Drones: Flying fun or phantom menace?

Sightings of drones in the evening recently reported in Bayou Gauche, as well as other areas of St. Charles Parish, had some residents concerned over them violating their privacy and even drew threats of shooting them.

Area residents report they’re seeing them all the time.

Some of the drones have been reported to the St. Charles Parish Sheriff’s Office, along with residents threatening to shoot them, but spokesman Cpl. James Grimaldi said he isn’t aware of one being shot or of anyone reporting drones spying on them.

However, Grimaldi emphasized anyone contemplating shooting one should think twice about the consequences of that move.

It’s illegal.

On behalf of drone users, Grimaldi said, “It is the responsibility of the owner to adhere to all rules, regulations and laws provided by the FAA. We respect people’s right to recreationally or commercially use unmanned aircraft, but wish for everyone to be aware of the responsibility that is associated with it.”

As three Spanish visitors recently learned when they flew a drone in no-fly air space over Valero, it is illegal to fly unmanned aircraft (like drones) to conduct surveillance, gather evidence or collect information about or photographically or electronically record a targeted facility without the prior content of the owner of that facility.

“We respect people’s right to recreationally or commercially use unmanned aircraft, but wish for everyone to be aware of the responsibility that is associated with it”- Cpl. James Grimaldi

State law also forbids this craft being flown over state or local jails, prisons or other correctional facilities. The list also includes schools and school premises.

Criminal trespassing has been expanded to include flying a drone in airspace over private property or conducting surveillance of private property without consent.

Also in Louisiana, the law includes voyeurism and “peeping tom” laws that include photographs or recordings obtained by drone.

In Louisiana, law enforcement and firefighters are allowed to disable a drone interfering with their duties.

The FAA states if anyone is a recreational flier or modeler flying for fun or as a hobby then they must register the drone if it weighs more than .55 pounds. To do it, visit www.faadronezone.faa.gov and select “Fly Model Aircraft under Section 336” to get started.

The FAA also states anyone flying a drone must be at least 13 years old to register.

Recreational drone users must also fly at or below 400 feet in uncontrolled airspace; fly in visual line-of-sight; never fly near another aircraft; never fly over groups of people, public events or stadiums full of people, and never fly near or over emergency response efforts.

Drone trends

  • Domino’s is piloting the use of drones to deliver pizza. An estimated 47 percent of Americans are interested in drone deliveries.
  • An estimated 7 million drones are expected to be in use in the U.S. by 2020. The global drone market is expected to be worth $127 billion by 2020.
  • Photography and real estate are the top uses for drones.
  • In 2011, the FAA fined Raphael Pirker $10,000 for using a drone commercially without a license.

About Anna Thibodeaux 1894 Articles
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