I was sitting on my patio yesterday, drinking my coffee and enjoying the breeze when I heard a whirring noise. When I looked up there was a drone watching me. It flew over the house and then came back again and landed at a house in Canal Point. I heard that there is a rule about flying drones within three miles of the airport. Are drones banned from flying within three miles or do they have to fly below a certain height? What are my rights regarding drones flying over my house? Can I complain? Who do I complain to? I found “drone blockers” online. Are these legal? What if the drone blocker causes the drone to land in the canal? Am I liable?
Auntie’s answer: Before I get into the specifics of your question, I feel I must offer ample warning: I do not think I will be able to avoid a fair bit of ranting at some point in this column. If you are OK with that, then continue reading.
Let’s look at the legality of drones in Cayman first. The Civil Aviation Authority of the Cayman Islands weighed in on this issue early last year (see Drones banned from prisons and airports). As the reader pointed out, drones are banned from within three nautical miles of the airport, and also one nautical mile of HMP Northward. I think (hope) the reasons for both of those restrictions are obvious but in case they aren’t, the referenced article explains all that.
While there are licensed operators here, your question is clearly addressing the casual hobbyist or, worse, some youngster with a newly gifted drone of his or her own.
(Cue my ranting.)
I completely understand your annoyance – and possibly horror – at seeing (and hearing) a drone overhead interrupting your peaceful morning coffee. It seems that anyone with some extra cash and a fully charged battery can become the next terror of the skies around your house. I believe that most models come with a recommended minimum age for flying a drone, but pardon my cynicism when I say that I am not confident that will be followed every time.
And while the unseen someone is flying a drone over your yard, they can certainly see you. This to me is an incredible, unacceptable invasion of privacy. But if you live more than three nautical miles from the airport, I am not sure this action is liable for any prosecution.
As for using a drone blocker, which basically jams the radio frequency signal to the craft, that doesn’t appear to be a good solution to me. You pointed to a scenario where the drone winds up falling into the canal. That seems certainly a possibility but I suppose other things can happen as well, like it dropping on a person or a car. My advice would be to avoid that option.
In my opinion, the increasing use of drones presents a very real privacy problem and their use should be restricted legally sooner rather than later. If you agree and are able to vote in the Cayman Islands, I suggest you make this known to the candidates in your district. (See who is running here.)
Category: Ask Auntie