If you own a drone, you would probably enjoy taking it to some of California’s most scenic areas in order to get one-of-a-kind pictures. If you want to go to the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, however, you ought to leave your drone at home. Otherwise, you could find yourself in some trouble.
The Golden Gate National Recreation Area covers around 80,000 acres of beautiful California landscape that includes the Marin Headlands, Muir Woods, The Presidio and Alcatraz — and numerous points between and around those locations. That leaves a lot of area where the National Park Service began prohibiting the use of drones starting in 2014. This includes the Golden Gate Bridge.
Drones may be fun to use and handy in a lot of instances, but they can also be dangerous if improperly operated. The National Park Service is not only concerned about drones irritating and otherwise affecting visitors, but wildlife as well. Bird-drone collisions are not unheard of, and some birds will actually attack drones. As for the effects of drone use on humans, they could potentially cause pedestrian, motor vehicle and bicycle accidents.
So what happens if you get caught with a drone in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area? You will most likely face a hefty monetary fine and your drone could be confiscated. In addition, depending on the circumstances, you could face other civil, and even criminal, penalties. If you find yourself inadvertently violating the rules regarding drones in the parks, you may benefit from discussing your situation with an attorney who can help you find the best resolution possible to your issues.
Look in the sky: It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s … a drone?
Drones, also known as small unmanned aircraft systems (sUAS), are the newest fun flying machines. But you can’t fly a recreational drone just anywhere. So where are the no-fly zones in the airspace? Read on to find out.
- Someone else’s private property – One off-limits flying space is in the air above a house or privately held business building.
- Military bases – Flying your drone over a military zone is a sure way to attract the wrong attention and legal problems.
- Airports – Anyplace where there are manned aircraft, including airports must be avoided.
- Roadways – Stay away from any area where vehicles are driving, including residential streets, freeways and highways.
- Out of your sight – You may not fly your drone anywhere you can no longer see the drone.
- Over 400 feet above ground – No matter how high your drone can fly, legally, it must remain below 400 feet off the ground.
- Large venues – Football stadiums or other sports venues are off limits for your drone.
- Crowds of people – Drones may not be flown over any gathering of people.
- Emergency situation locations – You need to keep your drone away from anyplace where the fire department, police, EMTs or other first responders may be working to resolve an emergency situation.
- Inclement weather – You need to be cautious of weather conditions. Does it seem too windy for a safe, controllable flight? Better pick a different day.
These are just a few no-fly zones to note. For further questions about where to take flight, follow-up with the Federal Aviation Administration.
Where have you flown your drone?
Unless you are living under a rock, you have noticed the rapid increase in popularity of drones in recent years. The use of these small unmanned aircraft systems (sUAS) has become so common that drones are sold not only in specialty stores, but also big box stores. They can be easily purchased online — by anyone.
Let’s look at some positive uses for drones as well as some negative impacts and outcomes that may occur.
Drones can go where people sometimes cannot. For example:
- A drone can be deployed to assess an emergency situation, such as a burning building, with the camera-equipped drone flying in to see if anyone is trapped and needs rescue.
- Farmers can use drones to check on crops and even to conduct crop dusting.
- Drones are used to deliver goods, including necessities like food and medicine, particularly in remote areas. Amazon unveiled a new division in 2016 called Amazon Prime Air with trials that aim to deliver orders to customers within 30 minutes.
Anyone can purchase a drone. And although many people will respect the rights and property of others, some will not. Some people may have ill intentions; others may not care about invading someone else’s privacy.
Additionally, drones can damage someone else’s property, or breakdown while flying over private airspace. This could create issues of retrieval and consequences if laws have been broken.
Drones can be operated in ways that are “sneaky.” These stealth machines have the potential to operate undetected. This creates concern in several areas, including giving the ill-intended the ability to:
- Spy on people in their own homes.
- Stalk someone, including taking pictures and video without permission.
- Deliver harmful substances.
- Drones could even be used for such things as corporate espionage and terror.
As you can see from just these few examples, the potential afforded by drone usage is as immense as the cause for concern about drone use is real. And in any case, people who purchase and operate drones are responsible for knowing the laws about proper use. The full implications of the widespread use of drones will only be known as time goes on.
What good, bad or ugly uses do you foresee in drones?
Drones are a new kind of aircraft known as a small Unmanned Aircraft System or sUAS. Along with this new type of aircraft, new rules and laws are just starting to find their way through the government and legal system.
Many questions have already arisen about the legitimate and legal uses of drones, as well as the moral questions that accompany their use.
Who makes the laws?
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) creates the rules and regulations that govern this new frontier of aircraft. Additionally, the California Legislature has spelled out its own laws governing use of drones in California airspace.
Who owns the air?
One big question arising with drones is who owns the air. Are people allowed to fly their drones anywhere? When does the operation of a drone become invasion of privacy?
According to the California legislature, the invasion of privacy occurs when someone “knowingly enters onto the land or into the airspace above the land of another person without permission or otherwise commits a trespass” and if they do so in order to take pictures or video of people.
If the pictures or video are deemed offensive by reasonable person standards, the drone operator could be liable for an invasion of privacy. Others have argued that homeowners should only own the air 500 feet above their homes.
How many drones are out there?
By 2020, the FAA predicts sales of drones will reach 7 million, which means there will be many more drones using the airspace. Some positive and negative uses of drones are already known; however, no one can predict all of the ways these new machines might be used in the future. Therefore, laws will need to develop over time as the use of drones expands.
What experiences have you had with drones?