Let me begin by saying my views on this subject are my own and doing what I suggest could result in prosecution. The risk however is very low…
Being an avid photographer for most of my life, the amazing drone technology has become an exciting addiction. Ive been flying them for over four years now getting images I could only dream about before. Placing great musical soundtracks on my videos has been pure joy.
I fly really safe having never once damaged property or caused injury. I follow sound advice like staying away from other aircraft, flying well below 400 feet (flying higher does not aid in capturing great images). I fly sober and watchful and accordingly I have never needed crash repairs.
I won’t ever ask permission to flyover or photograph private property. That’s constitutionally protected activity that fixed wing and helicopters have enjoyed for years and there is plenty of settled appellate law that guides me.
As for the FAA. FAA rules, until drones became to be, were always written in the blood of actual air catastrophes. Prior restraint regulation was not part of the FAA’s culture until modern hobby drones appeared in our skies.
Conventional pilots understood only too well that drones were going to invade their professional turf and threaten their livelihoods. Pilots and FAA officials entered into a public relations conspiracy to demonize drones, their operators and to frighten the public that their safety, privacy and wellbeing were at serious risk.
Pilots were calling in phony drone sightings and near collisions constantly creating what I called, Drone Hysteria. The phony reports are few and far between now that the novelty has worn off.
The Obama Administration’s FAA’s mouth was watering with the idea of punitive drone regulation followed by thousands of new enforcement jobs and promotions.
Fortunately drones increased by a few million and still there were no collisions with conventional aircraft, serious injuries or property damage. Any excuse to grow the FAA because of drones was and is a total failure.
The FAA has since created a horrendous, two tiered system for drone operators with separate rules. The somewhat relaxed hobbyist rules and the substantially burdensome, stricter and more unreasonable commercial user’s regulations.
The Part 107 Commercial rules are petty, unfair and do nothing to make our airspace safer. The simply make unnecessary work for everyone akin to digging holes only to fill them back up.
The petty, Part 107 rules are virtually unenforceable because the FAA lacks meaningful manpower to police them.
Drone operators love answering questions to FAA officials and that ignorant behavior allows the FAA inspectors to easily build cases against them. If the drone operators simply were smart enough to ask for a lawyer instead of blabbing and making admissions there would be virtually no cases to prosecute.
It’s much easier to talk your way into a courtroom. Keeping your mouth shut tight will do wonders to keep you out of trouble, away from lawyers, their fees and court fines.
I say when in doubt, fly if you really need the images. Lets say your two miles from a major airport and you want to inspect a roof or capture real estate marketing material at less than 70 feet above the structures go ahead.
If your in such an area considered sensitive, fly your drone early in the morning before the FAA, local police and public have had their coffee. Use your vehicles to shield drone take offs and landings. Above all fly low and safe.