Early last month, a DJI Phantom crashed into the Metropolitan Square building in St. Louis, MO. There was a police investigation –aided by the FBI– and a little public outcry but no pilot was ever identified. Without basic information such as “who?” or “why?” both the media and Missourians were left to draw their own (flawed) opinions.
Fortunately, the pilot has now come forward. The owner of the drone, whose name was withheld but was described as a 51 year old male, is from Mountain View, CA and told police he was in town visiting his mother on her birthday. He said he flew the drone through downtown St. Louis to capture video of historic buildings. When he realized the drone crashed, he searched for it but failed to find it, assuming someone else had taken it.
After hearing Mr. Mountain View’s story, police decided there was no nefarious or malicious intent behind the flight of the drone, so to damaged hardware was returned to the owner.
“They didn’t find anything that he had done wrong,” said Schron Jackson, a St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department spokeswoman, “It was a non-criminal incident.”
So there you have it. For all the fire and brimstone that initially surrounded this story, nobody got arrested and the drone went home.
Incidents such as this perfectly exemplify the issues the FAA is facing in trying to regulate drone use. Mr. Mountain View might lack common sense, but he didn’t do anything illegal. On the other hand, a company in Texas that wants to use drones to find missing persons receives a cease and desist from the FAA?
Something seems a bit backwards…
As aerial photographer Terry Holland is fond of saying: “Who is going to be a more responsible pilot; the guy who has built his business around his ability to use drones commercially or the guy who bought one on eBay because “Oh man, this is going to be awesome!”
Alan is serial entrepreneur, active angel investor, and a drone enthusiast. He co-founded DRONELIFE.com to address the emerging commercial market for drones and drone technology. Prior to DRONELIFE.com, Alan co-founded Where.com, ThinkingScreen Media, and Nurse.com. Recently, Alan has co-founded Crowditz.com, a leader in Equity Crowdfunding Data, Analytics, and Insights. Alan can be reached at alan(at)dronelife.com