This is a tough one to unravel. Who do you think is the good guy? The duck hunter who in a public-land site, is hunting and who’s hunt is being interfered with by drones that are scaring the ducks away. Or, is the owner of a drone who is flying his gadget in the same public land, and then retrieves it only to find bullet holes in the drone.

I have strong feelings about the rights of both the hunter and the drone flyer. I believe in and respect private property, but I also believe that a person wanting to hunt, is licensed, and is on public land, should be able to hunt without interference from electronic gadgets. Is there a hierarchy of who’s rights supersedes another’s?

Do we need to institute “Drone free zones” where a person can hunt, run around naked, or act out the role of Othello in the privacy of his or her space? Must we now be worried whatever we do that some stranger is watching our every action? Drones have a major potential to provide security; but the need for security has a counter-point which is privacy. This is an age old, repetitive question that challenges what we require most; freedom or security.

Currently, there is a bill in congress which will prevent drones from flying in or near airports. Is this bill counter-intuitive? Why ban drones from airports when they can be a tool for securing the perimeters. I can envision the U.S. using drones to secure the square miles of land and water that surrounds our airports. Imagine the size and sprawl of JFK Airport with property bordering highways, swamps land, urban neighborhoods and thousands of yards of bay-front. However, I agree that a ban on private use is a no-brainer.

The real key of course is not the drone; they are simply a tool. The key is the user. I believe drone users should be licensed and there should be license tiers as there are in surface transport; private users, commercial users, government users, etc. The question is, how do we manage this tool and ensure that it is used for safety, protection and unobtrusive recreation; and not become a wicked hobby of an electronic peeping Tom.

Mr. Alba was previously Editor of the Airport Press for 12 years covering both local as well as global aviation news. Prior to this, Mr. Alba had Executive positions in Systems Engineering and Marketing with IBM World Trade, and had foreign assignments in the Far East and Latin America earning three Outstanding Achievement Awards. Mr. Alba also directed a new function dealing with Alternate Fuels for Public Service Electric & Gas company in New Jersey and founded a Natural Gas Vehicle Consortium consisting of car company executives and fleet owners, and NGV suppliers in New Jersey. Mr. Alba was a founding partner of ATA, an IT Consulting company which is still active in Central and South America. After leaving the armed forces, Mr. Alba’s initial employee was the U.S. Defense Department as an analyst.

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