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Hawk 1, Drone 0: Bird Downs Quad Copter

Yet another item to add to the pre-flight safety checklist:  A scan of the horizon for signs of birds of prey, such as the red-tailed Hawk which downed a DJI Phantom FC40 when it was flown in a Cambridge, MA park in October 2014.

Pilot Christopher Schmidt reports on his YouTube page that “As soon as he flew at me, I throttled down the props to try to minimize any harm to the bird.”. Schmidt also writes that the hawk emerged unscathed.

 

Drone Pilot Assaulted By Woman On Beach (video)

The sensitivities of individual people, as well as the privacy expectations of the general public, both came into full view during a confrontation between the pilot of a unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) and a woman who appears to have been agitated by the photographer’s activity at Hammonasset Beach in Madison, CT.

Police charged 23-year-old Andrea Mears with 3rd degree assault and disturbing the peace after she allegedly attacked the unnamed 17-year-old photographer (who captured the assault on his iPhone).   A full report of the incident can be read here or at this news coverage published by WFSB TV in Hartford, CT.

Here is the video, which is quickly spawning on YouTube.

Mears is being universally decried on social media with few, if any, people supporting her view that she was entitled privacy at a public beach.   However, the episode underscores the perceived threat some people feel from aerial photography as well as the general confusion which surrounds this fast-emerging form of videography.

Until there is more public acceptance and understanding, here are some best practices for UAV photography pilots:

  1. Prior to production, double check to ensure you are on public property.
  2. Prior to takeoff, identify an isolated area, away from any people or crowds, where you can safely take off and land.
  3. Make any flight passes at an elevation that’s high enough to avoid giving the public a sense they might be injured from the UAV itself.
  4. When you are engaged by a member of the public, clearly identify yourself and the purpose of your video.  Ask upfront if they have any concerns.
  5. Disarm any anger by being prepared to discuss the difference between public and private property, as well as steps you’ve undertaken to protect the privacy of others.
  6. If the project is for commercial use, make sure to obtain the proper permits.
  7. Connect with local authorities in advance of the production to post them on its date/time and steps that are undertaken to preserve public safety.

Anti-Drone Hoodie: Yes, But Do You Have It In XS?

Perhaps Mr. Lucas’ futuristic vision was dead-on when he created the look of Obi Wan Kenobi, as you will see in this gallery of “stealth wear” that helps citizens “fight back against Drone (UAV) surveillance!”  Created by artist-engineer Adam Harvey, the wearable-technology cloaks the wearer from surveillance UAVs.

Note: Not sure if it comes with ultraviolet protection. And break out the Amex Gold card as prices range from $500 to $2,300. (Humor aside: This piece does underscore the need to consider public reaction whenever, wherever you may fly your UAV.)

Benefits and Risks of Drone Video Underscored in Harlem Gas Explosion

Image Courtesy ABC NewsThe use of drones to capture amazing video continues to be a paradox as demonstrated by amateur news footage recorded following the tragic Harlem, NY gas explosion on March 12, 2014.

Video recorded by cameras mounted on a consumer drone showed the immediate aftermath, as a private citizen recorded 30-minutes of footage just as first responders arrived on the scene.  Although the footage was dramatic (revealing the urgency, scope and breadth of the tragedy — and may be used by investigators seeking to analyze what happened), the widely-seen footage will no doubt draw the attention of the FAA, as reported in depth by in this post by John Jeff Roberts with GigaOM.

For online marketing professionals the take-away is clear.  Step very carefully into the use of drones to capture video for commercial purposes.