1.6 mile flight - then threatened by redneck to shoot down my Solo

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I took a friend and his son out to a local ridge-top on Saturday to show him what camera drone flying was all about. His son is interested in getting into the hobby more and isn't sure what he wants next.

I've also been pushing the limits of my Solo's - seeing how far they can fly with a stable video feed. I have two Solo's and I've done identical mods on each one that include:

MikroTik 800mw Wifi cards
Alfa antennas
Beitian BN-800 GPS (M8N) - with my custom designed mounting fixture
Cirocomm GPS antennas replaced with a Taoglas antenna specifically designed for optimum reception of Glonass satellites
3DR EMI absorber GPS shield

It was a smooth flight (aside from the wind) with 20 to 21 sats locked the entire time, and my friends were impressed with the Solo. My target was a water tower that was 8420 feet away.

Then some redneck shows up and ruins the day... He threatens to shoot down any drone he sees flying anywhere near his house again. I have flown this route about 3 or 4 times over the past few weeks, but always at approx 300ft AGL when passing over his house. I'm surprised he would even notice it. If not for the prop noise drawing his attention to it, I doubt he'd have ever seen it. At that altitude it would be a tiny speck in the sky.
I told him to let me know where he lived and that I'd try to avoid flying over his place again. At that point he didn't want to wait until I landed so we could talk more - he just left in a huff. Not sure what to do at this point. I was able to identify where he lived and recognized his truck in his driveway when I drove past about an hour later.

I discovered by reading online that not only is the act of shooting at ANY aircraft (manned or unmanned - including drones) a federal offense punishable by up to 20 years in prison - but the act of threatening to shoot at any aircraft itself is a federal offense punishable by up to 5 years in prison.
I'm not interested in pursuing this (many people have irrational fears implanted in them by the MSM fake news media today), but I will remind him of those facts it he shows up and makes threats again.

Youtube video here (read the timeline commentary in the description - and select 1080P to see all the details)

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Sadly unless you have a wavier for beyond line of site flying, then he would prevail in the end.
He is wrong, but you left an opening by breaking one of the basic rules.

Not trying to bust your chops, to each their own just some perspective on what can go wrong in these senseless incidents.
If you abide by the rules, then you win every time, but once you step outside then you are open to loss
 
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Then some redneck shows up and ruins the day... He threatens to shoot down any drone he sees flying anywhere near his house again.


That was one paranoid redneck.
 
Several drones have been shot down, and sadly I do not think the FAA has done anything about it......
 
I have been pushing the distance limits too...and I know there is a possibility of this happening to me. I don't fly over private property...my flights are over National Forests or railroad ROWs. Pyrate is right...beyond LOS is a problem in the event of a dispute.

What would cause me a problem where I fly would be hunters or folks participating in illegal activities in the National Forest. I doubt there would be any confrontation...they would just shoot it down. I don't know how I would handle that situation. If I could locate and identity the person the situation might escalate to violence...I would hope not...after all it's just a drone.

Your situation is a little different if you flew over his property...but I certainly do understand your frustration at the "redneck". And I agree that at 300' he shouldn't have been upset. I own about 80 acres and would not be concerned if someone flew a drone at 300' over my property.

People lose all logic where drones are concerned. They're just aerial cameras...not spying/killing machines. Maybe we as drone enthusiast can do a better job of public relations.
 
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Several drones have been shot down, and sadly I do not think the FAA has done anything about it......

Apparently not yet. It seems the law is still trying to catch up.
However, the fact remains that shooting at or even threatening to shoot at any aircraft - including drones is a federal crime.
The act itself is illegal, and has nothing to do with how the drone is being operated. If someone is being legitimately harassed by a drone, they have a right to complain - but never to take matters into their own hands and start blasting away with a firearm.
 
People lose all logic where drones are concerned. They're just aerial cameras...not spying/killing machines. Maybe we as drone enthusiast can do a better job of public relations.

You're certainly correct there. The media has done a fantastic job demonizing small drones. It has definitely been embedded in the popular culture now that quad-copters are somehow universally malevolent. I often wonder what the motivation was for creating such a negative public image of them when light aircraft fly at relatively low altitudes over private property constantly and nobody gives it a second thought.

There are huge inconsistencies here, and the laws are either non-existent, or incredibly vague and left open to local judges to rule in any direction they like.

This is a really big problem for recreational (or any) drone pilots. It's almost as unreasonable to forbid drones from flying over private property as it is to forbid light aircraft from flying over the same space. If general aviation aircraft had to totally avoid flying over private property, they would not be able to operate at all. General aviation aircraft have a very different sound and people have been trained to accept and ignore them as a given.

The lack of clarity in the laws is problematic. There is no clear definition of the minimum altitude that any aircraft can operate at over private property. And with respect to operating UAS's there is absolutely no clear definition as to what constitutes "beyond visual line of sight".
Everyone has different vision capabilities and some would claim the ability to see their aircraft at much greater range than others. It is also highly dependent upon conditions, time of day, lighting, etc.

Until the laws are clarified, and drones gradually gain more acceptance by the public, I think the best thing we can do is try to lay low and operate as invisibly as we can. Operate at the highest (legal) altitude possible, and use low-noise props if available. Unfortunately, operating at higher altitudes can mean greater difficulty in maintaining visual line of sight. We are trapped between a rock and a hard place here.
Smaller and lighter colored drones would also be helpful to remain undetected. The Solo is not very good as a stealth drone with the somewhat larger size, black color, and very noisy props. The prop noise from a Solo is harsh and detectable at a pretty long distance. I also fly a Mavic and it is definitely a lot more stealthy - especially with the new low-noise props.

I've been flying RC for 30+ years, and have built and flown just about every kind of model aircraft there is. Everything from high performance powered gliders (hotliners), large 3D aerobats (80" to 100" wingspan) and up to and including 90 sized RC Helis.
As much as I enjoy flying multi-rotors, I often feel that the popularity of off-the shelf drones that even a monkey can fly (3DR commercial) has been a gigantic detriment to the RC modelling/flying hobby that I've enjoyed for over half of my life. Times have changed for people engaged in the RC flying hobby, and in many ways the changes are not good.
 
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At 3:50 you can see that the water tower is right between two much taller antenna towers. At that distance you run the risk of getting too close to one of those, especially if you were to lose wifi signal.
 
At 3:50 you can see that the water tower is right between two much taller antenna towers. At that distance you run the risk of getting too close to one of those, especially if you were to lose wifi signal.

Yes, those cell towers keep things interesting! Believe me, I'm keenly aware of their presence, and I make absolutely sure I don't let either one of them get between the Solo and my home position in the event of an unanticipated RTH :eek:
 
Yes, shooting down a drone is a federal offense. In North Carolina it can be a $5000 fine (state law) .

But, flying beyond LOS is also a federal offense. Even on a hill, 2 miles away is probably illegal or irresponsible. This is bad for the hobby and the industry. I recommend reading the findings from the Blackhawk incident. I think it is published on the SUAS website.

Flying over private property is not illegal but could be rude. The FAA regulates airspace not people's property.

Now, using cameras while flying over property is where it can be interesting. People have a right to privacy. Privacy laws are different from drone laws. These could be local or federal. North Carolina and likely the courts look at it this way. If you could reasonably see the property from a public location then it is not a privacy issue. Flying over someone's house and taking video would likely be a privacy issue. I know you could do the same thing from an airplane but you would be higher up and in a common place for a human to be. Again in NC, if you publish a video or photo you could be sued and liable at $5000 per photo or video.

I can understand someone (redneck or not) wanting to shoot down a drone if it flew over their house 3 times. Kind of annoying.

The drone laws aren't that vague, they just don't have precedence yet but it's coming. Please fly safe and read the FAA and possibly local rules but remember privacy rules are different and may be your local regulations.
 
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Depending where you are, as airspace is different, it is likely this is "G" airspace, which means that in theory any light aircraft can fly below the 500ft minimum because it is "Sparsely populated". Of course any sane pilot would not normally fly that low because it limits the time you have due to an engine failure and or bird/drone impact etc. My point being that while it is unlikely any private aircraft could fly over the guys property, the only difference between it and a drone is that it is even more unlikely that a private plane would be running a video camera while flying over the property.
 
It was a smooth flight (aside from the wind) with 20 to 21 sats locked the entire time, and my friends were impressed with the Solo. My target was a water tower that was 8420 feet away.

Then some redneck shows up and ruins the day...

Seriously?? Your "target" is over a mile and a half out and you're bragging about it on a public forum??

And the "villain" in your narrative is the "redneck" that took exception to your presence!

REDNECK: (Wikipedia)
...a derogatory term chiefly-but-not-exclusively applied to white Americans perceived to be crass and unsophisticated, closely associated with rural whites of the Southern United States

As for uniform regulations it seems that if one is not part of the solution then they are part of the problem. I would suggest that you're a member of the latter.
 
ON MARCH 7 A NEIGHBOR TOOK 6 SHOOTS AT MY BIRD WITH A 22 RIFLE ,I INFORMED HIM THAT I WAS GIVING HIM A BREAK BY NOT REPORTING THIS TO THE SHERIFFS OFFICE AND THE FAA.I GOT A VIDEO WITH 3 MUZZLE FLASHS AND THE REPORTS FROM THE WEAPON X5 -SO HE DIDNT HAVE A LEG TO STAND ON ,AND THE SHERIFF STOPPED COMING TO MY PLACE FROM REPORTS FROM HIM AND 2 OF HIS FRIENDS .I ENDED UP ON LIVE PD BEHIND THAT SHIT ,WHICH I DIDNT NEED
 
As for those who are slamming me for flying beyond visual line of sight... What exactly is the limit? Exactly. Simply saying "flying beyond where you can clearly see it" is entirely subjective. As I mentioned earlier, there are a huge number of variables that enter into the equation. I had direct line of sight with the Solo during the entire flight - but how well I could actually see it can not be defined. The thing I could see very clearly was the complete absence of any general aviation aircraft. The location I choose to fly from gave me an extremely broad view of the airspace in all directions. If I were flying from my backyard at the same (legal) altitude, my view of the surrounding airspace would be MUCH more restricted.

Also, I suspect that the majority of people here and elsewhere flying Solo's. Phantoms, Mavics, Yuneec's , etc are dependent upon the video down-link, or at least the telemetry for some portion of many of of their flights. Some variations of the drone flying hobby could be viewed as entirely illegal - such as drone racing - because the pilots are NEVER in VLOS with their aircraft. I guess drone racing should be banned and everyone thrown in prison.

Virtually all drones - including the Solo, and especially those from DJI are sold with specifications that claim range far beyond what most would claim is visual line of sight. Why do they work so hard to design a drone that can fly 4.3 miles away and boast about it in their specifications? Seriously, why? Because they know that is what the market wants and that most buyers are going to take advantage of much of that performance.

So go ahead and keep claiming the moral high ground on this issue. Technically you are right, but realistically... I suspect that even some of those who are slamming others who they believe are violating VLOS are also violating it themselves on occasion. Hypocrites.

I've been flying RC for over 30 years, and designing, building and flying a lot of different types of aircraft that are a lot more difficult to fly and a lot more dangerous than a 2 pound quadcopter. I know how to fly safely and minimize risks. But they can never be completely eliminated because of factors beyond your control.

Once any RC aircraft takes to the air, there is no guarantee than some technical malfunction will not cause the aircraft to fly off uncontrollably in any direction and crash into something or someone. The only way to achieve that would be to only fly an RC aircraft in complete isolation - miles away from any other people, structures, vehicles, etc. I'm pretty sure than nobody here does that all of the time.
 
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VLOS as I recall means that the drone is within sight with the naked eye (or prescription eyeware. Binoculars could be used but you must be able to see the drone without them. Flying FPV is allowed but you must be able to fly without them if something were to happen. It is a gray area but you need to think on the side of "what if something were to go wrong". Can I tell which way it's going.

It does sound like you are in a unique situation but that distance would still be questionable. We should all probably be following AMA rules. I would recommend reading the part 107 rules and although they are for commercial use they define a lot of the rules.
 
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VLOS as I recall means that the drone is within sight with the naked eye (or prescription eyeware. Binoculars could be used but you must be able to see the drone without them. Flying FPV is allowed but you must be able to fly without them if something were to happen. It is a gray area but you need to think on the side of "what if something were to go wrong". Can I tell which way it's going.

It does sound like your in a unique situation but that distance would still be questionable. We should all probably be following AMA rules. I would recommend reading the part 107 rules and although they are for commercial use they define a lot of the rules.

Yes, I've reviewed the part 107 rules and gone over the material for several hours in anticipation of perhaps taking the test. However, I don't see much of a market for drone photography/videography in the rural area that I live in. Thirty miles away in State College - maybe. But there are already people there doing it. I've talked to one of them and he says there is still very little commercial demand. Although he has his commercial drone license (and private pilots license), he fly's recreationally most of the time and quite frankly has done things that are considerably more dangerous and irresponsible than I'd ever think about doing. He has posted them on Youtube and that flight has even been on the local news in an attempt to drum up business.

I'm pretty sure the rules for flying beyond VLOS are going to change in the future. The mere existence of the technology and pressure from big financial interests to integrate them into the airspace will force the issue. There is simply way too much money pushing to make this legal. Completely autonomous vehicles, both land and air are coming - soon. One big concern that I have is that hobbyists are going to be shut out. The permits will only be granted to big corporations like Amazon who can afford to pay licensing fees far beyond what an individual can afford. When Amazon drones start buzzing overhead at 300ft AGL nobody is going to be shooting at them - at least not for long. Once a few people are fined/thrown in jail for destroying the property of some politically well connected corporation the shooting will stop.
 
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Seriously?? Your "target" is over a mile and a half out and you're bragging about it on a public forum??

And the "villain" in your narrative is the "redneck" that took exception to your presence!

REDNECK: (Wikipedia)
...a derogatory term chiefly-but-not-exclusively applied to white Americans perceived to be crass and unsophisticated, closely associated with rural whites of the Southern United States

As for uniform regulations it seems that if one is not part of the solution then they are part of the problem. I would suggest that you're a member of the latter.

While I agree with your LOS argument you fail to realize that the angry gentleman wouldn't have been any less angry if KDan had been within those limits. YouTube has plenty of examples of the public disdain for drones even when everything is within the legal boundaries. And yes I know there are also examples where the drone operator is at fault.

I also admit that we as members of this hobby can do a better job of representing the wonderful possibilities of this hobby. For me it's all about the videography...the beauty of the mountains seen from a different perspective for example. I'm not spying on anybody...and I don't think KDan was either.
 
I took a friend and his son out to a local ridge-top on Saturday to show him what camera drone flying was all about. His son is interested in getting into the hobby more and isn't sure what he wants next.

I've also been pushing the limits of my Solo's - seeing how far they can fly with a stable video feed. I have two Solo's and I've done identical mods on each one that include:

MikroTik 800mw Wifi cards
Alfa antennas
Beitian BN-800 GPS (M8N) - with my custom designed mounting fixture
Cirocomm GPS antennas replaced with a Taoglas antenna specifically designed for optimum reception of Glonass satellites
3DR EMI absorber GPS shield

It was a smooth flight (aside from the wind) with 20 to 21 sats locked the entire time, and my friends were impressed with the Solo. My target was a water tower that was 8420 feet away.

Then some redneck shows up and ruins the day... He threatens to shoot down any drone he sees flying anywhere near his house again. I have flown this route about 3 or 4 times over the past few weeks, but always at approx 300ft AGL when passing over his house. I'm surprised he would even notice it. If not for the prop noise drawing his attention to it, I doubt he'd have ever seen it. At that altitude it would be a tiny speck in the sky.
I told him to let me know where he lived and that I'd try to avoid flying over his place again. At that point he didn't want to wait until I landed so we could talk more - he just left in a huff. Not sure what to do at this point. I was able to identify where he lived and recognized his truck in his driveway when I drove past about an hour later.

I discovered by reading online that not only is the act of shooting at ANY aircraft (manned or unmanned - including drones) a federal offense punishable by up to 20 years in prison - but the act of threatening to shoot at any aircraft itself is a federal offense punishable by up to 5 years in prison.
I'm not interested in pursuing this (many people have irrational fears implanted in them by the MSM fake news media today), but I will remind him of those facts it he shows up and makes threats again.

Youtube video here (read the timeline commentary in the description - and select 1080P to see all the details)

To view this content we will need your consent to set third party cookies.
For more detailed information, see our cookies page.
If the "redneck" turned out to be a "yuppie" instead, would it have made things better for you?
 
As for those who are slamming me for flying beyond visual line of sight... What exactly is the limit? Exactly. Simply saying "flying beyond where you can clearly see it" is entirely subjective. As I mentioned earlier, there are a huge number of variables that enter into the equation. I had direct line of sight with the Solo during the entire flight - but how well I could actually see it can not be defined.

I understand your point, but at the same time the FAA rules would seem to be the best possible way to provide for some measure of compliance while addressing flight limits for sUAVs under normal circumstances. IMO a condensed, practical version of the VFR rules for commercial aviation:

Visual line-of-sight (VLOS) only; the unmanned aircraft must remain within VLOS of the remote pilot in command and the person manipulating the flight controls of the small UAS. Alternatively, the unmanned aircraft must remain within VLOS of the visual observer.

At all times the small unmanned aircraft must remain close enough to the remote pilot in command and the person manipulating the flight controls of the small UAS for those people to be capable of seeing the aircraft with vision


The thing I could see very clearly was the complete absence of any general aviation aircraft. The location I choose to fly from gave me an extremely broad view of the airspace in all directions. If I were flying from my backyard at the same (legal) altitude, my view of the surrounding airspace would be MUCH more restricted.

"But officer, I know I was doing 90 in a 60 MPH zone but I was in the middle of nowhere.. or I triple checked and there was absolutely no other traffic around when I went through that red light..."

I'm simply saying that rules are rules. Boasting online about breaking those rules IMO just provides fuel for those opposed to just about any kind of sUAV operations.

Virtually all drones - including the Solo, and especially those from DJI are sold with specifications that claim range far beyond what most would claim is visual line of sight. Why do they work so hard to design a drone that can fly 4.3 miles away and boast about it in their specifications? Seriously, why?

My car's speedometer goes to 100 and yes I can drive at 100 but at the same time I'd need to be prepared to suffer the consequences if observed by the law.

So go ahead and keep claiming the moral high ground on this issue. Technically you are right, but realistically... I suspect that even some of those who are slamming others who they believe are violating VLOS are also violating it themselves on occasion. Hypocrites.

Not claiming any "moral high ground" KDan. And I don't disagree with many of your arguments. No, personally I don't fly beyond VLOS but that's simply because I've not had a reason to do so. I just think that publically bragging about breaking the rules only provides more ammunition for the haters.
 
If the "redneck" turned out to be a "yuppie" instead, would it have made things better for you?

"Redneck" seemed like the most apt description based upon his behavior. We have lots of people who fit the profile here in rural Pennsylvania. I have on occasion behaved in a way to at could justifiably earn the title also. I believe in calling a spade a spade, or whatever. All this political correctness crap is undermining our.... well, lets just leave it there.
 

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