It's a federal offense to shoot any aircraft, including a drone, which the FAA has made abundantly clear. Nonetheless, Toby Harriman experienced just that this past July 4th, when his drone was shot out of the sky in Aspen, Colorado.
Harriman, an experienced drone pilot, was home in Aspen on Independence Day for work and a family visit. While setting up cameras for fireworks, he decided to show off his new DJI Inspire 1 to some friends via a quick test flight. He notes: "I consider myself a pretty considerate and cautious drone pilot. I try to follow all the rules given for flying, as well as any that exist in a given area."
He launched the drone from a road, flew over a few houses at a reasonably high altitude, and proceeded to frame downtown Aspen while over a field between two houses in a rural area. While in this position, he heard two shots, and his drone fell from the sky. He retrieved as many of the pieces as he could, but avoided confronting the people he suspected had done it as he felt it could be a dangerous situation given the holiday and the likelihood of alcohol being involved. It wasn't until the next morning that he saw a clear bullet hole in the side of the Inspire 1's casing.
Unfortunately, Harriman was not filming at the time of the incident, though he has contacted both the local sheriff and the FAA already. He notes that while he had the best of intentions, he "probably should have stayed clear of the houses." Nonetheless, an errant bullet in the air is a dangerous thing. Just a few years ago, a young Amish girl was killed by a falling bullet shot from over a mile away not far from where I grew up. Crashing drones and stray bullets are not something to be taken lightly.
Head over to Resource Magazine for the full interview with Harriman.
All images used with permission of Toby Harriman.
[via Resource Magazine]