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What happens to someone.... REALLY... if they shoot your drone down?

wes93j

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I have a neighbor that's really a piece of work.. I do believe I've mentioned my lovely neighbor on here before. I live in a rural area and I've been flying from my home around the neighborhood for the past year-and-a-half or better. I definitely do not loiter over anyone's property in fact I'm usually in full speed as I go over and I'm usually at least 300 feet. All my other surrounding neighbors are aware of what I do for a hobby and they're perfectly fine with it because they know I'm not some kind of a deviant trying to peer at their family. Last weekend I was actually up, flying up and down the roads out here trying to help my other neighbor find her dog I was actually flying at 150 ft that day because I wanted to be a little lower to try and spot her dog. Because he saw me FLYING DOWN THE ROAD in front of his house he called the law on me. as I was flying, a cop pulled up and parked in front of my house, got out and walked up to me and says well I guess you know why I'm here. And I replied no not really. That's when he informed me that the neighbor had called and told him I had been hovering low over his property looking in his windows... Haha.. I know! So any pilot that has flown over a day knows what it would take to get down low enough and look in someone's Windows with that drone. He could have knocked it out of the sky with a broom if I had been that low. I wrote a little in here last week about this incident,... so late yesterday evening almost dark I was flying and I Heard a Voice from over there saying "if you fly over my house again I'm going to shoot that down". Personally I don't even believe he could hit it, but let's say he did,... will they really hit him with a federal charge? because from what all I've read it's a federal issue to shoot down an aircraft of any kind including a drone. I've heard all kind of things from all kind of people but I'd like to get a informed response from actual drone Pilots .
 

dawgpilot

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Personally I don't even believe he could hit it, but let's say he did,... will they really hit him with a federal charge? because from what all I've read it's a federal issue to shoot down an aircraft of any kind including a drone. I've heard all kind of things from all kind of people but I'd like to get a informed response from actual drone Pilots .
In theory it's possible to be charged federally for destruction of aircraft. (although I read one lawyer's argument that the federal statute wouldn't apply to drones) However, local law enforcement doesn't directly bring federal criminal charges, that is done by a federal law enforcement agency such as the FBI, ATF, US Secret Service, etc. Furthermore it would then require the local US Attorney's office (aka the federal prosecutor) to want to actually prosecute the case as such. As far as I know, such a case hasn't been brought yet anywhere in the US following one of these incidents.
 
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brett8883

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I have a neighbor that's really a piece of work.. I do believe I've mentioned my lovely neighbor on here before. I live in a rural area and I've been flying from my home around the neighborhood for the past year-and-a-half or better. I definitely do not loiter over anyone's property in fact I'm usually in full speed as I go over and I'm usually at least 300 feet. All my other surrounding neighbors are aware of what I do for a hobby and they're perfectly fine with it because they know I'm not some kind of a deviant trying to peer at their family. Last weekend I was actually up, flying up and down the roads out here trying to help my other neighbor find her dog I was actually flying at 150 ft that day because I wanted to be a little lower to try and spot her dog. Because he saw me FLYING DOWN THE ROAD in front of his house he called the law on me. as I was flying, a cop pulled up and parked in front of my house, got out and walked up to me and says well I guess you know why I'm here. And I replied no not really. That's when he informed me that the neighbor had called and told him I had been hovering low over his property looking in his windows... Haha.. I know! So any pilot that has flown over a day knows what it would take to get down low enough and look in someone's Windows with that drone. He could have knocked it out of the sky with a broom if I had been that low. I wrote a little in here last week about this incident,... so late yesterday evening almost dark I was flying and I Heard a Voice from over there saying "if you fly over my house again I'm going to shoot that down". Personally I don't even believe he could hit it, but let's say he did,... will they really hit him with a federal charge? because from what all I've read it's a federal issue to shoot down an aircraft of any kind including a drone. I've heard all kind of things from all kind of people but I'd like to get a informed response from actual drone Pilots .
It depends on what state you live in. Here in Utah it’s illegal to shoot a drone unless it’s an imminent threat to life and limb.

I’d frankly report this threat to the FAA and he might get a visit asking why he is threatening to shoot at an aircraft in their sky and if he has any connections to any terrorist organizations.
 

ac0j

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The FAA doesnt have the man power or willingness to react to things like this. If you are in a city, discharging a firearm for any reason is probably a crime. If outside the city, Maybe he gets destruction of property, IF it doesnt crash an his land and he has possesion of the shot down drone.
The real question is, why keep pushing it? Unless you just really love the Drama of pissing off your neighbors just to prove your right (if you even are), why not pack it in a car and drive to where there are no people? You are not supposed to be flying near people anyway.
 

tcope

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What will happen? Anything from nothing (as has happened in court) to the full charge allowed by law.
 

45er

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Some good advice here but the issue raised a question for me. Would the flight log be specific enough to prove to the policeman that you did not fly close to his house trying to peek into the windows? If so, that may be a way to discredit this idiot and you might even be able to issue a complaint for falsely accusing you of something.
 

reh4686

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I have a neighbor that's really a piece of work.. I do believe I've mentioned my lovely neighbor on here before. I live in a rural area and I've been flying from my home around the neighborhood for the past year-and-a-half or better. I definitely do not loiter over anyone's property in fact I'm usually in full speed as I go over and I'm usually at least 300 feet. All my other surrounding neighbors are aware of what I do for a hobby and they're perfectly fine with it because they know I'm not some kind of a deviant trying to peer at their family. Last weekend I was actually up, flying up and down the roads out here trying to help my other neighbor find her dog I was actually flying at 150 ft that day because I wanted to be a little lower to try and spot her dog. Because he saw me FLYING DOWN THE ROAD in front of his house he called the law on me. as I was flying, a cop pulled up and parked in front of my house, got out and walked up to me and says well I guess you know why I'm here. And I replied no not really. That's when he informed me that the neighbor had called and told him I had been hovering low over his property looking in his windows... Haha.. I know! So any pilot that has flown over a day knows what it would take to get down low enough and look in someone's Windows with that drone. He could have knocked it out of the sky with a broom if I had been that low. I wrote a little in here last week about this incident,... so late yesterday evening almost dark I was flying and I Heard a Voice from over there saying "if you fly over my house again I'm going to shoot that down". Personally I don't even believe he could hit it, but let's say he did,... will they really hit him with a federal charge? because from what all I've read it's a federal issue to shoot down an aircraft of any kind including a drone. I've heard all kind of things from all kind of people but I'd like to get a informed response from actual drone Pilots .
I think it's safe to say that most of us have a neighbor (or two) that has nothing better to do than to waste the time of others by lodging unfounded complaints. I recently retired from 30 years with a Federal Agency and II can assure you the odds are against your gun slinging neighbor suffering anything even near what he would deserve if he followed through on his promise to shoot down your drone. Here's how the scenario will go. The police may cite the individual for some minor State or local law or code regarding discharging a firearm within city limits or such an d leave the matter of shooting down the UAS/Drone
 

Jim Flannery K0UNX

de K0UNX, Jim in Jefferson County, Colorado
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I have a neighbor that's really a piece of work.. I do believe I've mentioned my lovely neighbor on here before. I live in a rural area and I've been flying from my home around the neighborhood for the past year-and-a-half or better. I definitely do not loiter over anyone's property in fact I'm usually in full speed as I go over and I'm usually at least 300 feet. All my other surrounding neighbors are aware of what I do for a hobby and they're perfectly fine with it because they know I'm not some kind of a deviant trying to peer at their family. Last weekend I was actually up, flying up and down the roads out here trying to help my other neighbor find her dog I was actually flying at 150 ft that day because I wanted to be a little lower to try and spot her dog. Because he saw me FLYING DOWN THE ROAD in front of his house he called the law on me. as I was flying, a cop pulled up and parked in front of my house, got out and walked up to me and says well I guess you know why I'm here. And I replied no not really. That's when he informed me that the neighbor had called and told him I had been hovering low over his property looking in his windows... Haha.. I know! So any pilot that has flown over a day knows what it would take to get down low enough and look in someone's Windows with that drone. He could have knocked it out of the sky with a broom if I had been that low. I wrote a little in here last week about this incident,... so late yesterday evening almost dark I was flying and I Heard a Voice from over there saying "if you fly over my house again I'm going to shoot that down". Personally I don't even believe he could hit it, but let's say he did,... will they really hit him with a federal charge? because from what all I've read it's a federal issue to shoot down an aircraft of any kind including a drone. I've heard all kind of things from all kind of people but I'd like to get a informed response from actual drone Pilots .

Shooting "into the air" is illegal anywhere, because you can't see (and don't know) where the bullet or pellets will land. Your local Sheriff or Police Dept. has jurisdiction, and the punishment will vary state by state. Armed with the local charge, pass it on to the FAA for additional charges.
 
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Dogbreath

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I don't even believe he could hit it, but let's say he did,... will they really hit him with a federal charge? because from what all I've read it's a federal issue to shoot down an aircraft of any kind including a drone. I've heard all kind of things from all kind of people but I'd like to get a informed response from actual drone Pilots .[/QUOTE]

Don’t be “that guy” in the neighborhood. Fly your drone away from people.

If he takes pot shots at your drone, and you continue with your bad behavior, you’ll be the next target. You don’t need that.
 
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The FAA doesnt have the man power or willingness to react to things like this. If you are in a city, discharging a firearm for any reason is probably a crime. If outside the city, Maybe he gets destruction of property, IF it doesnt crash an his land and he has possesion of the shot down drone.
The real question is, why keep pushing it? Unless you just really love the Drama of pissing off your neighbors just to prove your right (if you even are), why not pack it in a car and drive to where there are no people? You are not supposed to be flying near people anyway.
I think it's safe to say that most of us have a neighbor (or two) that has nothing better to do than to waste the time of others by lodging unfounded complaints. I recently retired from 30 years with a Federal Agency and II can assure you the odds are against your gun slinging neighbor suffering anything even near what he would deserve if he followed through on his promise to shoot down your drone. Here's how the scenario will go. The police may cite the individual for some minor State or local law or code regarding discharging a firearm within city limits or such an d leave the matter of shooting down the UAS/Drone
Think about it, he/she is your neighbor. He is important to you. Neighbors, whom you haven't pissed off, report to the fire dept that your house is on FIRE, while you are someplace else.
What ever his/her issues are they are important to him/her. Respecting their concerns is the wise thing to do!
RCM
 
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svickstc

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So idk about federally but locally if there is an ordinance about discharging a firearm let alone the reckless nature of shooting a firearm aimless into the sky near residential areas.

I’d see more done at a local level then federal, cops don’t want people shooting guns up in the air, it’s extremly reckless and dangering the well fair of others, grounds for any sort of CCW or LTCF permits the owner may have or even prohibited from purchasing firearms in the future if he gets charged
 

DrDrew3

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The legality on a local level depends on the jurisdiction. More populated areas often have ordinances against gunfire in the name of public safety: Unlawful discharge of a firearm. Reckless endangerment. If he hits it there would also be destruction of personal property. If a person is injured by gunfire or a falling drone that's an even bigger issue of course.

The FAA issued a clarification statement that confirmed federal law does apply to unmanned aircraft [link]. Apparently they don't want people shooting down future Amazon delivery drones for sport or profit.

Many places also have statutes that protect citizens from harassment and invasion of privacy. If he warned you about shooting it down and you persisted that could be considered provoking an avoidable incident and could hurt your case.

In such a situation you would both lose. Big legal bill as well. Best to find someplace else to fly because this guy may make good on his threats.
 

AMann

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It’s your right to fly a drone when and where it’s legal, but you do have to ask yourself, is it worth living with and even possibly getting on the news with the neighbor in a negative way? And even if you are in the right, the cops are going to start getting mad at you for stirring things up with that neighbor.

Why not do something entirely unexpected and buy a cheap drone to give to your neighbor to go fly with you? Win him over. If you don’t want to fork out $50, maybe start a gofundme drone ambassadors project, make him your first recipient. It may grow into a cool project with kids and others too!
 
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Jackcutrone

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I am amazed that people are saying you are the bad guy and that you should go fly elsewhere. I don’t agree. However have you considered going to see your unhappy neighbor to talk about it and maybe invite him to watch while you fly. Explain to him how it works. Show him how it would be virtually impossible to see into someone’s windows. And also discuss with him the federal and state and municipal laws regarding shooting into the air in a municipality. Even if it doesn’t work at least you can feel like you did the right thing.
 

DrDrew3

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I am amazed that people are saying you are the bad guy and that you should go fly elsewhere. I don’t agree. However have you considered going to see your unhappy neighbor to talk about it and maybe invite him to watch while you fly. Explain to him how it works. Show him how it would be virtually impossible to see into someone’s windows. And also discuss with him the federal and state and municipal laws regarding shooting into the air in a municipality. Even if it doesn’t work at least you can feel like you did the right thing.

Nobody said the OP was "the bad guy". But several pilots (including myself) advised that it may not be wise to provoke fools who carry shotguns. Its a lose-lose situation that is easily avoided.
 
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