DJI Ban Updates, Drone Stalker Arrested, Drones for Good, & Flite Fest 2024

Welcome to the Weekly UAS News Update. We have five stories for you this week. First off, an update on the DJI Ban. Secondly, a creepy drone stalker who got arrested, a story, Flite Fest, and a correction to last week's segment!

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DJI Drone Ban Update

First off, an update on the DJI drone ban. A bill that is very similar to the Countering CCP Drone Act is expected to be introduced in the Senate. It's been reported that John Tester, a Democrat senator from , will be the one introducing the bill. It would involve adding DJI to the FCC covered list.

The items covered in that list cannot be imported or used in the . This includes prohibiting FCC approval for any future DJI equipment. It's important to note that this would not necessarily brick your current drone. This is only a proposal to ban future DJI equipment, which is still bad on its own, but not as bad as bricking your current equipment.

Please make sure that you check the Drone Advocacy Alliance website for the most up-to-date information on this. All of this is changing very quickly, so we recorded our news update on Wednesday. There's no new information on the current bill again this week. We're still waiting to hear whether or not the Countering CCP language was actually added to the Senate version of the NDAA.

The introduction of this bill by Senator Tester might actually be a sign that Stefanik's attempts were not successful last week at putting it into the NDAA language.

Drone Stalker Arrested

Next up this week is a man from who was arrested for using a drone to stalk and harass teenage girls. Canonsburg received a few complaints about drones, but things took a turn after the suspect apparently interacted with a 13-year-old girl.

During the investigation, the police learned that 44-year-old Michael Brachman had allegedly used his drone to follow a 13-year-old girl, 80 to 90 times, nearly any time that she went outside. The police also discovered five additional cases involving children. The police then arrested Brachman, who is currently held on a $10,000 bond.

Drones for Good Story

Third up is a story from last month that just became public. In Lakewood, , police used a drone to save an intoxicated teenager. Police were called after a group of teenagers reported a friend who had been wandering off and was very intoxicated. A drone operator using a thermal camera was dispatched to the call and found a teen lying in a small bush. Upon reaching the scene, the teen was not breathing and CPR was successfully performed. Great job to the Lakewood Police Department for saving this person.

Flite Fest 2024

Next up is Flite Fest, happening right now as you are watching this. If you're unfamiliar with Flite Fest, it's an RC airplane meetup that has been going on for several years now. They're celebrating their 10-year anniversary this year. It includes building foam airplanes, testing them, and flying them. It's a ton of fun.

The event is held in and goes throughout the weekend. If you're in the area, please go and visit them. It's a great team of folks at Flite Fest. We're sad that we couldn't make it this year, as we have a lot on our plate at the end of this year, unfortunately, with the new building and a bunch of other things. But we will be back at Flite Fest next year, and are excited to see the whole team again. Congratulations to all of them for 10 years – it's a big accomplishment.

Correction to Last Week's Story

Lastly, I wanted to do a correction to a story that we talked about last week regarding the lawsuit between the Coalition of Drone Operators and the University of Michigan. We make mistakes from time to time, and I think in this case, it's important to make a correction.

The lawsuit against the University of Michigan is not actually about airspace or Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) jurisdiction, as we reported last week. Rather, the lawsuit is focusing on the Michigan State UAS preemption law, that essentially prohibits political subdivisions such as cities, counties, townships, schools, and universities from creating and enforcing their own drone ordinances. This is important because a few states in the United States have such preemption restrictions. is also one of them.

The Michigan Coalition of Drone Operators has previously sued Jersey County and Ottawa County and won at every court, including the Michigan Court of Appeals, to create that statewide precedent. The University of Michigan has actually threatened drone operators with arrest, fines, and jail time for even launching, landing, or operating on the public campus. By state law, they are not able to do so.

I want to say thank you to Ryan Latourette, who's a part of the Coalition and also fairly well known in this industry, for sending additional information and correcting what we mentioned.

That's it. Have a great weekend. We'll see you on Monday for the live stream, and if not, we'll see you next Friday for the news update.

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Greg Reverdiau
Greg Reverdiau
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