Friday, December 29, 2017

Tampa family concerned after strange drone hovers above their home

TAMPA — Drone pilot experts are issuing a warning after a Bay Area family discovered a strange drone hovering above their home.

When one family heard the buzz of a drone above their Tampa home, they came outside, concerned.

"Perception is reality where I could feel like you're spying on me or you're a bad guy," said Jennifer Potter.

Potter's wife initially heard the drone and watched it hover in their yard for ten minutes. 

They called the police, who they say told them to call the Federal Aviation Administration.

Now, they have some fears about their own privacy, including being recorded without their knowledge.

"Predators could be possibly using them to spy on kids," Potter said.

She is also concerned about criminals using drones to survey people's homes and yards.

"We have a privacy fence for a reason," Potter said. "We want our privacy."

Stu O'Shannon is a pilot and runs the private drone company Ver Sol UAS. He says there are rules all drone pilots need to follow, including those who just use drones for fun.

"I will tell you that the FAA will no longer give them the pass of 'Oh, I didn't know,'" O'Shannon said.

ABC Action News used this FAA flight map and learned Potter's entire neighborhood is in "restricted airspace," meaning drones can't be flown more than a few feet off the ground. It's simply too close to Tampa International Airport.

In fact, many Bay Area neighborhoods have the same no-fly zone restrictions.

O'Shannon says drone operators could also be violating residents' expectation of privacy by flying over homes and in neighborhoods.

"There could be somebody sunbathing in their backyard and somebody is filming them from a hundred feet with a drone," he said. I think those same rules apply to the person whether he's a hundred feet in the air or peering through your back window."

Potter is just asking drone operators to keep drones out of her yard.

"I mean, it could be a good guy, it could be a bad guy, you just never know," she said.

Drone operators who violate airspace rules face fines or even arrest in some cases.

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