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Is flying a drone over private property Illegal?

January 1, 2018

 

The short answer: NO.The National Airspace System (NAS) is the airspace, navigation facilities and airports of the United States along with their associated information, services, rules, regulations, policies, procedures, personnel and equipment.[1] It includes components shared jointly with the military. It is one of the most complex aviation systems in the world and services air travel in the United States and over large portions of the world's oceans. 

 

A flight through the NAS typically begins and ends at an airport which may be controlled (by a tower) or uncontrolled. On departure, the aircraft is in one of five of the six classes of airspace administered by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), and different flight rules apply to each class. Depending on the class of airspace and flight conditions, communication with controllers may or may not be required. Operation of each flight is always the responsibility of the pilot in command, but air traffic controllers give instructions for sequencing and safety as needed.

 

The other day I was flying a mission over an established neighborhood for a client. I was observing all FAA regulations and was just about finished when a lady came up near where I was flying and was asking all kinds of questions (while I was flying), and demanding to know who I was. I kept calm and told her who I was, my company and that I was flying for a client. She then advised me that (I had better not fly over any private property), and then left. I never had the opportunity to even respond. Having said that, it is NOT illegal to fly over private property. As a licensed commercial sUAS pilot I am allowed to fly in the NAS system as defined above. Does that mean I intentionally fly over private property without permission? No. The FAA has authority over the NAS and has defined sUAS (small Unmanned Aerial System) as an aircraft.

 

Because of this, licensed sUAS pilots are allowed to fly over private property just like any other aircraft, like St. Mary's Airlife, Oil field helicopters, or low flying crop dusters. What people need to understand is that interference or harassment of a PIC (Pilot-in-Command) of a sUAS is a Federal crime! No different than interfering with any other commercial pilot. Hopefully through education we will avoid any safety or privacy issues. 

 

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