On October 16th, 2015 it was made aware that at least one NYC drone* flyer was arrested at the East River Park in New York City. The arrest represents a sudden change in police tolerance sending shockwaves through the NYC/NJ drone community.
According to information found in the public domain:
Update November 30, 2016: The case was dismissed as a decline to prosecute. Additional updates will be made soon and this event will be archived as we move forward with information gathering. Full conclusion is at the base of this document.
Update April 24, 2016: Carlina wrote back! Details outlined here
iLIKEdrones.com seeks to gain a clear understanding of the laws regulating drones and provide these discoveries as a resource to inform the community.
iLIKEdrones.com operates without bias and is not a platform for commentary on fairness, legality, or policy decisions.
The scope of this work shall include, but not be limited to:
Research, Documentation, and Communication:
In a perfect world everyone would get along and drone pilots could fly, the world would continue to spin and the sun sets in the west as expected.
The FAA has had difficulty meeting various self-stated and government driven goals regarding regulations, definitions, and enforcement policy for drones. Drones are a form of remote controlled airplanes and the hobby of flying remote controlled flight predates the FAA by decades.
The absence of FAA policy has created an environment where local municipalities and governments are addressing drone use in an inconsistent manner.
iLIKEdrones.com has identified the following as goals and outstanding questions:
The following are considered the burning questions that lack clear answers.
Answers need to reference "on the books" code or case-law that can be understood, disseminated in a concrete fashion, and form a basis for valid prosecution.
In the event that iLIKEdrones.com discovers that drone flight is illegal these additional questions require clear answers:
TLDR: I tried my best and no one really cared.
Here is a summary of actions:
In reaching out to Rosie Mendez (New York City Council District 2) regarding the district where the arrests happened and the precinct that made the arrests:
I was told:
"look to help 'other FPV users' to understand the rules and have them join you in flying safely and responsibly. That's the message of THIS meet-up. I hope you get that"
I take great point to the foolishness of the user group in that I was trying to make users aware that they WILL BE ARRESTED and that there are rules dating back to 2006 that makes ALL RC FLIGHT IN NYC AND SURROUNDING AREAS ILLEGAL.
All the while I was cast as negative for trying to rally interest in changing laws and work with the system.
Stinging and depressing, continue if you wish.
I conclude that few people know the laws. Police and city representatives are commonly underinformed and unknowing. No authority has reason to clarify existing laws, codes, and errors. (Drone) Pilots should fly at our own risk everywhere, all the time. Orginizations such as the AMA are of little to no value. I wish there was good news, but I can find none.
* Note: The term "drone" is used as a generic term applying to all UAV/UAS technology unless otherwise specified.