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Please, No UAS Fireworks

If you're among those fortunate enough to have a drone to fly for fun and recreation over the holiday weekend, please do so safely and responsibly.
By Patrick C. Miller | July 02, 2015

Maybe it’s the upcoming 4th of July holiday, the recent spate of U.S. Supreme Court decisions or the unmanned aerial systems headlines from the past week that got me to thinking about our nations’ laws and freedoms.

There was a story about a woman getting knocked out by a drone at a parade and another about firefighters having to shut down their aerial operations because of unauthorized unmanned aerial vehicles posing a danger to manned aircraft.

It almost seems as if some drone operators are taking their cues from the Internet, a place where anonymity causes people to do and say things they wouldn’t normally do or say. Perhaps there’s a certain level of detachment when controlling a flying robot that leads people to believe they can get away with something they ordinarily wouldn’t do.

Reading the comments of drone pilots on social media, it’s as if some have developed a false sense of security based on the idea that flying a drone is something akin to a First Amendment right. Plus, they claim that absolutely nobody has any authority to stop them from doing whatever it is they want to do.

It’s not difficult to understand how such thinking gets started. After all, if you can crash a drone in the prohibited airspace surrounding the White House and never be charged with a crime, then one might reasonably ask: Exactly what it would take to get arrested for a drone offense?

For better or worse, I suspect that we’re soon going to find out as more state and local governments pass their own laws in response to drone-related incidents while waiting for Congress, the courts and federal regulatory agencies to figure out who’s going to take charge.

At some point, there will be consequences for irresponsible UAS operations. I believe that’s a given. I only hope it’s not for the reason voiced by Florida Congressman John Mica during a hearing on Capitol Hill a few weeks ago: “It will take something to move us forward. There will be an incident. There will be a crash. There will be fatalities. I think it’s inevitable.”

If you’re among those fortunate enough to have a drone to fly for fun and recreation over the holiday weekend, please do so safely and responsibly. Don’t give the politicians and the regulators any more ammo than they already have.