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using the Drone around the railroads

Discussion in 'Rules and Regulations' started by Railfan-Eric, May 23, 2016.

  1. Railfan-Eric

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    My friend and I use his Phantom 3 Pro for shooting pictures and videos of trains from the air. the drone allows us to get shots otherwise impossible from the ground without trespassing on railroad property. someone anomalously, on one of my Facebook groups, reported me to the BNSF police for flying the drone over RR property. so out of the blue today the BNSF police and local police showed up at my house. They saw my videos on Youtube and my pictures on Facebook. They said it's illegal to fly drones over RR property no matter what the altitude and if i want to go to the other side of the tracks i have to pack up my drone and get in my car and drive around to the other side. wtf? No where can i find info saying anything about the railroads. all i see is don't fly over people, stadiums or around airports without permission yada yada yada. does anyone have information about flying over RR's in the US? I thought anything above 100ft and below 400ft is fair game besides the federal parks, stadiums, and airports, etc?
     
    #BirdDog likes this.
  2. scottbra9

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    I would think that as long as you are not taking off and landing on RR property. There should be no problem. I have not been able to find anything that states RR property is a no fly zone.
     
  3. Railfan-Eric

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    i know. i even tried telling the officers that i don't see anything about it. supposedly he, the BNSF officer, has documentation that says that but doesn't have it with me. how convenient. I think it's ridiculous. can't even fly it over the tracks to cross to the other side. not even over a public road.
     
  4. EddieM

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    #4 EddieM, May 23, 2016
    Last edited: May 23, 2016
  5. Railfan-Eric

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    i know right? would be interesting to drone the RR and cross paths with the BNSF drone. I'm sure they'd pitch a fit about that too. Drone, droning a drone. hahaha. one time a RR official from BNSF whom i know told me it's illegal to shoot pictures of trains over a fence. it's trespassing.
     
  6. tcope

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    My first question to them would be, please give me information about this law.

    I've done a _LOT_ of searching and have never seen how a RR would be any different then any other land. It's as you mentioned... if you are not on their land then it comes down to not flying in a reckless manner. Call me crazy but I don't see how a drone is going to pose much of a danger to a train. I just can't see anyone claiming it could.

    My recommendation if you want to play it on the safe side is to contact the office and/or those people that came out to your home and ask them to cite the law you were breaking. Once they fail to do this document:

    https://www.faa.gov/uas/regulations_policies/media/UAS_Fact_Sheet_Final.pdf

    I have this document printed up and carry it with my Phantom at all times. It lets all local people know that the FAA and only the FAA can regulate airspace. Those locals are more then welcome to report drone flight to the FAA. Keep in mind (and it appears from your post that you know this) that local people can regulate their own _land_. So if you are standing on their property they can regulate you... but not the drone in the air.
     
    RodC likes this.
  7. Railfan-Eric

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    there's even a youtube video of people flying a drone over the LA police parking lot and the police told them they can't fly at any altitude over the police department or parking lot. that it's illegal. same thing that was told to me today about the RR's. since when does local police have jurisdiction over airspace? granted RR cops have federal jurisdiction but i don't think that counts for the airspace. but i'm not sure.
     
  8. Fat Daddy

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    The best way to approach this, IMHO, is to engage someone in the organization in helping you be compliant. Most law enforcement agencies have a Public Information Officer or something similar. I'm betting BNSF does too.

    If you engage them in "helping you enjoy your hobby in a safe and legal manner," you may find a point of contact that can help you educate the department as to your rights if you ARE allowed to fly and provide you with resources if you aren't.
     
  9. Fat Daddy

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    [​IMG]

    I don't know where you live but this looks like a good start. Sound like it's just ignorance to me but who knows.
     
  10. Railfan-Eric

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    Thanks for the info. i hadn't see this specific info on their site before. i don't know if the higher ups will be any more helpful with the drone laws. it seems that whatever is off limits to the public they want to keep it that way and they don't like it that with a drone we can see more of their diesel shops and RR yards etc.
     
  11. Fat Daddy

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    I'll make a few inquiries myself. I don't think they are operating on good info. A lot of bad information about our hobby is out there.
     
  12. Railfan-Eric

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    I know. it's pretty depressing how the hobby is looked at. Just being a "railfan" alone taking pictures of trains is suspicious enough as most people don't understand the railroad hobby. and dealing with the RR's with trying to take pictures of trains at good spots but trying to stay off their property at the same time. i already had up to 5-6 rocks thrown at my friends drone i was flying, at a public park. didn't see it on the screen till playback on the computer. some college age guy was walking around below throwing rocks at it. i wasn't really focusing on him either. i was low enough the rocks almost hit it.
     
  13. Railfan-Eric

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    any updates on those inquiries?
     
  14. MasterBlaster

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    So did they just give you a warning? What did they say would happen if you were caught again? **** Facebook stalkers.... Nothing better to do then report someone that is producing video that would have otherwise never given us the opportunity to see.
    That sux
    I know I will take slack for this, but I'd love to find out who reported you or where the individuals that stopped by your house live and fly "around" their property for a few weeks, every day.....seeing they took your spot from you, it's only fair :)
    Reminds me of the old neighbors we had as kids, that had to complain that we would make too much noise in the street playing basketball.
    Then we just sat inside playing video games. There is always someone that ruins it for everyone when we are not doing them any harm.

    Sent from my iPad using PhantomPilots mobile app
     
    #14 MasterBlaster, May 25, 2016
    Last edited: May 25, 2016
  15. Railfan-Eric

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    Yeah a warning and stated that if i do it again I will be in big trouble and it's going to cost me.

    I have a train group on Facebook and other railfans like to play drone police and give me lectures and stuff. There's also RR employees that are also railfans that are on there. i don't know if it was intentional or if someone showed the video to the wrong person. but nonetheless I have to fear for my life or well being just posting anything anymore. the RR's have people that work behind the scenes posing on Facebook, and youtube looking for employee violations and railfans trespassing or stealing. I heard the even scour Ebay looking for railroad collectables that they claim are stolen. it's hard to see and photograph Railroad yards, engine shops, RR junctions etc anymore because how strict they are and the fact that lots of the cool stuff can't be viewed from public property.
     
  16. Fat Daddy

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    I just got a reply to my message that they would put me in touch with the "Director of their UAV program". I'll share what I get, if anything. Moving at the speed of government, but at least it's moving.
     
  17. Railfan-Eric

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    who you contact? the FAA? thanks again.
     
  18. Fat Daddy

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    I contacted Special Agent Wells and asked for help.
     
  19. Railfan-Eric

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    FYI I'm in KS. are you a railfan too by chance?
     
  20. Railfan-Eric

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    what's the lowest we can fly over private property without trespassing in most places? isn't it 100ft? on an email list i'm on i get lots of different answers. someone said private property goes up to 400ft.