By: Andrew Harrison

Unmanned air crafts, flying toys, or “Shotgun Practice.” Whatever you call them, drones are a very hot topic in the world today. Many governments across the globe are discussing and creating new laws to make the piloting safer and the public concerns resolved. Most governments simply state in their laws that the act of piloting drones is prohibited entirely and punishable by jail time and fines. However, the same cannot be said for the United States. There is a very complex history behind the laws and ideas about drones in the United States. A local expert of this complex history is Matthew Waite, a professor of the University of Nebraska Lincoln’s Drone Lab. Using comedy, demonstrations, and historical facts, Waite explained the history of drones and some of his personal experience with drones in relation to the laws of the United States. The legal history of drones began with the Romans and their property laws. The Romans believed that when a citizen owned property, it was assumed that he also owned the the sky and the heavens above his or her property. This belief began to change starting in 1783 in France. At this time, two brothers made the curious decision to fill a large cloth balloon with hot air, thus creating the first hot air balloon. With the new possibility of flying, lawyers of the time began to consider whether or not flying over someone’s property is indeed trespassing. The fascinating legal history of drones is only developed further with the Causby Chicken Farm in World War II. When a military bomber plane runway was developed near a chicken farm in North Carolina. The chickens of the family that lived on this farm grew so uneasy from the sounds of the bombers landing and taking off that they began to beat their heads against the walls of the chicken coop until death. With the loss of everything they had, the Causby family sued the United States government for intrusion of property. The verdict of this case was important in the legal history of drones because it determined a maximum height for personal property. It was said that all land owners should be able to plant a tree, and seeing that trees can grow up to 200 feet, it was determined that personal property elevates to 200 feet in the air. In the early

All of those build up the case on the piloting side but camera’s are also a problem. The first commercially available camera’s was created in the 1890’s. This freaked people out at the time  and a Harvard student wrote “The Right to Privacy,” but the First Amendment solved this by protecting cameras as speech. Drones have all of the laws previously said and then some, Matthew has come across this in his coverage of the 2012 Nebraska Drought. He took an aerial photo and the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration), created in 1954, sent a cease and desist letter to him. Matthew decided to play ball with the administration but this cost him much head ache. Waite spent hundreds of dollars and many hours trying to appeal to the FAA. Even now it is very hard to appeal the broken system in place to keep drone operators and the general public happy. Either way, drones are the future

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