You may have seen in the news recently that drone users may have to start registering their aircrafts with the Federal Government. This includes the remote controlled, relatively small crafts for recreational use. The FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) said this about the issue: "Flying unmanned aircraft in violation of the Federal Aviation Regulations is illegal and can be dangerous," FAA Administrator Michael Huerta said earlier this month. "We have the safest airspace in the world, and everyone who uses it must understand and observe our comprehensive set of rules and regulations." The FAA proposed a 1.9 million dollar fine to an aerial photography firm that took pictures above New York and Chicago. With all the hoopla surrounding this, we decided to take a look at some of the weirdest, craziest, insert whatever adjective you want, arrests having to do with drones in recent history.
1. At the US Open this past September, a man was arrested for flying a drone into a small seating area. The man, a 26 year old New York City teacher, was arrested for reckless endangerment, reckless operating of a drone, and operating a drone in a New York city public park outside of prescribed areas. This took place just after Senator Chuck Schumer called New York City the wild, wild, west for commercial and hobby drones--a bit of foreshadowing.
2. This next arrest happened this past August, before the drone was able to even do what the arrestees had planned. Two people were caught trying to smuggle drugs, tobacco and pornography into a Maximum Security Prison in Maryland. Listen, I know some drones are small but even if they were able to get the drone off the ground before getting caught, I find it hard to believe that it would make it to the intended target/s
3. This next arrest wasn’t at the hands of the drone operator, but instead a local Kentucky man who saw the drone flying overhead. This past July, a man took a shotgun and shot down a drone after his kids alerted him of the aerial vehicle. The man was charged with first degree criminal mischief and first degree wanton endangerment. The man said “Everyone I have spoken to, including police, have said they would do the same thing,”yet he still got arrested.
4. Everyone in Hollywood is trying to make a name for themselves..this was probably not how this drone user wanted to do so. A man in Hollywood was arrested for flying his drone 50 feet from an LAPD helicopter that was searching for a suspect. This is the first time that a drone has come in such close proximity with an LAPD helicopter. This led to the search going from the original suspect to the drone user, who was eventually found and arrested in a Rite Aid parking lot.
5. “I’m not a peeping tom” said the man flying a drone outside of multiple patient's’ windows at a hospital in upstate New York. Granted, his defense seems semi-valid (he was apparently getting some shots for promotional material) but nonetheless that is a creepy thing for anyone to see outside of their window, let alone their hospital room window. The man was charged with unlawful surveillance in the second degree. His lawyer said that this was the first prosecution in US history for a person using a drone and accused of unlawful surveillance.” Well hey, at least he made history?
Drone related arrests have been all over the news recently and that doesn't seem to be slowing down. Cities are already planning for future events and imposing their own drone laws just in case. Santa Clara, home of the San Francisco 49ers and home of the 2016 Super Bowl, imposed a half-mile no fly zone around the stadium in hopes to keep drones from disrupting the big game. Drone regulations aren't completely halting the purchase or use of drones, and that is why these city-self imposed laws and regulations for events so far in the future seems necessary.