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How do you deal with other (potentially illegal) pilots interfering with your operation?

bitsbytes

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Joined
Feb 6, 2023
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Location
Bellingham, Washington, USA
I have encountered other pilots while flying a few times, each with varying results.

One time while flying, I noticed someone with a camera taking photos of a parade I was planning to get some video of. Then I they pulled a Mavic 3 and a DJI RC out of their bag, which made me extremely cautious as we were setting up nearby to this person. I spoke with him before flying and told him I am also a drone pilot and we discussed where we would be flying to stay out of each others' way, using some roads and landmarks to make sure our aircraft remained in separate areas. This worked fine, they just flew for about 10 minutes taking some photos and then returned back. This worked perfectly fine and there was no issues whatsoever.

On another occasion, I was attempting to take some video of a fireworks show. I attached a strobe to my aircraft and had all the proper authorization for flying at night inside a controlled airspace that does not have LAANC. Unfortunately, someone pulled out a Mini SE and started recklessly flying it over people around the entire park which was completely full of people sitting on blankets and chairs. They didn't use a strobe, nor did it appear that they had TRUST or the correct airspace authorization to fly there. It also seemed like they didn't really understand English, and I was having to deal with my own aircraft, so there wasn't really much I could do other than hold position until they stopped flying. This heavily disrupted what I was doing.

This shows how interactions between pilots flying in the same area can either be great or terrible depending on how willing they are to follow the rules and communicate what they are doing with other pilots. How do other pilots deal with these types of situations?
 
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This shows why VLOS, situational awareness, visually monitoring all activity around your aircraft, and general consideration of those around you are important. You can only control how you fly strictly according to FAA regulation and not other pilots.
 
Other than not fly, the best thing you can do is maintain a safe alt , as you dont want to mix up
either drone with the one your flying which can happen very easily.

Mixing up drones in the sky have resulted in numerous incidents , so if you see someone getting ready to fly you can just say < hey I will be flying at 75 ft . Keep it simple

If there already up in the air , they were there first so you may have to wait out there battery or adjust your alt an vlos.

Phantomrain.org
Gear to fly in the Rain. Separte your self from other drones in the sky.
 
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I fly with a friend regularly and while it's easy to see our own drone it's often not possible to see another drone even when it's reasonably close as our eyes are often on our controller so we do what others mention here, namely to ensure we are at different altitudes. A note of caution: I was flying with a friend when a train tooted it's whistle alerting us to it coming and we both agreed we'd go get some film of it passing by. My friend looked up at my drone, thinking it was his and moved his stick forward, watching my drone move toward the train as his drone flew into the trees at full tilt boogie. Ouch. His drone died an untimely death, literally only a few weeks old. When you look up, be sure you know who's drone you are looking at!
 
I cured that problem years ago by moving to Alaska.
One of the biggest reasons I bought my first drone earlier this year was for a road trip we took from Vancouver BC up to Alaska. Absolutely fantastic scenery, the money spent on the drone was worth it just for that trip alone.
 
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I'm from Romania and all the public events I've been hired to fly my drone at had law enforcement present. When you fly legally, you can always count on law enforcement backing you up.

On multiple occasions I complained about drone pilots flying illegally, usually Mini series drones, over crowds, and the way they fly in proximity of my drone.
One time, they even used an Aeroscope to find them, and the other 6 times this happened, they sent out 5-10 people and looked for the guys holding remotes.

So yeah. Snitch on these type of pilots. Best course of action.
 
Probably best to either land or just pack up and live for another day.
Somewhat difficult to educate the folks with very small gray matter packages.
That is what I do as well, Pack up and move to another spot, or just leave the area. Agree with Starz, difficult to educate folks with small grey matter packages. Not saying it can't be done it just takes time and patience.
 
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It was especially unnerving when someone flew their drone around me while I was monitoring mine in the middle of a mapping mission. I tried ignoring it, waving friendly towards it and pointing at my drone just as a friendly goodby, but then finally had to track the pilot down and go over to their house to say hello and to politely ask them to let us finish the job. I invited him to come over to learn how we were doing it when he showed a bit of interest in how he could do it for work as well. Being polite and helpful is the way I do it.
 
As a hobbyist I've encountered some drones midflight, people use to fly at quite low alt and with the drone nearby, so I just follow them with the telephoto out of curiosity, it's not a common sight. There's no point in talking to them, If there happens to be another person in my takeoff locations (drone pilot or not), I just wait till they go away or find another location; I don't fly drones to make friends or be assaulted by mindless karens.

I also work for a client that hires a videographer that also brings an FPV pilot, so we are with our three drones flying at the same time. In an event of a crash drones are quite cheap compared to what the client pays, so we just focus on doing the best pics possible and if the flying cameras break, it's just a minor issue (drone pics are not the main thing on that job). There's no point in scheduling the flights as I tend to shoot from a more aerial perspective than the other two, that stay closer to the target, and if the drones appear on my pics, they becomea just a few pixels easy to clone.
 
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I have yet to encounter another pilot while flying. Wait...I have yet to encounter another pilot - at all - other than a friend that might come along with me. So thus far...never. Maybe someday...'cause there certainly are plenty of drone pilots in Alaska but we're pretty well spread out :).
 
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In all of my 12 years of using drones, I have never had this issue.
 
I have encountered other pilots while flying a few times, each with varying results.

One time while flying, I noticed someone with a camera taking photos of a parade I was planning to get some video of. Then I they pulled a Mavic 3 and a DJI RC out of their bag, which made me extremely cautious as we were setting up nearby to this person. I spoke with him before flying and told him I am also a drone pilot and we discussed where we would be flying to stay out of each others' way, using some roads and landmarks to make sure our aircraft remained in separate areas. This worked fine, they just flew for about 10 minutes taking some photos and then returned back. This worked perfectly fine and there was no issues whatsoever.

On another occasion, I was attempting to take some video of a fireworks show. I attached a strobe to my aircraft and had all the proper authorization for flying at night inside a controlled airspace that does not have LAANC. Unfortunately, someone pulled out a Mini SE and started recklessly flying it over people around the entire park which was completely full of people sitting on blankets and chairs. They didn't use a strobe, nor did it appear that they had TRUST or the correct airspace authorization to fly there. It also seemed like they didn't really understand English, and I was having to deal with my own aircraft, so there wasn't really much I could do other than hold position until they stopped flying. This heavily disrupted what I was doing.

This shows how interactions between pilots flying in the same area can either be great or terrible depending on how willing they are to follow the rules and communicate what they are doing with other pilots. How do other pilots deal with these types of situations?
Whenever this has cropped up, I've adopted the MYOB attitude. Other people have just as much right to fly their drones as I have and if mine isn't the first bird in the air: I'll wait until the airspace is clear and then launch.
 
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