Defending your airspace? Private surveillance drone is shot down.

An interesting note on Instapundit sent me to this story regarding the shoot-down of a private surveillance drone.

A remote-controlled aircraft owned by an animal rights group was reportedly shot down near Broxton Bridge Plantation Sunday near Ehrhardt, S.C.

Steve Hindi, president of SHARK (SHowing Animals Respect and Kindness), said his group was preparing to launch its Mikrokopter drone to video what he called a live pigeon shoot on Sunday when law enforcement officers and an attorney claiming to represent the privately-owned plantation near Ehrhardt tried to stop the aircraft from flying.

“It didn’t work; what SHARK was doing was perfectly legal,” Hindi said in a news release. “Once they knew nothing was going to stop us, the shooting stopped and the cars lined up to leave.”

He said the animal rights group decided to send the drone up anyway.

“Seconds after it hit the air, numerous shots rang out,” Hindi said in the release. “As an act of revenge for us shutting down the pigeon slaughter, they had shot down our copter.”

I take note that Mr. Hindi is quite clear in his implication that his activity is completely legal and, therefore, he should not be hassled in his pursuit of said activity. It would be nice for him to take note that the activity in the Broxton Bridge Plantation was just as legal.

I have a number of issues with what went on, here, most of them with Hindi’s group, but I’d like to make a comment on the actions of those shooters that decided to engage the drone in flight. While I understand completely the urge to shoot the thing down, I must give credit to Mr. Hindi’s concern about the line of fire. Those shooters are responsible for where their bullets land when they shoot them, up into the air or anywhere else. The event they were attending was no doubt located there specifically to provide sufficient backstop to the bullets fired so as to keep them safely contained. By engaging the drone, they might very easily have overcome that barrier and some of their rounds might have flown into populated areas unsafely. Not cool, folks.

However, that shooting was severly provoked. While flying that drone may have been perfectly legal – and I would emphasize may have been – it is morally questionable to say the least. I would ask Mr. Hindi and his team to picture themselves at their home where their spouses and children are enjoying a lovely, sunny day relaxing in the sun. In order to provide the family with a comfortable place to enjoy the outdoors the team members all built privacy fences around their yards or patios. Some next door neighbor who happens to sit opposite of them on some issue or another decides to collect video of the family in hopes they’ll do something they’d be uncomfortable having splashed all over YouTube and erects a 35-foot-post in his own yard with a camera mounted atop it so the family can be viewed. Would Mr. Hindi and his team be ok with that?

Or are they presuming they have a reasonable expectation of privacy?

I’m guessing they would not be ok with the ongoing taping of their family on their own property, especially when they went to the trouble of putting privacy safeguards in place, albeit safeguards that proved to be ineffective. So, sure, what “SHARK” did may have been legal. But I would propose that it shouldn’t be.

Either way, a nation’s airspace is all of that above the ground that nations owns or controls. Should private citizens also be able to protect their airspace from unwanted trespass?

To the members of the plantation or anyone else suddenly facing this kind of invasion of privacy, I would recommend a solution that’s far less problematic than firing 9mm rounds into the air. I don’t know what model of drone the SHARK people were using but it appears to me a helicopter-type arrangement and it appears to cost several hundred dollars. May I propose that those targeted by SHARK equip themselves with an Air Hogs R/C Eagle Ray Redeco instead and, rather than fire ballistics, pilot a missile instead? At $30 a pop, you’ll win the economic battle with these people pretty quick.

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