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#760545 - 02/19/12 12:30 AM Do you own the air space above your property?
pbharvey Offline
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Registered: 05/08/06
Posts: 716
Loc: Highland, MD
Some guys shot down a private drone, essentially a little RC spy helicopter, that flew over their property. Now I'm not advocating shooting down aircraft but it made me think, do you have the right to keep someone out of your air space?

The drone folks say what they were doing was legal. That sounds a little creepy to me. Can I fly a little helicopter over my neighbor's back yard and see what's going on?

Shooting it down seems a little creepy too but less so.

Article
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#760547 - 02/19/12 01:48 AM Re: Do you own the air space above your property? [Re: pbharvey]
Mike Offline

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Interesting question. Air rights are not unlimited in the USA, allowing for reasonable air navigation over one's property. However, as opposed to someone overlying the land in his Cessna, this was a little RC aircraft, with, perhaps, the object of interfering with the legal use of the owner's property. If someone had a low-altitude "drone" buzzing over my head with the purpose of harassing me on my property, it might suffer an operational failure resulting in a total loss of the airframe.

However, on a strictly legal note, it's questionable whether destruction of another's property is within the legal rights of a landowner. But, how do you distinguish this sort of thing from a pigeon?
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#760550 - 02/19/12 04:53 AM Re: Do you own the air space above your property? [Re: pbharvey]
steve404 Offline
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Registered: 12/21/01
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Loc: Monterey, CA.

The local airport authority offered to install attic insulation and insulated windows in some houses near my house. Part of the agreement was to give them the space above the property.
I now live a bit further from the airport but I have a neighbor that sort of buzzes my property in his helicopter when he is down here for weekends. I don't dare even point a laser pointer at it.
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#760556 - 02/19/12 07:47 AM Re: Do you own the air space above your property? [Re: pbharvey]
Gregori Offline
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I think you own up to about 500 ft or so, in most places.

It seems apparent from your link that the activists were asked not to fly, and did so anyway - with the specific intent to harass the landowners.

While I don't agree with the position of either party in that particular dispute, I will say that the activists pretty much asked for it, and got what they deserved.
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#760557 - 02/19/12 07:57 AM Re: Do you own the air space above your property? [Re: pbharvey]
Joe Frickin' Friday Offline

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#760562 - 02/19/12 08:37 AM Re: Do you own the air space above your property? [Re: pbharvey]
Glenn Reed Offline
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Registered: 06/17/10
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Loc: Towson MD
Originally Posted By: pbharvey
Some guys shot down a private drone, essentially a little RC spy helicopter, that flew over their property. Now I'm not advocating shooting down aircraft but it made me think, do you have the right to keep someone out of your air space?

The drone folks say what they were doing was legal. That sounds a little creepy to me. Can I fly a little helicopter over my neighbor's back yard and see what's going on?

Shooting it down seems a little creepy too but less so.

Article


Interesting topic.

In reading the article that Brian linked, when the helo was shot down, it was not over the property, it was over a highway, which it landed on after being hit by gunfire coming from the property.

The article Mitch linked to says that originally a property owner owned the airspace up to anywhere from 500 to 1000 feet above their property. This was then modified as such "The court laid down a new rule: you've got air rights only insofar as they're essential to the use and enjoyment of your land."

From a legal standpoint, it would have been helpful if the property owners had allowed the helo over the property and then sued the helo owner to keep them from using any of the video therefrom. I am not a lawyer, I don't even play one on TV, but it seems to me that if the activity they were engaged in is legal (a pigeon shoot) then having an RC helicopter flying over would keep them from the "use and enjoyment of their land" and they would have a case that it was therefore illegal for the copter to be there.

Not a situation where you get to dispense your own justice though, and in this case firing shots in the vicinity of a highway does not seem responsible.

From a PR standpoint though, it seems the property owners were trying to avoid publicity because there are folks who do not approve the pigeon shoot. I don't know enough about this to have a position, but that's my take.
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#760567 - 02/19/12 09:08 AM Re: Do you own the air space above your property? [Re: pbharvey]
Ohio48 Offline
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Registered: 09/14/10
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Time to break out my old super soaker!!!
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#760568 - 02/19/12 09:11 AM Re: Do you own the air space above your property? [Re: pbharvey]
upflying Offline
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Registered: 11/10/02
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Loc: Reno, NV
Cops will need a search warrant to fly over your backyard with a drone. Civilians, no.
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#760569 - 02/19/12 09:18 AM Re: Do you own the air space above your property? [Re: pbharvey]
Danny caddyshack Noonan Online
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Registered: 08/16/08
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I see a business opportunity, legitimate for once, for the Iranian military.

At least, until someone can invent a charged particle beam that takes the 1.21 gigawatt output of a flux capacitor.
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#760574 - 02/19/12 09:40 AM Re: Do you own the air space above your property? [Re: pbharvey]
barryd Offline
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Registered: 11/19/10
Posts: 93
Loc: New Hampshire
This is interesting, yet another case where technology has overtaken law and social norms.

I've heard many anecdotal stories of pilots getting in trouble for spending too much time overflying sun bathing women and such, or flying too low to get a better look.

I don't know what the rules say, but if there are such restrictions it would seem to apply to these remotely piloted aircraft too.

There are certainly minimum altitude requirements for aircraft, but if these things are considered models, for example, then altitude restrictions probably don't apply.

OTH, there are laws about taking potshots at aircraft too.

Interesting can of worms.




Edited by barryd (02/19/12 09:41 AM)

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