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Drones in the News – Open Letter


It will probably take minds greater than mine to figure out how to do this properly.  I suggest we contact the news media next time we have a drone event and make a big deal about how we, and others, use drones responsibly.  Make it a “media education day”.  The news folks have no clue what is good and bad drone pilot behavior.  Let them know that we strongly advocate the proper use of our hobby drones.  The media needs to understand, and hopefully report, that drones over fires that block water bombers are not flown by the same species as us.  We need to strongly condemn those activities.  


I know we have some drone activity rules on our website but we can make a bigger deal out of it.  We can modify the website to make these rules more obvious.  As a club we can create some guidelines for drone modelers, member or not.  We could contact anyone selling drones and ask them to add a sheet of our guidelines to all drone sales.  


Of course there is social media that can be exploited for this purpose.  Those familiar with those outlets should have some ideas.


If we do not become a loud voice for the responsible drone hobbyist then who will?  We have a chance to help steer the narrative regarding future drone legislation.  If we do not, then someone else will and probably not in our favor.  I feel it is time to start the discussion about what we can do.  I know a lot of folks will have a some great ideas where to take this.  


One might think this is within the purview of the AMA.  I think it probably is ultimately.  Unfortunately the AMA seems to be heavily involved with other, larger, matters regarding the FAA rule making.  Lets help them as well with our expertise and proactive attitude.  We should keep the AMA involved/informed about all our efforts.


Many in our area sell drones.  I would think this would be a positive step towards securing the future market for drones and avoiding any unwanted legislation.  I call on the leadership of SEFSD and other local leaders in the industry to start the discussion about how we can begin to reshape the negative perception of “Drones in the News”.


(This is not meant as criticism.  Our president and others have already done a lot of great work in this direction.  I hope a discussion can be started to see what more can be done.  Hopefully it will involve, at least, club leaders, industry proprietors and the AMA.)


Responses so far:



“In general I think it is a very good idea to promote “drones” as well as model flying in general in a positive light when ever possible. I think that in our case with the proximity to Lindberg field some caution is in order so as to not generate too much interest from the FAA tower people or city for that matter. I think it would make sense to try and contact members of the media before holding a event and brief them as to what we do and how we are different from the people that are out interfering with fire fighting efforts so as to try and guide the message somewhat.



What we don’t need is a 6pm news story about a “hot bed of drone activity”  less than 2 miles from Lindberg field.



Steve Neu”



“At the same time it’d behoove us to provide a facility, where some of these potential members can learn about the AMA and safe operation of their toy. Some of our members are already doing outreach through some of the drone user groups. Such as the San Diego DUG Meetup. Granted some of those pilots are flying up north..


Another challenge right now is the FAA / AMA legal battle. This has placed many clubs, including ours, in the middle.


To Steve Neu’s point.. We don’t want a “More news at 10!” moment at the field. At the same time we don’t want a “Drone launched from Fiesta Island takes down News Chopper 11!” moment as well. It’s a fine line to walk.





“I appreciate your inputs and will definitely join Scott in this discussion at the next BOD meeting.

Steve B,
If you have any ideas on adjustments to the web pages, feel free to fly them past us as I trust your insights. Possibly a change to our mission statement to include promotion of the safe use of drones?


We have already been doing outreach events with regards to the media and community.
on 27 December Jim had 4 local radio stations promoting that if you received a drone for Christmas, feel free to bring it to SEFSD for training and instruction in safe operation.

For international drone day at our field in march we invited local media and had 3 news trucks running spots on what we were doing locally and I think I heard the words ” educate the public” come out of Jim’s mouth at least 100 times that day.

I am completely open to suggestions if anyone has recommendations.