What do you think you are doing? This is a No-Drone Zone…

How many of you have heard these or similar words? “HEY YOU; FLYING A DRONE HERE IS ILLEGAL!!!” or perhaps the more subtle approach, “What do you think you are doing? This is a No-Drone Zone…”

I have not yet made the plunge into an expensive Drone and I only have an inexpensive non-DJI Drone, but I have watched many YouTube Videos and read many, many postings on various web sites of the hassles Drone Flyers have faced by various “authority figures” or self-appointed “Ken’s or Karen’s.”

I have had two run-ins with what I’ll call “Jack Booted Thugs” authority figures…

One time my Drone was up in the air, I asked if I could land it safely. I explained that interfering with a Drone pilot while their Drone is in the air is a Federal Offense and punishable under the same laws that govern interfering with a pilot operating an aircraft. Because an out-of-control drone striking a person could injure them or worse, coming down in traffic could cause an accident, or at the very least, cause property damage. And that took much of the wind out of his sails… (As for the validity of all this, I do not know, but no one has ever questioned it…).

The other time, I was approached while swapping batteries… I’ve also had a few, “Hi there, what’s you doing?” and these were pleasant exchanges that I just flying my drone around, I show then the same paperwork and all goes well.

When I am approached while flying, I bring the Drone back, usually very slowly… The conversation usually lightens up and I ask them if I can show them some paperwork.

I carry a copy of my TRUST Completion Certificate and I show them the certificate and explain that “I am an FAA Registered Recreation Drone Pilot.”

Although I am not required to register my Drone (190 Grams…), I registered it. I show them a copy of my FAA UAS Certificate of Registration for my Drone, and show them the certificate and the Registration Information on my Drone (my FAA Number and my Phone Number).

I also carry a printed copy of the Recreational Flyers & Modeler Community-Based Organizations Flying Rules to show I am operating my Drone within the Rules of Flight.

Then, depending on the specific location, if I’m in an FAA Controlled area and had to apply for flight authorization through the FAADroneZone Web Site, I show them a printed copy of the FAA Authorization and if I only had to apply for LAANC, I show them a printed copy of my Computer Screen Authorization. And if the area is OPEN, I show them the Map on B4FLY App.

And, because I do not fly in an prohibited area, Knock-on-Wood, I have never had to stop and desist my drone flying…

You can look at it several ways; either I dazzled them with my brilliance, or I baffled them with bull…

I like to think I used my Jedi Mind Trick…

Happy Droning and Fly Safe…



The best approach is to fly more discreetly when no one is around from secluded locations. Avoid flying when others are present or nearby. Flight interruptions are annoying at best and potentially dangerous. Flying openly, even while completely legal, is just asking for trouble. YMMV.

You do not have to fly in a prohibited space to be bothered by someone. There will be people who will come out of their buildings to inform you that you’re flying in the wrong airspace. Or they are simply unhappy with you flying regardless (for reasons that are not reasonable on any level, but let’s not get into that here).

Right or wrong, be sure to tell them clearly and simply that you ARE NOT going to discuss it with them until you have safely landed the aircraft; if you need to, add that their interruptions are endangering safety (you need to concentrate in flying).

Then when you land, be as calm and polite as you can and if need be, pack up and leave.

And yes, as DocDJI stated, many of these encounters can be avoided by flying more discretely when you can.


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Wow! This is a terrific post! Thanks for all the detailed information of what you bring with you, and how you handle misinformed people! Great post!

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Thank you for the reply. I lot of folk think I might make myself too obvious when I fly but I cannot help it. As I mentioned, at this time; I am a non-DJI Recreational Drone Flyer. My Drone is an inexpensive non-GPS Drone with only Optical Flow. The Video is very low quality and since it’s all WiFi, the range is limited to no more than 100 yards. At that distance I cannot see it’s orientation to control its direction so I never let it get that far away, which means I’m right in the middle of its flight area, so it’s pretty obvious whose flying the drone.

If you’ve read my Pilot Check In…

You’ll see some of the issues I have finding a place of “Quiet Solitude” to fly… and since the Pandemic, the parks that used to be relative quiet during the week are a lot more crowded, even during the “normal work day.”

I always chose a quiet area, with very few people around, especially if they are letting their dogs run free… (Some folk think that fenced “bark parks” are for other people’s dogs…).

And some of these “Ken’s and Karen’s” feel compelled to call 911 to report every perceived infraction (especially if you complain that it’s against the law for them to let their dogs run unleased in the park…).

Once again, thanks for the reply and I’m glad my advice might help you out in mitigating any difference of opinion concerning the legality of flying.

Happy Droning and Fly Safe.


I live in New York State, on Long Island, and due to state laws I have such a difficult time finding a place to fly. All NYS Parks are off limits. And of course National Parks are off limits as well. Bummer. So I fly off some beaches, and sandbars when the tide is out. So usually no one is around which is nice. I fly a Phantom 3 which I bought new after it went out of production so I got it at a good price. I am just flying it for fun so I don’t need high res imaging. There is a harbor down at the end of my street, and I would love to fly out over the harbor, to look back at the land, but I am really afraid that if the drone went down over the water, that would be the end of it. Of course if it crashed over land, it might well still be toast anyhow. I am a rec pilot, and have forgotten to do the TRUST Completion Certificate! So that was another reason that your post was great, and I appreciate that. And I never thought to bring all that paperwork with me, which is also a great idea. I do keep a copy of my drone registration in the checklist folder I always bring with me. Anyhow some great ideas. This is off topic, but it pertains to all the “experts” who think they know everything. I have been a professional photographer all my life, and they were demolishing a huge powerplant a mile down the road from me, so I was photographing it one afternoon - it was already out of commission. And two burly construction workers with hard hats come out of the building and say “Hey, you can’t photograph here!” I am standing on a public sidewalk, so in fact I can photograph there, because it is not a nuclear facility. So in a nice way, I ask why I can’t photograph this derelict plant. And they say “Because of 9/11.” Right. So it is kind of late in the day, and I am thinking of the possibilities, but I don’t want to be late for dinner. If I had some time to kill, I would have said to them, “Please call the police because I am going to continue to photograph.” I am very familiar with the rights of the public, and the rights of the media when it comes to photography, and I am sure a police officer would know that as well. But I decided that discretion is the better part of valor, and I let it go. I am so tired of all the “experts” out there, telling us what we can and can’t do, when they have no expertise in the subject. Thanks again for your great post!

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A New Yorker, but hey, I can’t hold that against you, as I was born and raised in upstate, a little township, Guilderland, just west of Albany. I joined the Air Force in 1971 and served for 30-years before retiring. After retiring, my wife and I RV’d around the US looking for “home.” We traveled back to the Albany area, (she and I went to school together and graduated HS together, so the Albany area had been her home too), but it changed so much, it wasn’t home anymore.

I served 3-tours at Langley AFB, Hampton VA (total of 13-years) so we just sort of settled back here. And that’s how I come to be here…

I brought up the Long Island area in Airmap, B4UFly, and Aloft, and I see what you are talking about, so many restricted flying area with FAA flight Areas with restrictions of flying your drone at 0-feet above ground level (or as I refer to it–Drone Taxi Zones…). As I mentioned in my Pilot Check In, I live in one of these “drone Taxi Zones…” If I walk across the street to my neighbor’s front yard, it’s 400’, the demarcation line runs right down my street.

Virginia also prohibits drone flying in its state parks, and we have numerous national parks, Fort Monroe and Yorktown Battle Field, besides the Air Force Base, Fort Eustis, and the municipal airport all surrounding me.

We have numerous beaches also, but so much is privately owned and the public ones do not provide much cover to fly discreetly. As for your fear to fly over water, I understand it completely.

But if you want to get teased a bit, here is a Drone Video of Flying Point Beach, Watermill, New York (dare I say Long Island…)

By the way, are you also on the MavicPilots Web Site, their web site is:

Lots of great information and videos located there, the video above was posted there…

I am somewhat active on both web sites and have posted similar topics on both. On MavicPilots, I go by the handle Barney DeCat, which I will be changing in a week or so as my cat hates getting all the “hate mail…”

So, Be Cool, Keep Your Head Down, and watch out for Karen’s…


Fly early morning just before sunrise. Most of the jerks will still be sleeping off the bender from the night before! Winds are usually the calmest before sunrise, too!