Man Faces Jail for Flying Drone Over Hangout Fest: Here’s Why It’s Illegal

Arrest at Hangout Fest for Drone Flight

A 25-year-old man from Foley, is facing jail time after flying his drone over Hangout Festival in Gulf Shores, violating local laws, reports AL.com. The arrest highlights the restrictions on drone flights over public beaches and event venues.

Illegal Drone Flights

Detective Carl Wittstruck of the Gulf Shores Department explained that flying drones over Gulf Shores beaches and events like Hangout Fest is illegal without proper permits. Despite this, the Foley man flew his drone over the festival twice.

“This gentleman flew his drone over the event the day prior (to his arrest),” Wittstruck said. “He actually buzzed our (police) drone, like in Top Gun. I don't know if he knew it was our drone or not, but probably not a smart thing to do.”

Police Setup Sting Operation

Knowing the man's launch location from the previous day, police set up a sting. The man launched his drone again the next day, and officers quickly apprehended him.

Local and Federal Drone Laws

In 2018, Gulf Shores implemented laws prohibiting drone flights over public beaches without a city and FAA drone license. Violators face fines up to $500 and six months in jail. Nearby Orange Beach has similar regulations, allowing only permitted commercial and event drone use.

While Alabama lacks statewide drone laws, federal regulations apply. Recreational drone pilots must take the FAA's test and follow model aircraft rules. Commercial pilots must comply with FAA's Small UAS Rule, including obtaining a Remote Pilot Certificate.

Increasing Arrests for Drone Violations

Wittstruck anticipates more drone-related arrests in the future. “For us, it's about safety and security,” he said. “You can't tell in this day and age what a drone may be used for. People are using drones for all sorts of things these days, good and bad.”

He noted that the nearby Jack Edwards requires even to get clearance from the tower, emphasizing the complexity and necessity of following regulations.

“For $300 you can buy a good quality drone,” Wittstruck added. “You don't know what the training or experience level is of some of these hobbyists. Certainly, there are those who are proficient, understand what they're doing, and follow the laws and regulations. But there are certainly others who don't.”

DroneXL's Take

This incident underscores the importance of adhering to drone regulations to ensure public safety and security. As becomes more accessible, awareness and compliance with local and federal laws are crucial. While drones offer significant benefits, responsible usage is key to preventing potential hazards and legal issues.

Photo courtesy of AL.com


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Haye Kesteloo
Haye Kesteloo

Haye Kesteloo is the Editor in Chief and Founder of DroneXL.co, where he covers all drone-related news, DJI rumors and writes drone reviews, and EVXL.co, for all news related to electric vehicles. He is also a co-host of the PiXL Drone Show on YouTube and other podcast platforms. Haye can be reached at haye @ dronexl.co or @hayekesteloo.

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