A golden eagle grabs a flying drone during a military training exercise at Mont-de-Marsan French Air Force base, Southwestern France, February 10, 2017. REUTERS/Regis Duvignau

Letter to the editor: Don’t fly drones into your neighbor’s airspace

  • Jeanne Counce
  • Dec 2, 2021

Sometime around 2000, Gallatin County produced a document called “Code of the West” which offered guidelines for newcomers so that they might better get along with their rural neighbors. Fast forward 20 years and a doubling of population, and it’s time for an update.

I encourage the sharing of ideas, but my first order of business would be to address the neighborly use of drones. I’m sure drones are fun, but under no circumstances should you fly a drone into your neighbor’s airspace.

It may not be prohibited under the current FAA regulations, but it’s intrusive and rude. I can’t imagine many people who are eye-to-camera with a drone hovering over their property thinking, “I’m OK with that.”

Sadly, there is no recourse for this kind of activity, save for the friendly request to stop. In our case, an intervention from the sheriff outlined the rules (no son, you can’t shoot it down). A simple request to keep the drone out of neighborhood yards and only over nearby fields was honored for about a month before the buzzing monstrosity was back.

Drone pilots are forbidden to fly over wildfires and within the park. This is common sense, yet people still break these rules with impunity—and with deleterious results (remember this summer when fire-fighting aircraft were forced to delay flights due to drone activity?). To date there are few rules for flying the devices in residential areas.

My addition to the “Code of the West” would simply encourage drone pilots to respect private property rights as if they were on foot. If you would feel uncomfortable walking into your neighbor’s backyard to stare at them, that should also go for the flying camera that you’re operating from afar.

Respect begets respect. That code applies wherever you live.

Jeanne Counce, 

Bozeman