailgate" safety briefing to inform everyone that we'll be flying and how to be safe around the drone.  We do this because there's a potential that we'll be flying directly over them and are required to do so as part of Rule107, they have safety equipment and need to know how to react to a potentially dangerous situation.  There's often "that guy" who's in the cab of an earth mover who say's during the meeting that "he doesn't want the drone to fly directly over him" and I tell him to take it up with the site manager who told him to "wait over there until we're finished, without pay."  That doesn't make me the jerk, I have a job to do, just like the crane operator for example and I don't need his permission to do it.  

The earthmover guy grumbled a bit and went about his day as normal.  Then during lunch he came over to watch what we were doing.  I took him and the site manager into the parking lot and gave them the beating of their lives... Just kidding.  I showed them how to fly a MAVIC and let them fly it.  So you can be "the nice guy" and still stand up for your rights.  

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33 minutes ago, Av8Chuck said:

Steve, if I understand your example your explaining the rules to your client, that's different.  When we survey large construction sites we attend the morning "tailgate" safety briefing to inform everyone that we'll be flying and how to be safe around the drone.  We do this because there's a potential that we'll be flying directly over them and are required to do so as part of Rule107, they have safety equipment and need to know how to react to a potentially dangerous situation.  There's often "that guy" who's in the cab of an earth mover who say's during the meeting that "he doesn't want the drone to fly directly over him" and I tell him to take it up with the site manager who told him to "wait over there until we're finished, without pay."  That doesn't make me the jerk, I have a job to do, just like the crane operator for example and I don't need his permission to do it.  

The earthmover guy grumbled a bit and went about his day as normal.  Then during lunch he came over to watch what we were doing.  I took him and the site manager into the parking lot and gave them the beating of their lives... Just kidding.  I showed them how to fly a MAVIC and let them fly it.  So you can be "the nice guy" and still stand up for your rights.  

That's all I'm saying. You can get ahead of the problem so it isn't a problem or you can deal with the fallout afterwards. I have, and always will, be on the leading edge and head problems off before they start. A whole lot easier to deal with that way...

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In the case of the NFL guy, he didn't do anything wrong and there probably wasn't anyone he could have asked.  It's a situation where what do you do if you  ask and someone say's no?  

We all have our way of doing business, it's not one way or the other but I think there's an important point in this.  The FAA went through the NPRM process to create rule107 which, as long as we follow the rule gives us the right to not have to ask.  If you do ask, your setting precedence, your relinquishing your right to do your job.  

This really is not an issue of ask for forgiveness afterwards.  This guy didn't do anything wrong and asking people who are not authorized to grant him permission would have only made it worse.    

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I have to say that I agree 100% with @Av8Chuck on this.  We all worked hard, studied, paid for a course in some cases, paid to take the exam, and as Chuck said "as long as we follow the rule gives us the right to not have to ask".  The FAA spent a lot of time on this and in many cases, they fought big entities who were not in favor of us having these drone privileges.  Next time you fly on a commercial aircraft, before departure make sure the Captain comes back to your seat to review the flight plan he has filed with ATC ---right!

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I agree, many of the large commercial customers are as worried about PR as they are about safety.  

During the NPRM process leading up to rule 107 there was a lot of debate that speculated commercial operations would be higher risk because operators and customers would take more chances to gather the data.

I think the opposite is true.  Our customers are very risk averse.  It doesn't mean they don't ask us to do things that are challenging or higher risk, but generally they ask because they don't understand the risks.  Once you explain it to them, I've never had a customer insist on doing something we've recommended against and they seem truly grateful for the heads up.

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1 minute ago, Av8Chuck said:

I agree, many of the large commercial customers are as worried about PR as they are about safety.  

During the NPRM process leading up to rule 107 there was a lot of debate that speculated commercial operations would be higher risk because operators and customers would take more chances to gather the data.

I think the opposite is true.  Our customers are very risk averse.  It doesn't mean they don't ask us to do things that are challenging or higher risk, but generally they ask because they don't understand the risks.  Once you explain it to them, I've never had a customer insist on doing something we've recommended against and they seem truly grateful for the heads up.

That was very well said and I couldn't agree more! The riga-ma-roll I had to go through just with my own internal legal department was more challenging and took longer than studying for and passing the P107 exam!

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12 hours ago, Steve Bennett said:

That was very well said and I couldn't agree more! The riga-ma-roll I had to go through just with my own internal legal department was more challenging and took longer than studying for and passing the P107 exam!

Same here. At least the fallout from it was that general council realized that having an aviation attorney on staff might be a good idea considering the diverse mix of users here on campus and the many applications that faculty, staff and students perceive as possible. Risk management jumped on-board at the direction of a VP and is in the process of creating and validating a unified policy for use by everyone as well as an application process you need to complete and be approved on (to make sure that you are in compliance with the rules and regs) prior to flight. And finally, instead of having to shoulder the cost of insurance by myself, we are getting a university policy that everyone contributes to which is going to save me a lot. Now if we could just get a campus-wide 333 to simplify the waiver issue.... 

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