Morgan County man’s drone shot down mid-flight; FAA investigating

COALFIELD (WATE) – A Morgan County man says is angry and frustrated after his drone was shot down mid-flight.

A security camera at Seventh Day Adventist Church on Guy Jones Road in Coalfield, across the street from where Brad Jones lives, caught the sound of his drone being shot and then falling to the ground on Sunday, April 16.

He’s been studying the security footage, along with the bullet hole in his drone, for the last week.

“When I heard the shot and saw that the drone was going down, I just had a sickening feeling that there goes $3,600 down the drain,” said Jones.

His drone landed on the church’s property and he’s now turned his flight pattern over to the FAA. The yellow lines on Jones’ flight pattern show where his drone was flying that Sunday.

Brad Jones’ flight plan

“This is the area that the shot came from. As you can see, I never crossed the property,” he said.

The FAA says shooting an unmanned aircraft could result in a civil penalty from their organization and possibly criminal charges by federal, state or local law enforcement.

“The FAA has laws that we have to follow as a drone pilot and we have to follow, staying below 400 feet, stay in the line of sight, those kinds of things,” said Jones.

He says he’s frustrated because he heard a gunshot minutes before the one that damaged his drone. Jones worries that if the FAA doesn’t move forward with their investigation it’ll be open season on drones.

“It’s a word of warning to drone users, but also to people that it is a federal offense to shoot a drone out of the air,” he said.

Jones says he flies his drone to take pictures of sunsets and only does it over property friends and family owns.

“I’m afraid to fly now. I don’t know, where can I go and fly now because if you can’t fly out your back door, where can you fly?”

Jones also filed a report with the Morgan County Sheriff’s Department. Jones says he’s worried there’s not much they can do and that if investigators ever pinpoint a suspect, that person can only be charged with vandalism.

Besides charges and penalties, the FAA says firing at a drone is a serious safety hazard. If one is hit by a bullet, it could crash, causing damage to people or property nearby, or it could hit other objects while falling.

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