Drones. Drones! DRONES!! Seems like they’re everywhere. And, of course, anybody can just walk right in to most big box retailers and get one. Everybody’s a “drone pilot” now then, right. NO!!! Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. I try to follow the rules and regulations. Why? Because it’s the law. I’m not trying to be a goody-goody. I just don’t have the money to pay any potential fines that could come with breaking any of the current laws. That’s why it just chaps my a** when others around me blatantly break the rules. Or when others around me disseminate inaccurate information.
The Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival is a big deal in my town. When I first began shooting photography for the festival, I used a drone. Drone (UAS) regulations didn’t exist back then. People (certain specific people as part of a bigger group of people) got bent out of shape and actually posted disclaimers that they were not affiliated with me. I actually got reported and the police shut me down. I have a letter of investigation from the FAA! I should frame it. Just to be clear, this was before any drone regulations existed! I wasn’t endangering anybody and was being as safe as I could be. It was too new, people got freaked out. Oh no, there’s this flying thingy. It’s spying on me! It’s invading my privacy! IT WAS A PUBLIC VENUE DAMMIT!
Fast forward 4 years and now there ARE regulations in place, but it seems that most people just don’t care. Should I give them the benefit of the doubt? Perhaps. But there are channels to check if folks are legit. Most are not. Or at least major parts of their operations are not.
I was told this year that I would be too close to an airport to fly a drone during the Apple Blossom Festival. Nope. Incredibly inaccurate. I fly here all the time and have a working relationship with the airport. It’s class E airspace. We’re not too close to an airport to fly a drone. It’s one thing if a local city/town declares an area a drone-free zone. Localities do that and I would comply. I have before. Laguna Beach in CA has such a declaration so I wasn’t able to fly there. I get it. There is no declaration in Winchester at Apple Blossom. But I was instructed not to fly. Fine, I wasn’t going to fly anyway.
Then I see multiple images from drone flights over the festival. At night! Flights at night are NOT covered by the new Drone certification (license) – Part 107, which is technically CFR 14 Part 107 for folks who don’t know. Flights over people aren’t covered either. You have to get specific permission (a waiver) from the FAA to do those flights. There’s an application process where you have to justify the operations and explain how you’d mitigate the risks involved. The FAA has a website that lists all waivers granted. Guess what, no such waivers exist in this area (at least for the folks who shot the images I saw).
The exception here is if you’re flying for recreation. I never understood this and have never agreed with it. It’s the same airspace – all drones should follow the same rules. All cars follow the same traffic laws. How is this different?!?!?!
WHY DO I EVEN BOTHER?!?!?!?!?!
Rant over, as you were.