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My first real altercation while flying

Joined
May 13, 2019
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So last week I was flying a survey of a commercial property. I was flying for a local authority that sets a fee for stormwater runoff of impermiable surface area.

My spotter and I launched from a public right-of-way alongside of a road. Due to the proximity to a class D, we were limited to 100 feet AGL. Now, that's only about 35 feet or so above the lighting fixtures at this location. We were clearly visible to the people working there.

Within 5 minutes, person #1 came over i inquiring about my flying. I told him I was flying a survey and would be gone in 20 minutes or so. He had more questions that I mostly danced around so as not to give up the client. He told me he was taking a photo of my vest with my company info and I said "fine.. you are in a public space."

5 minutes later the person #2 (the boss) came out. He was much more aggressive and demanded that I land immediately. He said they do commercial truck driver testing for the state and i was not allowed to photograph it. I schooled him in the laws and assured him I was well within my rights. After more threats and insistence that I land NOW, I simply said "the drone is on an autonomous flight path and I cannot stop until the sortie was complete." He threatened to call the cops and I said that he should do so as they will explain the law. He didn't like that response and was still insisting that I land. At this point I told him that if he didn't cease and desist, that he would be interfering with a flight crew and that is a federal offense!!! He walked away after I assured him I would stop by his office after the flight to discuss.

As I walk up to him after the flight he apologized for his aggressive behavior and that he contacted the company lawyers who told him I was ok to do this flight. He suggested that I maybe let people know what I'm doing before flying the mission. I told him that the outcome would be the same only in a different order and that if he asked me to wait until "council" was contacted, I would ignore his request due to my time constraints. Better to ask for forgiveness that beg for permission.

All went well in the end. I did have my binder full of FAA part 107 and beyond, PA State law, case law , and drone privacy laws with me if I needed.
 
I take a different approach and try to always inform a supervisor of any area I will be flying over for a short period of time. I consider it a common courtesy. I don't always tell them who has hired me, and if they ask I usually tell them I don't know who the end user is. This has worked out well for me and has brought me other work and projects.

Glad it worked out for you.
 
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So last week I was flying a survey of a commercial property. I was flying for a local authority that sets a fee for stormwater runoff of impermiable surface area.

My spotter and I launched from a public right-of-way alongside of a road. Due to the proximity to a class D, we were limited to 100 feet AGL. Now, that's only about 35 feet or so above the lighting fixtures at this location. We were clearly visible to the people working there.

Within 5 minutes, person #1 came over i inquiring about my flying. I told him I was flying a survey and would be gone in 20 minutes or so. He had more questions that I mostly danced around so as not to give up the client. He told me he was taking a photo of my vest with my company info and I said "fine.. you are in a public space."

5 minutes later the person #2 (the boss) came out. He was much more aggressive and demanded that I land immediately. He said they do commercial truck driver testing for the state and i was not allowed to photograph it. I schooled him in the laws and assured him I was well within my rights. After more threats and insistence that I land NOW, I simply said "the drone is on an autonomous flight path and I cannot stop until the sortie was complete." He threatened to call the cops and I said that he should do so as they will explain the law. He didn't like that response and was still insisting that I land. At this point I told him that if he didn't cease and desist, that he would be interfering with a flight crew and that is a federal offense!!! He walked away after I assured him I would stop by his office after the flight to discuss.

As I walk up to him after the flight he apologized for his aggressive behavior and that he contacted the company lawyers who told him I was ok to do this flight. He suggested that I maybe let people know what I'm doing before flying the mission. I told him that the outcome would be the same only in a different order and that if he asked me to wait until "council" was contacted, I would ignore his request due to my time constraints. Better to ask for forgiveness that beg for permission.

All went well in the end. I did have my binder full of FAA part 107 and beyond, PA State law, case law , and drone privacy laws with me if I needed.
I know this is asking a lot but could you post the pdf of your binder information?
 
I know this is asking a lot but could you post the pdf of your binder information?

I can do that at some point, but really busy right now. Probably our best quarter ever.

In the mean time this is the basic concept:

-State specific laws on privacy
-State specific laws on privacy as it relates to drones if applicable
-Federal laws on interference with a flight crew and damaging an aircraft
-FAA part 107- the whole thing and additional FAA letters of clarification
-Paper copy of appropriate sectional chart
-FAA statement on the local police authority over drones relating to enforcement of only privacy and not operation other than dangerous operation.
-FAA statement on preemption. FAA does not allow local gov't to make its own laws. All local control come thru the FAA
-Copy of all aircraft registration docs, UAV license and embossed copy of recertification test
-Copy of United States vs. Causby, the original low altitude court case
-Copy of ACLU v. Alvarez, relating to photography being included in the First Amendment
 
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I take a different approach and try to always inform a supervisor of any area I will be flying over for a short period of time. I consider it a common courtesy. I don't always tell them who has hired me, and if they ask I usually tell them I don't know who the end user is. This has worked out well for me and has brought me other work and projects.

Glad it worked out for you.
I do too, and I'm guessing Forby does as well, but in THIS particular case, I agree with how Forby handled it. I've taken shots for lawyers regarding property disputes and informing the opposing party in any way tips your hand and they try to block you from performing your flight before you even get started.

As long as you are legally launching, pre-informing someone is a courtesy and can help avoid issues, but in these cases, it tips your hand and could lead to trouble and issues BEFORE you even start flying. At least this way, you get your job done.

That's why this guy is my VO.. (jk) :D
 

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This is good advice whenever you can I try to notify people on site of the activity just to Reduce the chance of an issue I’ll often ask the owner for a site contact and if they will contact them before hand most of the time that’s possible
 
I can do that at some point, but really busy right now. Probably our best quarter ever.

In the mean time this is the basic concept:

-State specific laws on privacy
-State specific laws on privacy as it relates to drones if applicable
-Federal laws on interference with a flight crew and damaging an aircraft
-FAA part 107- the whole thing and additional FAA letters of clarification
-Paper copy of appropriate sectional chart
-FAA statement on the local police authority over drones relating to enforcement of only privacy and not operation other than dangerous operation.
-FAA statement on preemption. FAA does not allow local gov't to make its own laws. All local control come thru the FAA
-Copy of all aircraft registration docs, UAV license and embossed copy of recertification test
-Copy of United States vs. Causby, the original low altitude court case
-Copy of ACLU v. Alvarez, relating to photography being included in the First Amendment
Thank You, I have never been in a situation as pressurized as the one you described, I am 107 certified and always insured when I fly, as well as LAANC authorized where available. But there have been a couple flights recently where I wasn't 100% sure I would be able to explain myself in a effective manor to diffuse a situation. Been brushing up on all the laws and how to read a sectional chart for my current exam, and this info helped me look up the right questions for my area, and I had never thought of carrying a binder, seems like a no brainer, so thank you again for sharing.
 

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