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Pennsylvania law

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Lozinger, Sep 30, 2014.

  1. Lozinger

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    First-time poster. Great site.

    I've found these two statutes regarding drone usage in Pennsylvania. I'm new to the hobby and am curious to see how they impact flyers on a daily basis.

    Senate Bill 1332 http://www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/billInfo/billInfo.cfm?sYear=2013&sInd=0&body=S&type=B&bn=1332: Concerning the interference of unmanned aircraft in hunting, fishing, etc. Based on what I've seen, this law was primarily intended to protect hunters and sportsmen from activists using drones to watch their activities.

    House Bill 452 http://www.legis.state.pa.us/CFDOCS...d=0&billBody=H&billTyp=B&billNbr=0452&pn=2823: Defines "criminal surveillance". As I understand it, this law was originally intended to limit the use of drones for surveillance by law enforcement and government. An exception is made for "A person who is a passenger or pilot of an aircraft operating in a manner consistent with 74 Pa.C.S. §5501 (relating to ownership of space)." Section 5501 states that individuals "own" the airspace above their property only to the point that their "enjoyment and use" of the property is "interfered" with.

    Here's a good discussion of HB452 with a state representative, attorney and a drone technologist. https://pcntv.com/tuesday-at-900-pm-drones-and-the-law/ The attorney makes a good case that the law is vague and needlessly creates legislation when existing laws are sufficient.

    How do the Pennsylvania folks adjust their flying relevant to HB452? I'm just getting started and am curious how it impacts where and how you fly.

    Thanks!

    PS. This is not a solicitation for legal advice or interpretation...just curious to see what the practical impacts are.
     
  2. BaldEagle

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    I live in the Western suburbs of Philadelphia. I fly in local parks. I am usually avoiding flying over anyone unless I am over 100 feet. I try not to scare anyone in any way. There are a few state parks around here. I fly similarly there.

    I fly from my home. I take off from my property and go to about 400 feet. I then fly around the area at that height. The copter can barely be seen or heard. It is within line of site. No one seems to care that it is up there. I use the camera to take vista shots, sunsets, etc. When I land, I bring it back to my property before descending in the event of an accident on descent it will land on the property.

    I do not fly over anything that might be considered sensitive. No power plants, transformers. No sewage treatment plants. I honestly don't even like to fly over roads to avoid the possibilty of it falling onto the roadway and risking someone being startled by it. But it is flying over other people's back yards at high altitude on occasion.

    I try to make my flying as "invisible" to the people around me as possible. No drama. No trauma.
     
  3. Suwaneeguy

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    No doubt the first one was written to protect the pidgeon shooters.
    A couple of years ago there was an incident where these privileged, and illegal, shooters were caught on camera by a drone.
    One of the shooters took aim at the drone and shot it down.

    So now it is going to be illegal to capture the illegal acts with a camera.
    George Orwell was right. Just a few years early.
     
  4. MadMitch88

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    First to be clear --- PA SB1332 and HB452 are not yet "statutes". They don't become statutes until they are ratified by PA General Assembly and become written law. Therefore when you ask "How do the Pennsylvania folks adjust their flying relevant to HB452?" --- it's an irrelevant question at this point because HB452 is not even a law. Fly your drone in PA skies with relaxation and freedom because this state and this country are not built on fictitious laws (yet). :p

    Both these pending bills seem to be straightforward and clear in their intent, but many proposed drone laws are resting in a huge quagmire of "many complex shades of gray". How exactly does someone define "criminal surveillance" when it comes to drones? It's pretty easy for the average person to say that a neighbor tapping your phone or hacking into your email is "criminal surveillance" --- but if my house is up on a hill overlooking your property, am I not committing "criminal surveillance" every time I sit on my deck sipping a coffee and look down into your backyard to see what you're doing? It's perfectly legal for me to sit on my deck and use a pair of binoculars to look through your house windows and see your wife walking around in her underwear. So why is it "criminal surveillance" if a drone is doing the exact same thing (viewing things from a higher altitude) ?? If this is defined as criminal surveillance, then you could file charges against every private and commercial manned aircraft that flies over your property, correct?

    I didnt read the details of SB1332 but in other states laws have been passed to protect against "unethical hunting" via the use of drones. I hunt occasionally and detest the idea of using drones to shoot animals. However, isn't a Phantom Vision just a camera in the sky? It's not illegal to stand on top of a cliff and use binoculars to spot game, so why is a plastic toy hovering in the air using a camera any different? Many shades of gray, indeed.

    Bottom line is --- all these paranoid and mostly Luddite legislators at the state and federal level don't realize the uphill battle they will be fighting in the courts for many years to come. It's not easy to ban a certain kind of technology from the public, esp. when that same technology holds enormous economic potential for the future. Right now, the legislators have the upper hand because our hobby is still somewhat nascent and mostly confined to "early adopters" and "geeks" who find UAVs fascinating. But just wait until drones hit critical mass with the public and then you'll see who has the upper hand. It will be all of us Drone Lovers, and what a glorious dawn of a new age it will be !! :D
     
  5. Lozinger

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    Mitch, Thanks for the clarification about both bills not yet being passed by the GA. It's not easy to find the history or status on the PA legislative site.

    Regardless, I agree with you about the difficulty of contrasting photography taken with a drone vs from an already-exisiting public view...which is why I was looking for how folks dealt with it. I also agree with you that it's just a matter of time before drone usage reaches critical mass.
     
  6. Lozinger

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    Thanks for the explanation, BaldEagle. I'm with you...play it safe and don't let 'em know you're there.
     
  7. Paul K

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    The bill 1332 means to protect wiled life (no hunters) In Canada and I thing in most US states is illegal to use aircraft or UAV to scout/track or hunt animals.
     
  8. MadMitch88

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    There are many states with wildlife protection laws like this now, but it's going to be very hard to enforce it in the coming years with UAVs becoming more powerful in range and telephoto capabilities. How is a game warden going to arrest a hunter for using a drone when his buddy is operating it from over a mile way and using a 40X optical zoom lens to spot game while the drone hovers 400 ft. in the air? I'm pretty sure most state game wardens don't have military-grade radar equipment in their truck to monitor the flight path of a high-flying drone back to the takeoff point. All the hunting buddy has to do is text GPS coordinates to the hunter of where the game is, and the hunter quickly locates it on Google Maps. Are they going to ban cell phones during hunting as well?
     
  9. tpallred

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  10. Paul K

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    As a hunter I would use UAV to scout the hunting area way before hunting season ( what is perfectly legal) but for hunting one should use ethics and hunting skills that's what makes hunting THE HUNTING.
    I know there are people who are going to take advantage of this technology ,but I think wardens won't stay behind .
     
  11. MadMitch88

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    I agree with you that using UAVs during hunting season is unethical and not compliant with the idea of "fair chase". However, there's a lot of scummy hunters out there who only care about bagging a trophy buck and could care less how they get it --- some would be perfectly happy hitting it with their car on the 1st day of rifle season so they can get back home and plop down in front of the big screen TV and scratch their sack !! So unfortunately, these types of douchers will be using UAVs in the years ahead to get a competitive edge over ethical hunters like you and me. Sad to see it happen, but it's a sign of the coming Age of Drones. :|
     
  12. REBELimgs

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    I was literally just stopped by a park Ranger in a PA state Park (Tyler State Park) and told (although politely) that I couldn't fly in the park. I asked why that was the case and he mumbled on about "FAA rules..." and whatnot. He obviously has no idea what he's talking about but I didn't want to give him a hard time as he's probably just doing what he feels is right.

    I refuse to believe what he says is true, however. I was in the most open part of the park and there's plenty to of wide open space here and no one else around.

    I'd rather have some "ammo" to help on my next experience with uninformed people such as this Ranger. Any advice?
     
  13. SteveMann

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    Ask him, "What rule"? Tell him that if he could quote an FAA rule, then you will follow it. Also ask if he had been deputized by the FAA to enforce their rules? You might quote 49 USC § 40103 - Sovereignty and use of airspace:

    49 USC § 40103 - Sovereignty and use of airspace
    (a)Sovereignty and Public Right of Transit.—
    (1)
    The United States Government has exclusive sovereignty of airspace of the United States.

    The Park Department may make policy where you can takeoff and land, but flight is not in their jurisdiction.
     
  14. SteveMann

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    I want that drone!.
     
  15. REBELimgs

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    I'm not currently in his company. I do intend to return, however. What's the worst he could do if I keep flying?

    I don't cause trouble but if it's not illegal to fly, I'd rather not be bothered.

    Should I just contact someone at the park and ask if it's a problem?
     
  16. SteveMann

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    DO NOT use the word "Drone". It generates a visceral reaction from anyone in any level of authority. Call the park department and ask: "Where may I fly my model aircraft in state parks"? If they say nowhere, then ask where you may see this rule in print. If they have a few locations that are OK to fly, then use them. But, don't say "Drone". The word tightens sphincters.
     
  17. REBELimgs

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    I've spoken to other people who've flown in the same areas and they didn't have any issues. I believe it might have something to do with my appearance but that's a whole different thread.

    I've sent emails to the 2 parks I've been asked to leave. We'll see how they respond. I chose to email them so I could have a copy of their response should I be asked to leave in the future.
     
  18. SteveMann

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    If they say flat out, no drones, ask for the specific rule or policy statement and where can you see it.
     
  19. REBELimgs

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    Here's the response I got back from one Park...


    "Thank you for your email concerning Tyler State Park.



    Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), remotely piloted vehicles (RPV) or unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), all commonly referred to as DRONES, their commercial and general recreational use is not permitted in PA State Parks. Drones create a variety of safety, wildlife impacts and privacy issues. Therefore, they are prohibited in Tyler State Park and all other PA State Parks. UAS are defined as an aircraft by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). All use of UAS in State Parks must be in compliance with current FAA regulations. Nothing outlined in the park rules and regulations and park directives provides the allowance to supersede FAA regulations.



    http://www.dcnr.state.pa.us/stateparks/findapark/tyler/index.htm



    General recreational and commercial use of UAS are prohibited in parks with the exception of recreational use at those parks that currently have established flying fields – most commonly referred to as model airplane fields. Those parks are listed below. The existing approved long term flying sites in PA State Parks are as follows:



    1. Beltzville

    2. Benjamin Rush

    3. Hillman

    4. Lackawanna

    5. Prompton

    6. Tuscarora



    If you have any further questions concerning park rules and regulations concerning drones, please feel free to contact me at any time.



    Brian Flores │ Park Manager

    Tyler State Park

    101 Swamp Road │ Newtown, PA 18940

    Phone: 215-968-2021 │ Fax: 215-968-1610"
     
  20. REBELimgs

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    ... And I'd like to point out that one of those parks listed, the only one near me, happens to be in close proximity to a small airport.

    Notice his use of the word drones. I made sure not to use that dirty word and he used it over and over.