I’m not easily rattled by big numbers. But this one got my attention: “Drone Operator Fined $1.9 Million“.
I immediately wondered, “Geez. What the hell did the guy do?” It turns out he violated FAA regulations for operating in Class B airspace. If he’d used his noodle, he would have operated in Class A airspace; although, he likely wouldn’t have been able to see his drone because of the additional altitude. And his aerial photographs would have been all but useless. Life is, after all, about tradeoffs.
But if you’re in the market for a drone, like I am, none of this should concern you unless you intend to fly your drone in Class B airspace without getting clearance from air traffic control. So, while you may not have to worry about a $1.9 million fine (at least not yet), there are a few other things to bear in mind as you contemplate your purchase. More pointedly, you should be prepared to:
- Get beyond the option anxiety. As we experienced drone-shoppers already are aware, the number of drones from which you’ll have to make your choice is surprisingly large. Like choosing a car, underwear, or a spouse, selecting the right drone for you is a highly subjective and deeply personal decision. Finding a Fly Before You Buy program may be your best bet, especially if you can avoid getting fined before making your purchasing decision.
- Keep yourself from getting hung up on aesthetics. Especially if you intend to buy a military drone, you may have to reconcile yourself to the fact that some of them have pretty weird designs. Not to worry. This is not a case in which function follows form. To the contrary: You’ll find that some of the most bizarrely shaped military drones can wreak the most havoc.
- Remember, as with everything else, you get what you pay for. Drones like this Budget Bomber from Radio Shack might be good for seeing if your neighbor’s dog is peeing on your white-wall tires. But you’re likely to suffer some collateral damage if you use it do drop an IED or a homemade nuke. Besides, with Radio Shack stores shutting down like Hillary Clinton’s campaign chances, you’ll have a hard time getting service on the thing.
One final note: Be careful of flying your drone across state lines. Wilbur Antonucci of Kumquat, Idaho, thought he’d save himself a little time (and, ironically, aggravation) by flying his drone a scant five miles to deliver a bundt cake to his mother-in-law, Mildred Dander in Pullman, Washington. Mildred, who apparently had some kind of axe to grind, pressed charges against Wilbur for an alleged violation of interstate commerce regulations under U.S. Code, Title 18, Part I, Chapter 31, § 659.
The case isn’t yet settled. The attorneys, and Mildred, are still droning on.
Image by fill, courtesy of pixabay.com.