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Do you own your airspace?

No, you don’t. Still this story about folks at a pigeon shoot shooting down an animal rights aerial drone raises some interesting questions:

Animal rights groups buy aerial drones?

And then send the expensive contraption to a pigeon hunt where there are shotguns and people like to shoot things out of the air?

Is shooting it vandalism?

22 Responses to “Do you own your airspace?”

  1. Skyler Says:

    No, you don’t own the airspace above your house, but my understanding is that this applies to air space for air traffic and unless you’re next to an airport, you still control 500 feet above the ground or any building.

    So, it seems that there is an argument for trespass. I don’t know if that civil tort would give rise to excusing shooting down the drone. I hope it does.

    For instance, if the CIA or other entity such as PETA were to remotely guide a small insect sized drone onto my property or even into my house, I will most certainly take a fly swatter to it, and I don’t care what anyone says about it.

  2. mikee Says:

    I will only note that the story told by the filthy hippy anti-rights fringe semi-terrorist group is contested by the law-abiding pro-animal civic responsibility hunting group.

  3. D2k Says:

    Civilian UAVs are in licensing limbo right now and are restricted to the standard limitations of RC vehicles.
    Which means if the environmentalist group was at any point over the pigeon shooters property they were breaking the law, either by being within the envelope of privately owned space or by being within FAA controlled space without a license to do so (as it is currently impossible to get such a license)

  4. andy Says:

    Years ago SHARK had a helicopter shot down at the Wing Pointe pigeon shoot in Pa. I would just buy a $39 RC plane and go crash their little hexicopter.

  5. Nylarthotep Says:

    Seems the lawyers aren’t as certain as you are. Volokh Conspiracy is discussing it.

  6. Kristopher Says:

    D2k: The FAA only regulates RC craft if they are flying more than 500 feet above the ground in controlled airspace ( near an airport, basically ).

    So a license isn’t needed, and FAA permission is only required if you intrude on some airport’s landing pattern.

    If it is something big and dangerous, like a serious hobbyist rocket, the FAA would like a courtesy notice so they can publish a NOTAM ( notice to airmen ) to not fly over the launch site that day.

  7. Douglas2 Says:

    “So a license isnít needed, and FAA permission is only required if you intrude on some airportís landing pattern.”
    Tell that to all of the people running aerial photography business who have had nice letters from the FAA shutting them down:

    Then look up “Broxton Bridge Plantation Airport” and find a public road near the plantation that is not with the 2350′ wide safety zone of the runway.

  8. Jake Says:

    Legal questions aside, I have to call BS on it being “shot down”. Looking at the video, they conveniently seem to have eliminated any footage of the actual shooting. The camera on the ground doesn’t capture either the shooting or the landing at all (which is odd because the cameraman does a very good job following it right up until the landing), but you can hear it bounce on the landing. The footage from the on board camera (shown at the end of the video) is edited to stop before any supposed shooting.

    Am I the only one that thinks that if it had actually been shot, they would not only be showing the onboard camera footage of that moment, but would make that footage the main centerpiece of any presentation or video on the event?

    There’s also a distinct lack of close-ups of any identifiable damage from shot pellets, with the only damage shown being one broken rotor and one broken skid. Again, a somewhat suspicious omission.

    My theory? They flubbed the landing, which caused the damage. The suspiciously sudden inability of the ground-camera operator to keep up with the drone during the landing makes me wonder about how much was planned versus how much was simple opportunistic improvisation.

  9. Dann in Ohio Says:

    OK, so they allege that someone fired a gun towards and over a highway… over which their “flying toy” was flying… which then crashed onto the highway… and if their “toy” had hit a car or caused an accident… ???

    In Ohio, I believe it is illegal to launch, shoot, propel, or fly objects over public roadways… that are not otherwise regulated… such as airplanes regulated by the FAA…

    Dann in Ohio

  10. SGB Says:

    I said in the podcast yesterday that while I am against destroying peoples property, these drone monkeys chose to put their little gadget in a space where gunshots are expected. Plus, to be blunt, I don’t think it happened.

  11. aeronathan Says:

    Kristopher: The FAA does have the authority to regulate RC aircraft at ANY point in the air.

    As of right now, operation of unmanned aircraft for any purpose other than as a hobby within certain size and altitude limitations.

    Thing is, as a 501(c)3 organization, this SHARK organization does not fit the definition of hobbyist that would allow them to fly an aircraft with a camera like this.

    The FAA has shut down several groups for doing VERY similar things within the last 6-8 months….

  12. aeronathan Says:

    Darn. In the above the second sentence should be:

    As of right now, operation of unmanned aircraft for any purpose other than as a hobby within certain size and altitude limitations, is prohibited.

  13. Sid Says:

    The relevant issue is the ownership of the property. On your private land, you have more legal impact up to a certain height. On public property, less so. At least, according to:

    I think shooting down the drone (if that did happen) is lazy. I would suggest aerial combat with another RC plane used in a collision-attack.

  14. Suki Says:

    This is not a case of vandalism, it is a case of justice!

  15. The Comedian Says:

    I’m with Jake on this one. I don’t see any evidence of the ‘copter being shot.

    We hear what sound like gunshots while it is flying, but there is no showing of damage.

  16. Ian Says:

    They show what appears to be rotor damage between the ground camera segment and the UAV segment. They also show someone messing with and landing skid, not sure if that implies damge or not.

  17. Jerry Says:

    Unc, I know that you have other things to consider, medical and otherwise. But, since we share the same county, (Our Blount County), have you noticed all of the signs going up? Along the hiways and byways, that say something a-kin to ‘Speed is ELECTRONICALLY’ enforced. I don’t think they’re talking about radar guns.

  18. B Dubya Says:

    Maybe the situation will become so pervasive, from NGOs and miltarized police forces suveilling us 24/7 from drone aircraft that we will have no option but to go to the Stinger as the means to maintain air superiority.

    Shotguns are for low hanging fruit, only. Rifles are not the optimum solution to high flying unmanned vehicles.

    As far as I am concerned, it’s my airspace at least up to the FAA lower altitude, even if I do not currently occupy it (say, with a building or a very tall radio antenna). Dwell time above a few seconds might result in a defensive response from the present owner.

  19. Robert Says:

    As someone at Volokh said, PETA hasn’t learned the First Rule of Drones: Don’t use until you have air superiority.

    Second, this may be unfair, but it wouldn’t surprise me to learn that pigeon-shooters didn’t manage to shoot down the drone. Wrong flight pattern compared to what they’re used to.

  20. tahDeetz Says:

    In the great airspace debate, I fear everyone is losing sight of the fact that Mr. Hindi’s drone was supposedly “shot down,” while he was protesting the needless “slaughter” of clay pigeons at Broxton Bridge Plantation.

    I personally, blame Big Citadel.


  21. MAJ Mike Says:

    So what’s the best shotgun load for downing drones? I’d appreciate any advice.

  22. Tam Says:


    This was a live pigeon shoot. Live pigeon shooting is legal in PA and is quite a hot-button issue there at the moment.

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