When Local Authorities Don't Know the Laws

Jul 5, 2016
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Imagine you were flying in a wide open non-restricted area and a Sheriff approached you and said "You're not allowed to fly that here... No flying on public lands." Is there a way you could present him with the correct information without seeming confrontational? Is there something one can download and print that would show that at the current location flying is permissible and not all public lands are off limits. Is hivemapper the best 'evidence' or can you recommend something better... thanks!

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Premium Pilot
Sep 28, 2015
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San Francisco, CA
The best answer is to tell him that my drone didn't warn me for any NFZ and if this is restricted area I will move it away. Ask him further where the local restriction ends.

No point in confronting without first asking for the options.

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Jan 4, 2016
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First thing you do, if currently flying is explain you are going to land and then you will have a chat with him/her (move away from them and/or ask that they move so you maintain your 30m clearance from persons not directly involved while landing).

Politely explain that you believe you are complying with regs and ask them to explain what they believe the issue to be.

Don't be suprised if they aren't sure what the issue is. I have had a council ranger approach me and tell me I couldn't fly. He seemed quite anxious. I later learnt he had responded to a citizen complaining in the car park about a drone flying close to girls on the beach filming them. I was amused at his reaction after I landed and we both watched another phantom buzz past on the beach. My phantom was about 1km out over open land when he approached. He said he didn't think I should be flying and wandered off to find the other operator. When he returned I spoke to him and he said he didn't think it was ok to fly there but wasn't sure if the rules. Suggested I make enquiries with council. He said he couldn't find the person in control of the 2nd phantom.

On enquiring with council I was told I couldn't fly anywhere because of safety and privacy issues. I was asked if I could be fined and if so under what ordinance. They had no responses.

I haven't had an issue since. There usually are very few people around when I fly and I make sure I don't attract any attention by flying near anyone. I have learnt the best trick is to launch from an inconspicuous area, get up and out fast and be efficient with you packing up and leaving. If you can take off and land from private property (with owner consent) even better.
May 16, 2014
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Sydney Australia
I had a similar incident with the poster above..

It's hard to argue with authorities and people who think they have authority. I still It is best to move even if you are in the right as for now as drones have negative connotations in every community. Any one who doesn't own a drone seems to have prejudice and think they are all evil until they own one.

I was at Sculptures by the Sea last week, where artworks were displayed at on a public beach and on coastal legdes. I decided to arrive before sunrise and get a few happy snaps of an artwork that was in accessible and far from people. After 5 minutes of aerial, the staff/guard told me land. It's 530am and there isn't a council person at work, there was no signs, no people to endanger and its a public beach. I could of argued but I decided not fly as I don't want Australia to become like Sweden where its illegal to use a selfie stick because it's technically a form of surveillance.

After getting some grounded snaps, another 3 phantoms whizzed. I saw the guard trying to track down the users. You could only spot users by the white controllers, or wait till they land.

Moral here is to take advantage of the light bridge system and camo your controller.

Another tip is to look like you have authority. Wear a glow safety vest. For some silly reason, it looks like you are serious. I happen to forgot that I hade one the car.
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