Drone be an idiot

Section: 
News

Regardless of what you call it - a drone, a model aircraft or an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) - use a little bit of common sense when you put it in the sky.

Over the last few weeks, the Huron County OPP has investigated several cases of drones illegally flying over private properties, particularly in rural areas. Understandably, citizens have concerns for their safety and security when they spot these machines hovering over their property. In some cases, witnesses have reported multiple drones buzzing around their properties.

Police remind drone operators that there are serious consequences - including fines and/or jail time - if you put aircraft at risk, fly where you're not allowed or endanger anyone's safety. In addition to Canadian Aviation Regulations, operators must respect the Criminal Code and Trespass to Property Act.

If you are flying your drone for fun, and it weighs more than 250 grams and less than 35 kg, you don't need any special permission from Transport Canada to fly, but remember the following rules do apply.

You must fly below 90 m above the ground and at least 30 m away from vehicles, vessels and the public. You must fly at least 75 m from anything if your drone weighs more than one kilogram. You must stay at least 5.5 km away from aerodromes, airports or anywhere aircraft may take-off or land and at least 1.8 km away from heliports. You must fly at least 9 km away from a natural hazard or disaster area and away from areas where operation could interfere with police or first responders. Your drone must be within your sight at all times, or within 500 m of yourself - and then only if it is clearly marked with your name, address and telephone number.

Police also offered some tips for drone users. They included: fly your drone during daylight and in good weather conditions, keep your drone where you can see it, make sure your drone is safe for flight before take-off and respect the privacy of others. Avoid flying over private property or taking photos or videos without permission.

Property owners were reminded if they encounter a drone illegally hovering over their property they should not attempt to destroy the machine by shooting at it. This could escalate a situation that could otherwise be resolved in a peaceful manner. Document the sighting, make detailed notes and contact the OPP through the non-emergency line at 1-888-310-1122.

If you think somebody is flying in an irresponsible manner without a permit and it is not an emergency, complete and submit a drone incident report form, available on the police website.