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Harrassed by off-duty cop while flying Mavic Pro
1609 27 2018-3-14
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Matthew Eccles
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United Kingdom
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Got my Mavic two days ago, launched it from a public footpath today to get some shots of a historic house nearby (I'm in the UK). As I landed a guy comes up to me saying you realise you're flying over my private property etc. etc. I let him know that legally I'm allowed to fly 50 metres or above over any land, he said that's not the case its an invasion of privacy and with that whipped out a police ID badge. I showed him the Drone code (the laws governing drone flying by civilians in the UK) on my iPad stating what I just said, then he goes and looks something up on his phone, after a few minutes says yeah, you're not allowed within 50 metres of private property. I didn't know what to say, I'd just told him that. I said I have flight logs showing my altitude over his house etc.

Anyway his tone softens, turns out he has a drone himself, he admits its a grey area but says he believes you need to get landowner's permission to fly over their land. He admits he can see my point that I'm over 50 metres above his house so I am following that rule, says there's new laws coming soon regarding drones and says some criminals use them to transport drugs to prisons, he has his kids in the garden etc.

Overall don't know what to say. Flying a drone seems to be one of those weird things where you can be minding your own business, following the law and people will think its ok to come up to you angry and aggressive. Also very weird for an off duty police officer to not know the law on flying drones, when he says he has one himself!
2018-3-14
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Silvex
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United States
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My opinion is that we have to be careful not to give the impression of "spying" on people. Not because we are breaking any current laws, but because negative public opinion will lead to more restrictive laws in the future. Drone pilots are a very small minority. If the public sours on them, we have a lot more to lose.
2018-3-14
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miketmtpro
Second Officer
Flight distance : 1883940 ft
United States
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It's because the stupid media only reports wrongdoings, or some ticked off homeowner.

I took my drones and showed my neighbors what it does, and of course camera limitations. They actually believed these drones could see through curtains, screens, and view them from 100's of yards away in full color. LOL.

I showed them all exactly what they look like at altitudes. Took pics. Took video. I said well, at 200' or more there isn't much to see in terms of people. I showed them other video clips of our lakes, boats on the lake and other examples. They were stunned that these were not as invasive as NEWS reported. I showed them pics at 50' away, 100' away, and 500' away. I said if this is not 10' in your backyard then you really have nothing to worry about.

Public just has not been educated on drones, or what to worry about from them.... other than landing on their roof by accident like one of my cheapie JRC31's did in a gust of wind.

It's been months from then and now one of my neighbors has been wanting to buy one like a Spark to take on vacations.
2018-3-14
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Theppgcowboy
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United States
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Media, especially news media is dead. Its all opinion any more.
2018-3-14
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Mavic Ace
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United States
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I am lucky that I live in the country and nobody really seems to care if you fly over their farm fields, Woods or ponds. I always go out of my way not to fly over a stranger’s house and if I have to I do it at 400 feet.
2018-3-14
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Lamplighter55
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United Kingdom
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Yup, its something in the air... people are primed and triggered by the general atmosphere engendered by too much 24 hour news -  always looking for a confrontational angle. Anything to spice up the story! You did a good job in sticking to the Drone Code guidelines  - and deescalating the situation with the copper.
2018-3-14
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Wachtberger
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Germany
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miketmtpro Posted at 2018-3-14 12:12
It's because the stupid media only reports wrongdoings, or some ticked off homeowner.

I took my drones and showed my neighbors what it does, and of course camera limitations. They actually believed these drones could see through curtains, screens, and view them from 100's of yards away in full color. LOL.

Very well done! And we all should act the same way. Always making it clear that we are not spying, answer all questions and let them see what we are doing.
2018-3-14
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Wachtberger
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Germany
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In my opinion you have handeled the situation very well!
2018-3-14
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FlyDK
Captain
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Denmark
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Do not know how it is in UK, but in Denmark we also have a 50 meter minimum distance to houses, which, however, ONLY apply in a horizontal plane. Here we must not in any way fly over houses, regardless of height, unless permission is given by the owner of the house.
2018-3-14
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Sea Parrot
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United Kingdom
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The UK "50m away" rule doesn't mean you have to be 50m above; it doesn't mean 50m horizontally away. It means that in a straight line, the UAV must be 50m away. Think of it as a 50m bubble.

But more importantly is the CAA (very sensible) requirement that reasonable steps must be taken that the pilot is satisfied that the flight can be conducted safely.

http://uavacademy.co.uk/caa-clarifies-50m-rule/ is worth reading....

2018-3-14
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Matthew Eccles
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FlyDK Posted at 2018-3-14 15:00
Do not know how it is in UK, but in Denmark we also have a 50 meter minimum distance to houses, which, however, ONLY apply in a horizontal plane. Here we must not in any way fly over houses, regardless of height, unless permission is given by the owner of the house.

I just looked up the Danish laws around drones. All I can say is I feel sorry for you guys.

"The local police must always be informed in writing 24 hours prior to all flights."
Flights over 120 metres and night flights require government approval

Those are just some of the things I've read about flying in Denmark. Feel pretty lucky to be flying in the UK after reading that! Can't imagine having to tell the police every time I want to fly!
2018-3-14
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bigdps
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Canada
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miketmtpro Posted at 2018-3-14 12:12
It's because the stupid media only reports wrongdoings, or some ticked off homeowner.

I took my drones and showed my neighbors what it does, and of course camera limitations. They actually believed these drones could see through curtains, screens, and view them from 100's of yards away in full color. LOL.

The sad part is Hollywood shows Drones that can do exactly what you describe. But you and I know they are far from being able to do this, right out of the box. It is all done through smoke and mirrors camera trickery.

Not saying one day it won't be possible, but at our level of $$$ power, no.
2018-3-14
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Gunship9
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United States
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I think a drone flying over your house and photographing you and your property would be annoying.  Especially, since the photographer is normally hidden far away.  Easily solved problem by flying a cheap race drone up and snuggling it against the photography drone.  "I have a right to fly here," said both drone pilots looking at the crash debris.  The happy home owner being one of the pilots
2018-3-14
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Face-AcheNZ
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New Zealand
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Matthew Eccles Posted at 2018-3-14 16:41
I just looked up the Danish laws around drones. All I can say is I feel sorry for you guys.

"The local police must always be informed in writing 24 hours prior to all flights."

New Zealand is similar, but not as draconian. We still have a 120m altitude limit, and can’t fly over any property without the owners permission regardless of the height. Not allowed within 100m of a children’s playground, and can’t fly over people even in a public place without their express permission.

Thankfully we don’t have to inform the police before flights!


OP, sounds like you handled the situation really well.


2018-3-14
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djiuser_SQulrxH39Tjy
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Czechia
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I had a similar encounter - https://greyarro.ws/t/midlands-where-can-i-fly/1682 and https://greyarro.ws/t/parish-council-drone-post/1684/8
2018-3-15
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FlyDK
Captain
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Denmark
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Matthew Eccles Posted at 2018-3-14 16:41
I just looked up the Danish laws around drones. All I can say is I feel sorry for you guys.

"The local police must always be informed in writing 24 hours prior to all flights."

I do not know where you read the rules, but I think they are only valid for drone flying in urban arias, which require special training and test (A1 proof) and also flight for professional purposes only.

As an "amateur" in Denmark, you can fly without prior permission from the authorities as long as all drones rules for flying outside urban arias are complied with.

Some of the rules for flights with drones outside urban settlements apply (short version):
1. Flight requires the passing of online test, registration as a drone owner and a valid liability insurance -

2. Minimum 50 meter horizontal distance to virtually all buildings (over flight prohibited unless authorized by owner) -

3. The altitude must never exceed 100 meters above ground -

4. At least 150 meters horizontal distance to all public roads whose maximum permitted speed is 70 km/h or more. It is also not permitted to fly closer to railways than 150 meters. Over flight prohibited applies to both roads and railways.

5. Night flights are allowed if the light on the drone makes it possible to distinguish between the front and the rear. The start and landing area must be sufficiently illuminated.
2018-3-15
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Montfrooij
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Netherlands
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FlyDK Posted at 2018-3-15 02:01
I do not know where you read the rules, but I think they are only valid for drone flying in urban arias, which require special training and test (A1 proof) and also flight for professional purposes only.

As an "amateur" in Denmark, you can fly without prior permission from the authorities as long as all drones rules for flying outside urban arias are complied with.

This 'horizontal' part is key.
Most laws did not (yet) add that section.
So if you are over 50m high, you are ok.

Recently they changed this in NL too....
Too bad.
2018-3-15
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Malakai_UK
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I'm kind of glad they are using the drone code because it kind of makes it easier for us pilots when we do get confronted by enforcement as they tend to focus on the 50m distance rule but unfortunately, if they wanted to throw law at us, the CAA states you shouldn't be flying 150m near to or over a congested area unless you have a permission from the CAA. This means residential, industrial or recreational areas.
2018-3-15
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Montfrooij
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Netherlands
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I think you did a good job remaining calm (that is how I read the story) and polite.
That works best I think.
Most of the time there are arguments for both sides, but I would rather not start an argument.

Agree, take away the tension, tell you are willing to improve and ask what exactly you should have done.
If you don't agree, bring up info you know with sources and ask if that is info is wrong, but only if you feel that the other side is also willing to listen.
2018-3-15
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Matthew Eccles
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Face-AcheNZ Posted at 2018-3-14 23:53
New Zealand is similar, but not as draconian. We still have a 120m altitude limit, and can’t fly over any property without the owners permission regardless of the height. Not allowed within 100m of a children’s playground, and can’t fly over people even in a public place without their express permission.

Thankfully we don’t have to inform the police before flights!

How do you deal with the getting permission from everyone who's land you will be flying over? That must be an absolute nightmare.

I flew around the area today again and had to deliberately steer well clear of his house haha
2018-3-15
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Matthew Eccles
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djiuser_SQulrxH39Tjy Posted at 2018-3-15 00:54
I had a similar encounter - https://greyarro.ws/t/midlands-where-can-i-fly/1682 and https://greyarro.ws/t/parish-council-drone-post/1684/8

That sounds sketchy, I would have asked to see their warrant cards or at least where they're getting that information from, like is it a byelaw or what? If you're on public land you shouldn't have a problem and it sounds like me you were trying to take off from somewhere with no one around

There is a possibility it could have just been two locals who didn't like you flying round there and pretended to be police officers!
2018-3-15
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djiuser_SQulrxH39Tjy
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Matthew Eccles Posted at 2018-3-15 11:17
That sounds sketchy, I would have asked to see their warrant cards or at least where they're getting that information from, like is it a byelaw or what? If you're on public land you shouldn't have a problem and it sounds like me you were trying to take off from somewhere with no one around

There is a possibility it could have just been two locals who didn't like you flying round there and pretended to be police officers!

Thank you. I believe you are correct but I didn't want to escalate the confrontation at that time and place - I could also detect a strong presence of alcohol. I thought I was on solid ground but being new to the hobby but I also had a large element of doubt that I might have been in the wrong. I hope that by seeking clarifications that can be shown to concerned members of the public I can show that I am following the rules.

If I encounter these gentlemen again, it will be me calling the uniformed police for harassing me going about my lawful business. I guess these encounters are fairly common at the moment.  I will also ask the parish council to publish their response with a copy of the drone code on their public notice boards and news letter.

Thanks again to everyone who has responded.

David.

2018-3-15
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HyLenz
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Excellent way to handle the situation, OP. I think most of the rules are designed for safety to property and person rather than for privacy, and most makes sense, though i am glad i don't have to call anyone every time i fly...
As far as folks worried about privacy invasion from drones, they need to think about how everyone is carrying a very powerful camera these days. Every person, car, cop, kid, dash cams, intersections, highway cams, even satellites, pretty much anyone or anything is probably recording you at all times. Just part of life in the typical 21st century metropolis. There is very little privacy, and that is something we have to all deal with as societies evolve...
I choose to live waayyy the heck out in the woods of South Georgia, USA, so not too much spying going on here. But if i choose to live in a gated community or sub division, i would expect every minute someone is watching and probably recording... I say give them a show. Drop your drawers an give 'em the full moon!
2018-3-15
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S.D. Pilot
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Hey Matt, looks like you handled it well. I've got tons of flight-time miles and I've yet to have anyone question me. Only had a few folks just curious about my drone but that's it. The other day I was flying near an airport so called ATC, provided my location, AGL and AC #, he said, 'Hey have a good time'.
2018-3-15
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Matthew Eccles
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S.D. Pilot Posted at 2018-3-15 13:34
Hey Matt, looks like you handled it well. I've got tons of flight-time miles and I've yet to have anyone question me. Only had a few folks just curious about my drone but that's it. The other day I was flying near an airport so called ATC, provided my location, AGL and AC #, he said, 'Hey have a good time'.

I think it comes down to having a routine of launching from somewhere quite secluded or at least not crowded or built up, and launching straight up to 80-100 metres and then doing your flight. On that day there was some wind affecting my Mavic (I hadn't figured out you can turn off the sensors to give it more power in wind) so it may have appeared at times I was just hovering.

I think also many of the country folk are more likely to be worried about drones, I don't however know why.

Basically not hovering or hanging around a particular property (my launch site wasn't far from the guys house) will go a long way as you won't give anyone a reason to care or even notice. Then whip out the drone code if anything does arise. That will be my strategy from now on.
2018-3-16
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Face-AcheNZ
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Matthew Eccles Posted at 2018-3-15 10:58
How do you deal with the getting permission from everyone who's land you will be flying over? That must be an absolute nightmare.

I flew around the area today again and had to deliberately steer well clear of his house haha

Basically you just don’t fly over their land. It’s not so bad if they have a large property, but it’s virtually impossible in suburbia - you would have to get the permission of dozens of homeowners and even then you wouldn’t be able to fly very far.

The good thing is that for public land or council-owned land, no permission is required. So parks, reserves and such are all good, but i still make a point of asking people using them, even if i’m not flying over them. I also live close to the longest river in New Zealand, the Waikato River, and because we’re part of the British Commonwealth, still have something called the ‘Queens Chain’, which states that the first 20 meters of river/beach shoreline is considered public land. It covers all of the Waikato River, and around 60% of other shorelines, esplanades etc around NZ. So river flying is fine.

And i’m soon going to ‘warranted’ through my work, meaning i will be able to fly absolutely anywhere without anyone’s permission. This is so that i can fly our work drones onto property where the owner is suspected of breaking environmental/conservation laws (like a guy burning rubber tyres a few weeks ago, which is illegal - was able to fly the drone, but had to have a warranted officer with me). I’ll be able to whip out my FBI-style ID and say “I’m a warranted officer under the Resource Management Act, so I’m allowed!”. I’ve already done that once with my work ID when i was flying around a river tributary gully, which anyone is legally allowed to do, but it was easier when getting into an argument with the person about it.

One of the other regulations is around what they call ‘shielded’ flying. In aircraft flight path areas, you’re allowed to fly within 100 meters of any large object, building, tree, etc, but not higher than the top of it, as there will be no aircraft flying lower than the top of that object. There is a park that i go to that is in our airport flight path, but because it’s surrounded by massively tall trees, i’m allowed to fly there as long as i don’t go higher than the tops of the trees.

So the whole ‘landowner permission’ thing is a bit of a pain, it’s not quite as bad as it sounds due to the other regulations and places that you’re allowed to fly.

Wow, ..... epic post, lol!
2018-3-17
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Matthew Eccles
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Face-AcheNZ Posted at 2018-3-17 14:22
Basically you just don’t fly over their land. It’s not so bad if they have a large property, but it’s virtually impossible in suburbia - you would have to get the permission of dozens of homeowners and even then you wouldn’t be able to fly very far.

The good thing is that for public land or council-owned land, no permission is required. So parks, reserves and such are all good, but i still make a point of asking people using them, even if i’m not flying over them. I also live close to the longest river in New Zealand, the Waikato River, and because we’re part of the British Commonwealth, still have something called the ‘Queens Chain’, which states that the first 20 meters of river/beach shoreline is considered public land. It covers all of the Waikato River, and around 60% of other shorelines, esplanades etc around NZ. So river flying is fine.

So lets say you're out in the countryside, even there everything seems to be owned by someone, at least in the UK, so do you still have to get permission say to fly over fields which could be owned by farmers?
2018-3-18
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Face-AcheNZ
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Matthew Eccles Posted at 2018-3-18 13:03
So lets say you're out in the countryside, even there everything seems to be owned by someone, at least in the UK, so do you still have to get permission say to fly over fields which could be owned by farmers?

Officially we do - they're the relatively easy ones, as long as you have some idea who owns the land. Normally it's the nearest farmhouse you can see. Just rock up, explain what you're doing, ask permission, find out where their farm boundary is.

You can also offer to provide them with the footage if they want, ask if they need any specific areas checked out - just a nice thing to do if you're going to be there anyway, and helps to combat the negative press that drones get in the media.
2018-3-18
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