It takes quite a bit for me to get fired up about something, but consider me triggered on this one. Recently, a lot of people in the drone world have been talking about how the hobby of drones is going to end real soon. They're saying that it's due to things like Remote ID, the federal banning of some of the most popular drone brands in the world, or the continued use of drones in world conflicts.
But the fact is, if the drone hobby ends anytime soon, it's not going to be because of these things. It's going to be because of one reason, and one reason only. So when I read this story, I have to admit, it really did trigger a feeling of rage inside of me.
In mid-December of 2023, someone in Papillion, Nebraska area found a drone lying in their backyard. They proceeded to check out the contents of the memory card on their computer. When this person realized the severity of the content on that memory card, they called the Sarpy County Sheriff's Office, who then got a search warrant to discover who owned that drone.
It turned out to be this lowest of low pond scum right here, who used his drone to peep into windows of homes and recorded video. This is the worst part: one of the videos included footage of a 12-year-old girl who was not fully dressed.
I have a 12-year-old girl, and when I tell you the thoughts that went through my mind when I read that, I can't… I can't tell you.
So thankfully, this person is being charged with a couple of felonies, and they should spend a significant amount of time behind bars. And I'm also assuming that he will never be allowed to own a drone ever again as a result of his actions.
This story genuinely impacted me very negatively, and not only because I have a 12-year-old daughter, but also because of what this is going to do in the world of drones and what it's going to do in the general public's eye when it comes to drones.
So, I felt a need to make this video because there's a way for us to fight this. There's a way for you and I, who fly drones respectfully, to fight what's coming.
Now, despite what some people think, drones are continuing to rise in popularity and use. These unmanned aerial vehicles come in various shapes and sizes. They're equipped with cameras and other advanced features. They serve a wide range of purposes, from aerial photography to infrastructure inspections, agriculture, delivery services, and just pure enjoyment.
However, the rise in drone usage has also raised concerns about privacy invasion. Privacy is a fundamental right that we all value. Every single one of us, and the ability to live our lives without constant surveillance, is essential for our well-being. Drones, with their ability to capture images and videos from above and out of reach, have the potential to infringe upon this basic right. This most recent example of privacy invasion is just another piece of ammo for the folks that want to rid the skies of these easily obtainable aerial cameras. And I get it, I really do.
There is no denying that criminals will use whatever they have at their disposal to do bad things. But the thing to remember is that the majority of people who own drones are not criminals, and getting a drone doesn't turn you into a criminal either.
My greatest fear is that we see more stories like this in the News, and that lawmakers will start to make more laws that punish law-abiding citizens to mitigate misuse by non-law-abiding citizens. It's the same old story that we've seen in so many other sectors of our lives. The general public is fickle, and when news organizations keep sharing more and more stories of drone misuse, it's only a matter of time before a movement begins. It starts with maybe a few people, coworkers, visiting in their break room about what they just saw on the news about this creep peeping in someone's windows.
Then one of those people visit about it with their neighbors a few days later, and one of those neighbors might be a local lawmaker or local law enforcement or something like that. Then this lawmaker reads a few articles about it and then discusses drone privacy with his fellow lawmakers, and the next thing you know, there's a bill in front of the legislature to ban the use of drones altogether. No one will ever speak to a drone pilot, no one will ever gather the full picture before drafting a bill.
They will continue to feed on the fear and share a one-sided story that motivates people to vote the way that they want, and before you know it, the movement spreads to other districts, to other states, and soon you won't be able to fly a drone anywhere for any reason. This is my greatest fear for this hobby: a few bad apples influencing the direction of our way of life.
5 Things you can do to save the drone hobby
So, the reason for me making this video: How do we, as drone enthusiasts, as well as professional users, prevent the noose from tightening? What are some ways that we can ensure the general public, as well as local leaders, are informed enough to not have knee-jerk reactions when they see a disturbed person in the news using drones in a bad way, just like this most recent story
So, I have five suggestions that may not sit well with some of you, but if the majority of users follow these five guidelines, we can certainly mitigate the end of this hobby that we all enjoy.
1. Learn the drone, rules and regulations
First of all, you need to familiarize yourself, not only with the general rules of flying drones in your country but also locally. There's starting to be a lot more local guidelines and local rules when it comes to flying a drone. The key to everyone getting along is to know the existing regulations and guidelines. It's a lot more likely that you're going to break the rules if you don't know what they are. So just do a little bit of research. Everything is available online. Knowledge is the first tool in fighting this fight.
2. Don't fly your drone in restricted areas
Secondly, don't fly your drone in restricted areas or locations that you know you shouldn't be flying in. This could be near critical infrastructure, government buildings, publicly attended sporting events, and more. Don't try to push the limits because as more people begin to recognize drones and see drones and realize what they're doing, there will be more reporting to authorities. If you stick to the safe areas, you are less likely to cause concern and sound the alarm.
3. Respect peoples' privacy when flying your drone
Third, and this is about as common sense as it gets, but respect people's privacy by not capturing images or videos of them without their consent, as much as possible. Now, keeping that in mind, you can film people in public areas. There is no expectation of privacy when you are in a public area. So many people don't understand that much like a local news crew, or even a private citizen who's recording with their cell phone, you are not required to ask permission to film people in public. However, if someone does request not to be recorded in public, you can do the courteous and respectful thing and not record them.
Legally, you can, but for the sake of the survival of this hobby, maybe you shouldn't. And make sure that you inform them that you are respecting their privacy and you aren't going to record them. We have to be good stewards of this hobby, and we have to spread the perception that most drone users are actually really nice people.
5. Be mindful of the surrounding area and flying your drone
Fourth, be mindful of your surroundings. In addition to privacy concerns, the second worst thing that can happen is if you damage someone's property, or the worst thing that can happen, and God forbid, you injure someone with your drone. This is why the visual line of sight is a rule. It protects you, the pilot, as well as anyone and anything around you. It's not just for the purpose of avoiding manned aircraft, it's to protect the many things that we don't even consider when using a piece of technology that can fail at any time, either due to human error or malfunction. Situational awareness is very, very important.
6. Contribute to your local drone community
Lastly, be an active contributor at the local level when it comes to sharing information about drones. Be that person who your local lawmakers can call on when they have questions about drones. Be open and willing to share your knowledge and experience because truthfully, not all lawmakers are bad. Many of them actually want to make a difference in their community, and they want to be informed. But with as many things that they have to deal with, they may not have the time to research everything, and drones are most likely at the bottom of a very long priority list for them.
If you stay in touch with your local lawmakers and you let them know who you are and what you know, they may call upon you for information if something related to drone restrictions comes to their desk. It's just like any other issue in your community, be proactive in how future laws are determined. This is one of the most important ways that we can avoid the tidal wave of drone restrictions. Mitigate regulations at the grassroots level.
While regulations and technological advancements play a vital role, it's also essential for drone owners and operators to be responsible. Educating yourselves about the laws and guidelines, as well as understanding the impact of your actions, is crucial to ensure the longevity of this hobby and the continued use at the commercial and industrial levels as well. We all play a role in the survivability of one of the greatest hobbies in the world.
So, this is my call to action for all of you: be good stewards of this hobby, be as respectful as you can, try to follow every rule as much as possible. We all know there's going to be times where you might bend the rules a little bit, and I think that's okay, but just understand that when you are doing that, that you're always going to come back to the foundation: follow the rules.
A big thank you to DroneXL for sharing the story that prompted me to make this video.
Also, I want to thank everyone who's been so supportive over the past 8 weeks for myself and for my family. For those of you who are wondering, my wife has been actually doing quite well through her treatment for the past 8 weeks, and I'm certain that your prayers and your thoughts have been a huge part of her progress.
So, we kind of hit a milestone now. We're through the really hard stuff, but we're about to enter the next phase, and during this next phase of her treatment, it's going to be a time when she's not going to be able to work as much. She's been working full-time, which is a blessing, and I can't believe it. She's an inspiration, but a time is coming where she's going to have to back off a little bit on working.
So, if any of you have a desire to help, some people ask, so I'm going to put it out there. If you want to become a channel member, it's as little as $1.99 a month. It helps support the channel, you're going to get a little extra content, plus it helps support me and my family as we go through this journey. It is not necessary, your continued prayers and your thoughts are more than enough. You watching my videos on a regular basis is the ultimate thing that you can do, but if you do want to help additionally, consider becoming a channel member. I truly appreciate that.
And then also, I'm going to be selling some of my 51 Drones hats here. I kind of been putting that off because I kind of want to keep them exclusive to just a few friends and family and myself, but so many people have requested, “Hey, when are you going to sell hats?” So, I'm going to sell hats. So, I'm looking forward to that. It's just this hat right here. It's got the logo on the front and it's got 51 Drones on the back right there. I only have about 20 of them right now.
I'm going to list them on Gear Focus. Once I have them listed, I'll put a link in the video description, right under my Amazon affiliate link. My printer is printing more, but it takes them about four to five weeks to get them to me. So, if you miss out on this first batch, just know that more are coming. So, be patient. And every video from this point on, I'm going to be putting that link in there for the hats. So, if you see the link in the video description, go ahead and click on it, and you'll see if there's hats available.
Hit that thumbs up on your way out of the video today if I provided you with any information of value. I truly appreciate that. Subscribe to become a part of the family. I want you to have a great day, everyone. And as always, fly safe and fly smart.
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