Despite drone safety being one of the most important topics since the industry took off, I still see many pilots ignoring even the most basic guidelines.
I'm not talking every once in a while. I'm talking about half the time I'm wondering around in public and see a drone up above.
It makes sense. These are powerful machines that can do a lot of damage to humans, other living things, and property, and they're operated by humans. As we know, the potential for human error is quite high no matter what you're doing.
So it baffles me that a drone pilot, who should understand the risks before taking to the air, will ignore even the most common sense safety guidelines (or is completely unaware of them).
Here are some of the things I've seen recently:
- A pilot flying way past 30 minutes after sunset (very dark)
- Multiple pilots flying over people at a parade
- An obviously recreational user losing sight of their UAV
Yes, you can now get a certificate of waiver to fly outside of these rules/guidelines, but a guideline like not flying over people, especially a crowd of people, is something that makes intuitive sense not to do — whether it's a rule or not.
(If the aircraft loses connection and falls to the ground, you could injure people. Duh!)
So why are these guidelines still not being adhered to by a large number of pilots?
I think some simply don't want to follow them. Getting the shot is more important than being safe. Or it's because they think the odds of something happening are so low. Or, at the least, the odds of getting caught are low.
For the most part, I think the industry has done a good job of spreading awareness. Websites like Know Before You Fly, blogs in the industry, and even the guidelines that come with a drone when you buy one make them pretty easily accessible.
So maybe it's up to us, the responsible flyers, to speak up when we see someone flying unsafely. Yes, it's uncomfortable. Yes, you might be inviting conflict. But I think you are also helping improve the overall safety of the industry, and that is going to be instrumental for us moving forward.
If you'd like a refresher on drone safety, check out these excellent articles: