Don’t Shoot Drones
Image: Rick Wilson
In November, a Modesto, CA a man’s UAS operating on his own property was shot down by a neighbor’s son. The neighbor, Brett McBay, claimed that the man, Eric Joe, was “testing surveillance” capabilities of his UAS. Joe told McBay that it did not have a camera or any surveillance capabilities and told of other times that McBay shot live ammo into his property. Joe finally settled the case in county court, where the Judge found it easy to determine the outcome due to the admission of McBay that he shot down the UAS. Further Joe was able to prove that the UAS was over his property via GPS data. The Judge also stated that "McBay acted unreasonably in having his son shoot the drone down regardless of whether it was over his property or not.” This has potential to set a precedent, and shooting down an aircraft is a federal felony with a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. There have been a few instances of things like this story occurring in the last few years, but the FAA has not charged anyone with the violation. In this case there is still a pending criminal case, but it will be interesting to see if the FAA is willing to stand behind UAS pilots.