In Defence of Drone Operators


This is for the drone operators and future operators in Canada.

Couple weeks ago, I came across an article about the drone operator who flew over the Toronto Raptors championship parade.

In short the facts: Drone operator fined just under $3000 CAD for flying a drone in a crowded public space. Transport Canada, the authority in charge of airspace for planes, helicopters and now RC quadcopters, is enforcing new laws in place as of July 1, 2019.

I personally own a drone, flew it a few times in my room and in an empty parking lot and limited to 10 metres. I have handled it dangerously physically and legally. With these new laws, it’s understandable for the concern especially with larger drones which have more mass which can hurt someone if it was in free fall. At the same time the laws can be a bit unreasonable in terms of bookkeeping for hobbyists as well as having certain conditions met before flight. Going through a small course is a good idea to understand what it takes to keep Canadian airspace safe, but making it mandatory as a hobby is a bit too much. Though the law is a bit flexible in terms which certification who need to fly. You can do almost anything for a basic certificate. Advanced seems ideal since you can do a lot more but geared for professionals. And of course anyone can apply for special permission.

The drone community has grown a lot since these flying machines are getting cheaper. Mine was about $129 while the most average around $500. The surge of people taking these things to weird places have yielded some spectacular aerial photos you can and cannot get in a plane. Though breathtaking, it has caused some grief and worry from interest groups. They’ve been shamed as voyeurs since drones can be used to spy on people. Though most place now have some drone laws this hobby stood up when traditional laws didn’t foresee technology to advance beyond what is governed. Almost like they operated in a grey zone, which is why I can relate to another community of enthusiasts.

Remember awhile back I was a bit gaga over airsoft. In Canada, airsoft has received less notoriety but still show up on the rare occasion. To fill you in airsoft is a sport where people shoot small plastic BB’s at low velocity at each other (Think paintball but less mess and smaller projectiles). Because the guns look real, they have been used for nefarious purposes and end up on the news. For a time people were angry that kids can acquire these things for cheap and even the government stepped in to amend the gun laws to include paintball and airsoft. Seeing the parallels? Not only the law is involved but I’ve seen the community grow a bit to where it was a self-policing body. For a sport about honour and integrity, it was noble of them to take care of each other in terms of campaigning their own on safety. Of course there are the outliers who don’t conform and stay on the fringe to enjoy airsoft in their own way but very rare.

Perhaps that’s the next step for the drone community. As much you want drones to be popular, having passionate folks spearhead the hobby in a safe and legal direction. I don’t think it has to go as far as carding member or restricting to an 18+ affair. But having people who put the best foot forward to teach newcomers about proper etiquette and safety. As laws are being made the grey zones where new technology and fringe hobbies, there will be a proper line of where everything should be. As much as politicians establish that line, it’s really up the people to figure out where they want that line.

Drone can be fun if everyone have a basic understanding of what is expected as an owner and operator. So my contribution for anyone who is starting out in Canada, here’s the link to the new laws and how it affects you.

The best I can say is what I know as an amateur photographer:

  • Be considerate of others.
  • Respect people’s wishes, regardless how they convey it.
  • Have empathy. If a stranger did that to you, how would you feel?
  • Be aware around you and take no unnecessary risks.

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