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Old Jul 29, 2014, 09:03 PM
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First UAV Near Miss with Ag Aircraft Reported in Pacific Northwest

First UAV Near Miss with Ag Aircraft Reported in Pacific Northwest

Earlier this week a pilot from Idaho was preparing to begin a spray run through a field. Barely visible ahead of him was a small stationary object. He decided it must be a kite since a bird would not remain motionless. As he neared the object, it rapidly shot straight up. The pilot took evasive action but it passed so close to the airplane that he was unsure if it had missed the aircraft and spray system. It was close enough for him to be able to identify the make and model of the quad-rotor unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV). He did not see the vehicle again as he finished the field but he did see the suspected operator/pilot in a car near the field. When he went to the next field, the car followed him where he observed the car’s occupant taking pictures with a hand-held camera.

The pilot notified his operator of what had transpired and was told to see if he could identify the car. Through the assistance of the farmer and the crop consultant, they were able to narrow down the search for the individual. The pilot notified the county sheriff of the incident and deputies were able to locate the suspected operator of the UAV.

During an interview with the suspect, the sheriff told him the endangered pilot could press charges and he would have been held liable if any damage had occurred to the aircraft. The suspect was asked if his operation of the UAV was covered by insurance. The person was visibly shocked when he learned of the value of a turbine ag aircraft. His demeanor became extremely remorseful.

At the same time, strictly by chance, inspectors from the local FSDO happened to stop by the operator’s business on a courtesy call. They were immediately informed of the event and the follow-up. Although they did not know exactly how to handle the reporting of the incident, they knew the FAA needs to have reports of UAV incidents to aid in developing rules for the safe integration of UAVs into the airspace system.

The pilot and operator declined to press charges against the UAV’s operator because of his remorse and attitude upon realizing the safety implications of his actions. The possible financial liability alone was sufficient to get the message across.

NAAA reminds pilots and operators to report to their local FSDO and law enforcement agency any incidents involving near collisions or interference to their flying activities from UAVs. An actual report is the only way official documentation will be able to track the extent of the problem.

http://news.agaviation.org/naaa/issu...-24/index.html
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Old Jul 31, 2014, 12:21 PM
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Scary. Glad that the UAV pilot realised the implications of what he was doing-albeit rather late in the day.

On a practical level, this story highlights a key issue for FPV users. Most cameras look straight ahead of the craft, and a few can look down. However, very few I have heard of are capable of looking straight up, so quick vertical ascents are effectively performed blind.

So in my view, this story highlights the need for three things for UAVs:

1) Some kind of 'detect and avoid' collision system
2) Cameras capable of looking wherever the aircraft is flying (ie straight up)
3) Responsible piloting.
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Old Jul 31, 2014, 02:29 PM
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Yamax87,

Good reply,

Item #3.....Responsible Piloting is the single most important factor, yet most likely the least to occur in the recreational RC sport flying simply because the lack of knowledge of FAA airspace and piloting requirements and the lack of good judgement.

A quick scan of YouTube videos clearly makes this point. You can view many high quality videos of FPV's night flying in major metropolitan areas. These overflight are at relatively low altitude over crowded interstate highways systems. Untold number of factors could bring these UAV (FPV) aircraft down into this traffic. An impact upon one car or truck could lead to a massive pile-up. Cars do not have bullet proof glass, even a glancing blow would distract the driver. This is much the same a someone tossing a large stone or concrete block off an overpass into the oncoming traffic.

The FAA can write as many regulation as it wants to in an attempt to help control this lack of good judgement. The FAA and all other federal agencies lack effective ways to educate the public of the responsibilities the pilot must accept, which could include manslaughter chargers and a very lengthy prison sentence.

This whole UAV matter is a basket of slippery eels.

Take a look at this article that was post last week at this location.


July 24, 2014
DC Circuit Court Refuses to Hear UAV Case; White House to Address UAV Privacy Concerns

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit dismissed a case against Texas EquuSearch, a search-and-rescue operation that was told by the FAA that their UAV use was illegal. Texas EquuSearch sued the Federal Aviation Administration, seeking to overturn what the group described as an order it had been sent in February by email prohibiting the nonprofit organization from using UAVs. A three-judge panel dismissed the challenge, but based the dismissal of the case on the fact that the FAA email at the center of the case was not a formal, legally binding order.

The FAA says it is reviewing the decision. In their filing, the Agency said that the challenge should be dismissed because the email in question was a warning, rather than a formal reprimand, therefore not subject to judicial review. "The email represents the opinion of a subordinate agency employee regarding the view that the FAA would be likely to take if confronted [with unauthorized use of a UAV]”, the FAA lawyers said in the court documents.

Lawyers for Texas EquuSearch said that they felt the decision was “helpful,” and that they believe that it clarifies that the organization is not under a FAA directive to not use the technology. The group says they intend to resume UAV flights as soon as possible.

Meanwhile, it was reported by POLITICO July 23 that President Obama intends to issue an executive order directing the federal government to develop UAV privacy regulations.

While many UAV industry insiders felt that privacy regulations were needed, who would be responsible for development of such regulations had yet to be determined. Many thought while the FAA is heading UAV integration, the agency has no experience in the privacy arena, and would therefore be ill-equipped. According to POLITICO, the order will put the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), an arm of the Commerce Department, in charge of developing the guidelines. NTIA would bring together companies and consumer groups to hammer out a series of voluntary best practices for UAVs. NTIA has experience with privacy issues in the tech sector. The agency convened meetings to work out industry codes of conduct for mobile apps and is now doing the same for facial recognition technology.

The White House and FAA both refused to comment on the report when asked by POLITICO.
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Old Jul 31, 2014, 09:05 PM
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Amazon employee hits Space Needle with drone

Amazon employee hits Space Needle with drone

By Julian Hattem - 07/25/14 11:28 AM EDT
An Amazon employee may have crashed a drone he was flying into Seattle’s iconic Space Needle this week.

The unnamed online shopping giant employee’s accident was with a recreational drone purchased from a hobby store, according to the city police department, not one of the prototype models the company is testing for shipping.

According to the police, “several guests” saw the drone buzzing around the top of the structure, which may have then crashed into an observation deck window.
The white drone, which was equipped with a camera, then flew two blocks away into a window on the fifth floor of a hotel.

The operator admitted to having flown the drone by the Space Needle but denied that he had hit anything. According to police, “nothing on the video indicated the drone had hit the Needle.”

After a quick “crash course” on drones in Seattle, the man agreed not to fly his drone in public while in the city.

It is currently legal in the U.S. to fly drones for recreational use, but not commercially.

That distinction has led to some ambiguity, however, and caused problems for companies large and small who were ignorant of the rules. Among the companies shut down by federal authorities for illegally flying drones for commercial use are the Washington Nationals baseball team and a company trying to deliver beer via drone.

Amazon has been one of the most prominent companies trying to seek regulatory approval for its drones, which it plans to use to replace traditional shipping methods and deliver people’s packages in under an hour. This month, the company filed a petition with the Federal Aviation Administration seeking permission to test its fleet.

Other companies from Hollywood studios to energy developers have also expressed interest is using drones commercially for a range of purposes.
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Old Aug 01, 2014, 09:06 AM
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So many cans of so many worms.

But hey, our legal systems have adapted to societal and tech change before. I'm confident that things will get worked out-we're just in the Wild West for the meantime...

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Old Aug 01, 2014, 02:21 PM
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Hmm, was it an UAV or just an RC multirotor? And in this case, how is it different than flying an RC helicopter or airplane recklessly? What really has changed is that flying RC has become more affordable, and therefore more widespread. The potential for conflict has increased, and unfortunately they will probably bring in regulation that will just kill the hobby altogether rather than fix the issue. The type of people that will create dangerous situations is unlikely to be bothered by rules.
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Old Aug 01, 2014, 05:15 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brandano View Post
Hmm, was it an UAV or just an RC multirotor? And in this case, how is it different than flying an RC helicopter or airplane recklessly? What really has changed is that flying RC has become more affordable, and therefore more widespread. The potential for conflict has increased, and unfortunately they will probably bring in regulation that will just kill the hobby altogether rather than fix the issue. The type of people that will create dangerous situations is unlikely to be bothered by rules.
Brandano, I agree with you comment.

What defines the difference between a UAV vs a RC multirotor/helicopter/airplane? To me they are the same, but the law appears to be headed for a definition that a UAV is for commercial uses and the latter is a hobbyist issue. This is a typical legal ease sort of matter.

Do UAV pilots follow FAA FAR part 61? I.e. do they need a pilots license like a private pilot/commercial pilot. These aircraft operate in controlled airspace, thus the pilot needs to understand and abide by the same rules as full sized aircraft. Now the sticky points are..... what is a UAV vs RC toy?

A multirotor can do terrible damage to a full sized aircraft of any size. Someday a kid is going to try to get his GO-Pro camera/multirotor as close as possible to a jumbo jet on takeoff for that great feeling of the "thumbs up" Facebook "like". That multirotor will get drawing into the intake and take out a 20 million dollar engine. That's when you'll see some action from the FAA.

OR

Amazon's idea to deliver packages by multirotor will have a similar affect upon some poor sole that it crashes onto / into their bodies or property. Amazon does not care, they run the numbers and know the insurance company will pick up the tap, in the long run they make much more money even if the general public is put at risk. BIG Money talks.......

Amazon multirotor delivery idea.
Amazon Delivery by DRONES! AMAZON PRIME AIR (1 min 15 sec)


Colorado's drone bounty law.
COLORADO TOWN TO CONSIDER OFFERING BOUNTIES ON DRONES - Small Town Stands Up for Constitution!!! (2 min 35 sec)
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Old Aug 01, 2014, 06:14 PM
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On the humorous side:

On the humorous side of things, I can image an anti-drone militia operating in Southern California or Florida. These guy would hack/hijack the delivery drones, much like the lost of a USAF drone to the nation of Iran a few years back. Hackers will see these drone as a new target. It sort of makes you want to see this Amazon Drone Delivery service happen.

Big Brother want to control everything . Drones to watch us, but not drones for the common person. Corporate drones to sell us toys, and fast foods.

Just think you could get that Domino's pizza in less that 15 minutes via drone and no tip required. This is a good idea in "high crime" areas.

Does the drone pilot replace the pizza driver, is this promotion? What are their qualification to be pilot for Amazon, or Domino's? Pass the drug test?

It appears that the public at large does not like the ideas of drones at any level and the hobbyist don't see the rising tide of resentment on the horizon. FPV is going to be the kiss of death to the entire RC hobby. Too many thoughtless crashes and accidents will result in the loss of a common man's use of these devices.
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Old Aug 01, 2014, 06:34 PM
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Beer delivery via Drones:

Beer delivery via Drones:
Lakemaid Beer Drone Delivery (1 min 10 sec)


A Minnesota beermaker wants drones to help anglers remotely replenish their stocks of beer, but the government is saying no.

For now.

The Federal Aviation Administration informed Lakemaid Beer that it currently prohibits small businesses from using drones shortly after the beermaker posted video of a test run on Lake Waconia last week.

Inspired by Amazon, Lakemaid had been testing a drone delivery system for 12-packs of beer on ice fishing lakes in Minnesota and in Wisconsin where the beer is produced, Lakemaid president Jack Supple said in a news release.

Another test was set for Lake Mille Lacs and the Twin Pines resort before the FAA stepped in. The beermaker's video went viral and now has more than 100,000 views.

Amazon grabbed the country's attention late last year after announcing it was exploring ways to deliver packages with drones, and wants to deliver some packages within minutes of the orders being placed.

But Amazon faces the same FAA restrictions as Lakemaid -- though the beermaker will be navigating wide-open spaces and wilderness rather than dense urban areas.

"We'd be happy to share our research with Amazon," Supple said.

The FAA is expected to release new drone regulations by 2015, but Lakemaid would also have to implement a system to remotely verify age.

For the FAA's restrictions on drones, gi to www.faa.gov/about/initiatives/uas/uas_faq.

Joseph Lindberg can be reached at 651-228-5513. Follow him at twitter.com/JosephLindberg.
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Old Aug 01, 2014, 07:12 PM
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FAA definition of a UAS:

Click on the link below to read the FAA definition for UAS (unmanned aircraft system) Which replaces the acronym UAV.

This is a good reference for any FPV pilot. The FAA really is just passing the buck on these issues. You don't get an answer on most of the items. Good luck figuring out what you can and can't do hobbyist.

This is the one most applicable to the hobbyist:

Do I need to get approval from the FAA to fly a model aircraft for recreation?

No. FAA guidance does not address size of the model aircraft. FAA guidance says that model aircraft flights should be kept below 400 feet above ground level (AGL), should be flown a sufficient distance from populated areas and full scale aircraft, and are not for business purposes. 1, 2

NOTE: "model aircraft flights should be kept below 400 feet AGL and should be flow a sufficient distance from populated areas and full scale aircraft. Note the word "should" this is not a mandate, but a recommendation. In fact it appears that the FAA has not done much of anything to regulate RC flying. If the FAA meant to control the model aircraft flyers it would have worded the document as SHALL.

Unmanned Aircraft (UAS)
General FAQs
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Old Aug 14, 2014, 07:09 PM
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Banned drone may have damaged Yellowstone spring

Banned drone may have damaged Yellowstone spring:

The U.S. National Park Service has an important message for visitors: Leave your drones at home!

Unmanned aircraft were officially banned from U.S. national parks in June 2014. But just last week, on Aug. 2, an unidentified tourist crashed a drone straight into the famous rainbow-colored Grand Prismatic Spring at Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming.

Park officials have yet to recover the drone, and have not determined if the crash caused any damage to the site, but an investigation into the matter is ongoing, Amy Bartlett, a park spokesperson, told Live Science. [See photos of Yellowstone's Grand Prismatic hot spring]

Grand Prismatic is named for its colorful algae mat, which circles the spring in shades of red, orange, yellow and green.

"It's a hugely popular, photographic hot spring in Yellowstone," said Bartlett, who also noted that, while park officials aren't yet certain, the tourist was likely flying the drone over the hot spring to capture an image or video.

Park officials haven't yet recovered the downed drone from Grand Prismatic, partly because they have not determined where the vehicles landed in the spring, Bartlett said. Measuring more than 300 feet across and reaching depths of 160 feet, the hot spring is the largest in the United States, and the third largest in the world.

"We'll probably have to fly a real, piloted helicopter over it to get the exact location," Bartlett said. She also said that, because of the spring's large algae mat, the ground surrounding the site is soft, making it impossible for park officials to assess the situation on foot.

Once the officials figure out exactly where the rogue drone is located, they can determine what, if anything, they're going to do with it.

"We don't know what damage may have been caused when it entered the hot spring, but we also don't know what kind of damage could be caused either by leaving it there or by taking it out," Bartlett said.

Park officials have not identified the person responsible for the downed drone, but Bartlett said that other park visitors did witness a tourist on a nearby boardwalk controlling a drone that later fell into Grand Prismatic.

The drone pilot did report the incident to officials at the park's visitor center, but it wasn't clear to Yellowstone employees at the time that the drone was still in the hot spring, Bartlett said. As such, the pilot was not apprehended nor identified by park officials. Bartlett said an investigation into the matter is ongoing.

Earlier this summer, park officials recovered a drone that had crashed near a marina in Yellowstone Lake, Bartlett said. Other national parks have also reported recent disturbances caused by drones. In April, visitors to Grand Canyon National Park, in Arizona, complained to park officials that a noisy drone flying overhead ruined their evening sunset. Earlier in April, drone handlers in Zion National Park, in Utah, were caught harassing a herd of bighorn sheep with a robotic flyer.

These and other events prompted the National Park Service to issue a formal ban on drones in June. The order, which went into affect on June 20, cites noise, harassment of wildlife and visitor safety as a few of the reasons for prohibiting these flying robots over federally administered lands and waters.

Unfortunately, Bartlett said that drones aren't the only items that find their way into the hot springs at Yellowstone. Visitors often confuse these environmental landmarks with wishing wells or even garbage cans, throwing coins and trash into the springs, she said.
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Old Aug 14, 2014, 07:11 PM
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Drones Banned from All US National Parks

Drones Banned from All US National Parks

Drones have been banned from all national parks in the United States, according to new regulations established by U.S. government officials.

The National Park Service (NPS), the government agency that manages the nation's national parks, monuments and other historical sites, has outlawed launching, landing or operating drones over all federally administered lands and waters. Jonathan Jarvis, director of the National Park Service, signed the policy memo into effect on June 27.

"We embrace many activities in national parks because they enhance visitor experience with the iconic natural, historic and cultural landscapes in our care," Jarvis said in a statement. "However, we have serious concerns about the negative impact that flying unmanned aircraft is having in parks, so we are prohibiting their use until we can determine the most appropriate policy that will protect park resources and provide all visitors with a rich experience." [8 Amazing National Park Structures]

In May, Yosemite National Park in California banned the use of drones anywhere within the park's boundaries. NPS superintendents had reported that these flying bots were frequently being used to film above Yosemite's treetops to capture stunning aerial views of the landscape.

Park officials hope the drone ban will cut down on the number of noise and nuisance complaints filed by visitors, and will help ensure the safety of those on NPS grounds.

Last September, park rangers confiscated a drone that caused a disturbance when it flew over the Mount Rushmore National Memorial amphitheater in South Dakota. In April, visitors to Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona complained about a drone that loudly flew over the area and eventually crashed into the canyon.

Similarly, volunteers at Zion National Park in Utah reported an incident where a robotic flyer flew near a herd of bighorn sheep, causing a commotion that scattered and separated some young sheep from the adults.

Despite the prohibition, the NPS may use drones for search-and-rescue operations, fire safety and scientific study, according to Jarvis, but these uses will require special approval.

Jarvis said the ban is a temporary measure until government officials can assess how people can safely operate these flying bots over densely populated areas, in urban settings, and in the same airspace as manned aircraft.

The NPS rules also do not infringe on the jurisdiction of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), which oversees all aspects of the country's civil aviation. The FAA is currently developing official rules for the use of commercial drones. Regulations for small commercial drones that weigh less than 55 lbs. (25 kilograms) are expected to be released in 2015.
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Old Aug 14, 2014, 08:37 PM
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Drones creating hazards over airports

Drones creating hazards over airports

Aviation experts are sounding a warning about drones, and the hazards they create when flown near airports.

The small, remote-controlled helicopters have become both affordable and popular with hobbyists. But when flown too close to major airports, experts warn drones are dangerous.

"The worst case is they could get ingested, be sucked into one of our engines, and that could be catastrophic," Craig Blandford of the Air Canada Pilots Association, told CBC News.

Just last month a drone was spotted in the sky over Pearson International Airport, forcing pilots, just a few kilometres away, to change their paths and land on different runways.

Drones have also recently alarmed pilots over Vancouver and Halifax — the drone in the latter incident was flying higher than 19,000 feet, above an Air Canada Jazz plane bound for St. John's.

So far this year pilots have reported 14 incidents of drones appearing in their path, compared to just three in 2013.

Many who use drones aren’t learning how to fly them safely, according to filmmaker and drone instructor Christiaan Cloete.

“There's a whole lot of regulations for using [a drone] commercially, unfortunately they haven't given out regulations for [hobbyists] who are using it just for fun,” Cloete told CBC News. “So that's a big problem.”

Transport Canada says recreational use of drones falls under the general guidelines against not endangering people or property. Breaking those rules can bring a fine of up to $25,000, though no one has ever been prosecuted, according to a spokesman for the federal agency.

Transport Canada is working on introducing more specific rules, the spokesman said.
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Old Aug 15, 2014, 05:44 PM
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Wildfire Managers: Drones a Threat to Firefighters

Wildfire Managers: Drones a Threat to Firefighters

Associated Press BOISE, Idaho — Aug 15, 2014, 6:29 PM ET

Drones flying over wildfires could lead to firefighter injuries and force retardant bombers to be called off, wildfire managers say.

At least three drones have flown within or near restricted airspace intended for wildfire fighting aircraft so far this year, the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise announced Friday. That's up from one incident last year.

"We're seeing an increase in people wanting to film from a distance with hobby aircraft," said spokesman Mike Ferris, noting wildfires are often buzzing with low-flying planes and helicopters. "If you had one of these would you fly it near an airport?"

In June, a drone was spotted at the Two Bulls Fire near Bend in central Oregon. Drones have also been spotted at a fire in Washington state that destroyed hundreds of homes, and another that went aloft at a Northern California wildfire.

"Anytime that that happens, folks working these fires are going to feel compromised and they're not going to want to fly until they're sure the airspace is safe to fly in," said Aitor Bidaburu, chair of the National Multi-Agency Coordinating Group at the center. "We have enough hazards on the ground."

Managers said tankers trying to make drops to protect firefighters or homes might have to turn away if a drone is in the area.

The Federal Aviation Administration allows hobbyists to use model aircraft or small drones as long as they keep them away from airports, fly them under 400 feet and keep the aircraft within sight of the remote-controlling operator at all times.

However, wildfires typically have temporary flight restrictions that extend up and out from the fire so helicopters and retardant aircraft can do drops without worrying about other aircraft. The restrictions include small drones.

"If they're going to be flying these things, they need to educate themselves," Ferris said.

Those seeking to fly drones near wildfires might be able to do so legally, but they would first need permission from wildfire managers. The center said individuals using drones that interfere with firefighting efforts could face civil penalties and criminal prosecution.

Center spokesman Randy Eardley said some state agencies fly drones over fires to find hotspots, but the operators are communicating with wildfire managers.

"The problem with these hobbyists and recreationists is we have no communication with them," he said.
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Old Aug 15, 2014, 05:59 PM
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Arrest could lead to Drone controls in Hollywood

Arrest could lead to Drone controls in Hollywood

8/14/2014 1:00 AM PDT BY TMZ STAFF

Authorities have confiscated a drone from a man on a mission against the LAPD ... and the action could end up protecting celebrities in Hollywood from unmanned aircrafts.

We've learned Tom Zebra -- the guy who flew a drone over the Hollywood Division of the LAPD a few weeks back -- was flying his drone around the harbor in San Pedro, CA when the Port Police confronted him and ordered him to land the aircraft.

The cops grabbed the drone and then placed Zebra under arrest for a city law that prohibits anyone from flying an unmanned aircraft around a public beach. He was cited and released.

We've learned the arrest got the LAPD buzzing ... because L.A. authorities have been stumped on how to regulate drones. Up to now the LAPD and prosecutors saw no way to prohibit drones that fly under 400 feet.

But the arrest got law enforcement thinking ... they never thought about this particular law ... which not only prohibits drones around public beaches, but all publicly owned spaces and adjoining parking lots, pools, piers, golf courses and the like.

We're told L.A. law enforcement now thinks that law can be used to protect celebs who live along California's coast ... including the throngs of famous folks in and around Malibu.

Turns out the law also prohibits drones from buzzing over horse paths and hiking trails, and lots of celebs -- especially in the Calabasas area -- have homes that would be protected.

For celeb homes not protected under the existing law ... we're told authorities are working to draft new legislation aimed at protecting all private residences from drones.
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