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Worst Encounter Yet

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by tcope, Sep 26, 2016.

  1. tcope

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    I've had only one other encounter and the one that took place today was by _far_ the worst....

    A 4 day trip down to Monument Valley. Got some great shorts of Mineral Basin just outside of Canyonlands National Park. This is where Thelma and Louise drove their car off the cliff. Head out Canyonlands and got some great shots over the Potash Ponds (deep blue and green in color). Flew the Phantom over the road where Forrest Gump turned around after his run. Great shots of Moki Dugway near Mexican Hat as well as of Monument Valley.

    In the way back I planned on stopping at the Mars Desert Research Station outside of Hanksville, UT. This is from their website:

    Mars Desert Research Station

    Public Visits to MDRS
    We receive a lot of requests to visit the Mars Desert Research Station (MDRS) in Utah. In addition, a number of you stop by the facility (unannounced). We welcome each and every one of you, however, during the annual MDRS field season, which runs from September through May, please respect that our simulation-isolation facility is intended for research and testing to help further our understanding of human Mars exploration.
    We kindly ask that you do not approach the MDRS station if you don’t see anyone in the area. During this time, the crew will be in full simulation, meaning they are either inside the habitat or out in the field carrying out important research, but they are definitely there and should not be disturbed or approached. If you are in the area, please stay on the main road for viewing.

    If you happen to stop by on a day when there are people outside the MDRS station who are not in spacesuits, then you have arrived on a crew change-over day or during a crew work visit day, both of which means the crew is not in simulation. On these occasions, you can come up to the station and ask if it is possible to have a brief tour of the habitat. If convenient, we will be happy to show you around and talk a little about what we are doing.

    My parents were with me (each 82 years old). We drove in the 7 miles and did not see anyone. There were 3 or 4 vehicles parked there. No one was outside. The station is located on BLM land and just off a public dirt road (Cow Dung Road). I drove about 1/4 mile past the facility and stopped on the dirt road so that I would be bothering anyone. I got the P4 out and had been getting some shots of the facility for about 7 minutes when an older lady drove up on her ATV and started to yell at me. She was telling to me to leave and that this was private property. I explained it was BLM land and not private property. She continued to yell at me and was very hostile. I asked her to stop yelling so that we could have a conversation. At this point she was about 6" from me and continued to yell. She told me that they leased the land and that I could not fly over their property. I told her she needed to call the police then. She said we were within 5 miles of an airport. I told her to call the FAA and that I was not going to speak to her as she was just yelling. She then threatened to get a gun and shoot down the drone (big shocker there). She then slapped my arms while flying the P4 and knocked the controller to the ground, which was purposeful. I won't mentioned what happened next as this is the Internet. After the moments just after the assault, I then told her that she needed to leave the area and recommended that she call the police. She refused and stated that they would not do anything. I told her I needed to worry about getting my drone back now that she knocked the controller out of my hands and to the dirt. She then proceeded to tell my parents that she expected "older" people to act differently. She got on her ATV and appeared to be starting it. I told her I'd leave once she left the area (as I did not want to move my truck while she was still right there.

    This was a really bad encounter. I'm very upset that it happened that way. Clearly she was not in control of herself and there was no way I could have a conversation with this person. I just feel sick that some people have such a negative view about drones. It's always made me apprehensive about flying as I clearly don't want to offend anyone and want to set a good example. IMHO, this person simply needed to act like an adult and have a conversation. If she has simply asked me not to fly, I would have come back for a landing and packed up. But to approach, do nothing but yell, lie about the area and then assult me? I'm embarrassed that my parents had to witness this. I'm also glad someone was there to _be_ a witness.
     
  2. RJ_Make

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    I don't understand, if you were not breaking any laws why didn't you call law enforcement?

    That type of behaviour should not be tolerated.

    Sent from my ASUS_Z00AD using Tapatalk
     
  3. tcope

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    Don't know if I even had cell service there and don't know who'd I'd call. 911 would have been of no help. What kind of police vehicle would be able to drive 7 miles out on a rough dirt road? Even if I managed to get ahold of someone and that someone could drive out, it probably would have taken them a good hour.

    I had no idea that the person was going to do what they did. Once she did, I was prepared to leave. Waiting for the police to show up would not have helped me one bit at that point. Since the mars station has been there for 12 years and I was flying a drone for the day, what do you think the police would say anyway.
     
  4. tevek

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    Hi there, whilst it is unfortunate that your parents had to witness such appalling behavior, it looks like you have done the right thing and most importantly not escalated it to somewhere not deserving. Don't worry about it too much, I have come across similar people over here in Australia that you learn just to ignore and pity. The reference to the gun is something new for me, and given that it is Australia, would have taken a photo and any other details of the individual and forwarded that straight to the local police. They go absolutely ballistic over here when you utter the 'gun' word.
     
  5. GMack

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    Couple of things about this.

    One, the woman on the ATV sounds like a rancher who may have a lease from the BLM so technically she is the manager. I know one property manager who uses an ATV to patrol a mine which is on some 100 year lease with the BLM and hired to keep trespassers out and he is always getting into run-ins with people who ignore the no trespassing signs and challenge him. Some trespassers sneak in and shoot out their shop windows so he does carry a weapon. She may have been in some capacity there on a land lease for ranching or some mineral rights lease. Even the crazy ones (Think "Crazy Cat" lady.) who might run some wild horse or burro shelter thing comes to mind too - and crazy isn't worth dealing with. My dad was a farmer in AZ and had many encounters with people who stole stuff at night, although his shotgun rounds ran off a lot. Desert people can go bat crazy on city folk, imho.

    Second, had you also checked the B4UFly app, the MARS place is within the 5 mile radius of Hanksville airport (Barely, but still in there.) so she was right there too. There are several Verizon towers in the area along 24 so you should have had pretty good LTE data service or roaming out there. One is between Hwy. 24 and the MARS facility too.

    Her slapping the control out of your hands is inexcusable though and likely why she left. Most Utah sheriffs have off road vehicles or SUV's too, but you're right they may have done nothing too.

    If you do get challenged or asked to leave, inquire as to what is necessary for you to shoot there as a means to defuse the situation. I did that at one place when I ran up against a badge and it worked out to my satisfaction, although it cost me a bit to do so with the actual owners he steered me to.

    Chalk it up to a bad day. If you haven't been yelled at for flying a drone, you haven't flown enough.
     
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  6. y2keable

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    I'm going to start wearing my GoPro on a chest mount, people here in England are even less understanding and our laws are more restrictive.
     
  7. Cobs

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    Just go to Greenland, thats where the Mars Rover is ;) ... or was it Devon Island, Canada hmmm.

    I think if someone was giving me grief i would bring my drone back quickly to try and record what is going on around me when i bring it back to land, bit of video evidence can go a long way and may deter such aggression if they know they might be recorded doing it.
     
    #7 Cobs, Sep 27, 2016
    Last edited: Sep 27, 2016
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  8. RJ_Make

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    I understand there is a time and place to stand up for ones rights and perhaps this was not one of them. (assuming you where not violating any laws/regs)

    That said, sitting down allowing this woman to assault, attempt to damage your equipment and threaten you by shooting down your drone with a firearm is doing no one in this hobby any service. 'The only thing needed for evil to flourish is for good men to sit down and do nothing.' For me, any minor inconveniences on our part is insignificant to the greater good that may save someone else life later. Who knows what this lady is capable of. Today she threatens to shoot down your aircraft, tomorrow she decides she's going to shoot the pilot. IMO this behavior is unacceptable and if left unchecked will escalate.

    As for 'what do you think the police would say anyway' Does it matter?, she assaulted you, attempted to damage your equipment, topped of with a threat to return with a gun and you had 2 witness to the entire event. At the very least the police would have the event on record.

    If this was just a matter of a verbal confrontation then yeah sure, finish your flying and land the aircraft no problem, but this was WAY WAY more than that.

    IMO, If we don't stand up for our rights; with education or by rule_of_law then we WILL most certainly loose them.
     
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  9. captainmilehigh

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    I would have to agree with @y2keable above, a video of this situation either by phone or GoPro as he suggested could have ended this confrontation sooner. Knowing that the incident is being recorded tends to subdue some people, but not all. You may still want to file a report to have a record of the incident, including witness statements.



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  10. tcope

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  11. tcope

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    Yes it does. Keep in mind that we had been to all of those prior places and I obtained a lot of video. So there were many cameras around.
     
  12. tcope

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    Several things that kind of make me sick... they have a lot of time, effort and money tied into their project. I'm just flying a drone. So I can leave. I get that and don't disagree. So if the police came out I suspect at best they would tell me to leave. Keep in mind, this situation went from 0-60 in about 10 seconds. She was hostile from the first second so I told her I was not going to talk to her. It would have just turned into a yelling match. I stepped back and told her she should call the police. When she kept yelling I just said that we could not talk with her just yelling at me. I certainly gave her credit when she mentioned the lease and the 5 miles from the airport. I had respect for her knowing the facts.

    It does not always come down to who is right and wrong. Police are more interested in defusing the situation and moving on. In this case they were well established and I moved in on them. The only question would probably have been, how much against me would the situation have been.

    I know I had the right to fly there and this was part of the defensive reason for just telling the person to call the police and I continued on with flying. But certainly if the person just came up, said "nice day" and asked me to stop flying, I would have. We'd probably had a nice conversation about their project. I'm just really disappointed that it did not go that way. No reason why it should not have. I partially blame the media. They make it seem like drones are out to kill everyone and probably why the person mentioned shooting the drone (we all know where she got that from). It's just a real shame that some people don't know how to talk with other people who they don't agree with. Why start with 11 on the 1-10 calm scale.
     
  13. tcope

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    Yes it does.
     
  14. Sagebrush

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    I can't believe you were the vicim of battery, didn't call 9-1-1 (whenever you could) and instead just complain about it on the Internet.

    What do you expect? This gal will do the same thing to the next drone operator.

    SB
     
  15. RJ_Make

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    Far enough, I do appreciate these types of encounters tend to happen very quickly. We can always look back on events like this to help us prepare for the next one. I would add if you were indeed flying within an airports airspace without notice/approval then you indeed made the correct decision to back down as I know you know the severity of that action alone.
     
  16. DividedSky

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    So a few things here.
    1. First, I think this gets back to the common misconception that private land owners also own the sky above them, which is simply not true. I'm not sure at what altitude that FAA jurisdiction starts, but I'm hoping there is clarify around those rules soon. I'm not a lawyer, but I would have to think if you're taking off/landing on public land, you can fly over any private land you wish, as long as it is not a government-sensitive/secure location.

    2. If someone physically assaulted my arms while I was using a very expensive piece of equipment like a Phantom RC, their safety would very quickly be in danger. Period. She may have been crazy, but thankfully she's also lucky.

    3. Some advice that works well for me: I'm always conscious of the 5-mile airport rule, and always contact the tower when appropriate. It seems almost universally in the U.S. that tower management/workers are very prepared to take these calls, and are very appreciative of doing so.

    3a. Doing so also makes you seem much more qualified, law-abiding, and most importantly, legitimate, if questioned by those around you. Saying "I've contacted such-and-such control tower and they are aware of my flight, and have all my information." goes a long way to a private citizen who doesn't know anything about the law.

    3b. So does, "this UAV is registered with the FAA and operates under their guidelines"

    4. Finally, I had a similar experience with someone at a beach near Portland Maine. The beach is a state park which does not forbid drone flights. I flew my PS3 over the water and along the beach one day, and while many people were genuinely curious and asked great questions/were fascinated, the manager of the park approached me, yelled to "land it now!!!" to which I calmly replied, "based on what rule or law?" He explained to me I was in "FCC" violation, which obviously showed me he had no idea about laws or FAA regs, which empowered me more. I told him that I was a 39, very much a grown adult, and yelling at me like I was a 14 year old who just broke his window with a baseball isn't a good idea. He later calmed down, admitted to me he has his own drown (PSA), and uses it to survey the beach. He said his real anxiety was because I was flying it near Roger Goodell's house (NFL commissioner if you don't follow American football), and that because he is generally hated in New England, he has extra security at his home, and this could be seen as provocative. Interesting explanation for sure.

    So to recap, what helps me is A). know your rights, B). Contact a nearby tower/be registered C). Remain calm but stick up for yourself. I get we all have an interest in exposing this hobby to the general public, be we don't have to do so while being screamed at, threatened or assaulted. Think of it along the same lines as taking pictures with your cell phone - don't always comply, challenge when you know you're right.

    .
     
    RJ_Make likes this.
  17. GMack

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    Rural roads are funny.

    I know from personal experience getting commercial shooting permits, even if a road is in some US Forest area that the road isn't necessarily owned by the forest service nor all that public. They act as land stewards or managers, but it is more likely owned by that county's roads dept. that maintains or builds it so they have a bigger say. I had to apply for a very costly "County road encroachment permit" to park my car on a FS road to take photos off in some nearby canyon, even though the forest service has some $5 parking permit to park in the same paved pullout for anyone else (Commercial use means break out your wallet!). Then you get the highway patrol in on it for enforcement and accidents. So it's a three way split: Federal, State, and County you deal with for a rural forest road you think is public. It isn't as clear cut as one thinks it is, and they seem to make up stuff to make it more difficult to dig through to get a permit.

    I personally think the term "public-anything" is an oxymoron in that someone, someplace, owns or controls it (i.e. Public parks with their anti-drone ordinances, etc.). You may pay for it in taxes, but it doesn't mean you can gain access or even use it. Apply for a commercial permit and you'll find out all sorts of interesting stuff - and it will drive you nuts in time, costs, and effort too - but it is truly enlightening. Even the BLM can run you off for trespassing on federal "public" land if the badge of the day decides so. They do it all the time with off-roaders and why the local ATVer's and dirt bikers have so many meetings about this about paying for a green sticker that they cannot use someplace that they used to be able to access. Friends got tickets on a trail and argued to the BLM ranger that there were no signs and they were on a marked trial on the map, but the ranger countered with "Because it's people like you who tear them down." Can't win.

    And yes, the media is feeding the shooters and sundry argumentative in-your-face types which is not making this hobby or business any easier. I could see the entire drone thing eventually being banned short of needing some major production permit, ambulance on site, roads cordoned off, monitors everywhere, people signing off for any drone encounter accidents like a stunt person, just to fly within the city limits. Actually, the thought of a bunch of teenagers flying over my house in George Jetson flying cars on their cruise night is sort of terrifying too and likely to get banned as well

    Only option I see is for the FAA to come up with some sort of sUAV map with approved airspace and flight-ways. Anyone who interferes by shooting down a drone within the maps legal sUAV airspace would be prosecuted. For people with sUAVs operating outside the approved flyways - short of a temporary waiver - the same thing.
     
  18. tcope

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    I mentioned that I needed to leave a few things out. Sorry.

    I hear what you are saying. I think this person may treat future situations a little differently. I did keep asking her not to yell so that we could have a conversation. I also don't think she will be hitting anyone and knocking their property to the ground. If she does not change her mind about how to approach these situations, I don't think anything any thing would stop her from behaving that way.
     
  19. tcope

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    We know that public airspace starts right above the ground. FAA authority starts in _all_ public airspace. The question you may have is what are the property owners (leasors) rights to airspace above their property. Considering the Causby case, my judgement is that you cannot interfere with the intendend use of the land. It's not trespassing persay.

    I don't really want to say what happen at that point as this is the Internet and I don't know if she will take this matter any further. I will say that I think it was the best possible outcome for either of us.

    I do contact the airport when flying within 5 miles. The times that I've been able to reach someone it was very smooth. They have asked when I will fly, at what height and to call them when I'm done. I won't go into details about this situation as it's all wrapped up together. I will mention something interesting.... I have GEO turned on and it did not give me any warning message. According to DJI, the launching point was about 100' into that 5 mile area. I think GEO is a blessing... when it works correctly. It does not appear to be working correctly.

    Then I think you know how I feel. I do my best not to upset people. With situations like this I get that feeling that perhaps I should just not fly a drone as every time I do I feel like I'm throwing a baby in the air while smoking a cig. Perhaps I just need a thicker skin. Almost all of my encounters have actually been good. It's that one out of a thousand that really makes me nervous.
     
  20. Sfgiants24

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    Nobody said anything while you were flying in national parks?


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