Flying Drones under-the-radar is now much harder

About a year ago, I wrote a column about the number of people I have come across since I have been flying who were admittedly..



Flying Drones under-the-radar is now much harder
Friday July 19th 2019 - 11:53 AM EST

By: Air Aspects

About a year ago, I wrote a column about the number of people I have come across since I have been flying who were admittedly flying for clients without an FAA license or liability insurance.

Many people see the drone as a means to get rich quick. They buy a drone and say they're an aerial photographer. However, once they buy the drone, they find out that there are requirements for registration, FAA testing, and licensing.

Since these cost more money, and involve studying, people put it off or decide not to get licensed at all.

All of the unlicensed people I have met have had a, "They can’t find me," sort of attitude. They think they are fine flying without a license or insurance because nothing is going to happen.


I can usually spot an unlicensed pilot because of how they are behaving. Many times they are hiding behind buildings, bushes, or dumpsters. These people believe that they can hide, get photos or videos, and be landed and away before anyone can report them and have law enforcement show up. That may have been true a year ago, but it is not the case anymore.

For Fourth of July, my family and I took our sailboat to Yorktown to enjoy the events and fireworks. As we pulled into the docks, we spotted a large drone hovering over the water. Once we were tied up, I saw where the drone had landed and went to introduce myself, thinking it was maybe someone taking photos.


For unlicensed pilots trying to avoid fines of up to $20,000 for them,
and for anyone who hired them, simply hiding behind a bush is becoming
a lot less secure method of not being found.


The drone was piloted by a team from the Yorktown Sheriff’s Department who were involved in crowd surveillance and unauthorized drone monitoring.

While we were talking, one of the deputies showed me a very cool drone detection system called AeroScope. On the screen, we could see not only their drone but any others within a three-mile radius.

As we watched, they announced that a drone had powered up. We watched as it took off, and AeroScope showed exactly where it had come from, along with other information such as the drones serial number. Deputies were dispatched immediately and were with the drone owner within two minutes.

This technology is now being implemented by most law enforcement agencies and military establishments.

For unlicensed pilots trying to avoid fines of up to $20,000, and for anyone who hired them, simply hiding behind a bush is becoming a lot less secure method of not being found.

Several things have to be considered when you’re using aerial photos and video to promote yourself. This is where an experienced, licensed and insured photographer can really make you stand out from the crowd.












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