Pottering around in my garden last weekend, an unusual noise in the sky attracted my attention. Glancing up, I saw a drone slowly buzzing its way across the rooftops. I then watched it move along the tree line at the back of the garden then disappear, but a few seconds later it was back, returning on the same course.
Now, due to the proximity of houses and trees around here, the ‘pilot’ cannot have been flying by line of sight, so must have been using an on-board camera to navigate. My interest in this event turned from the mildly curious to a full-on ‘Meldrewesque’ intrusion of privacy. I’m sure the legal eagles on FM will correct me but, as a freeholder, do I not have rights to the airspace above my property and is this unwarranted intrusion not a form of trespass?
Certainly, one of my neighbours is a confirmed heliotrope and is not averse to divesting herself of clothing when the sun shines so she certainly would not welcome this invasion of privacy. I know our local plod are trialling drones so should the craft not display some form of identification like chequered paintwork or blue flashing LED’s so that the public can recognise that it’s carrying out important law-enforcing duties?

               Kev’s neighbour.

Do I have the right to take action against the offending article? Will a laser pointer pen disable the camera? Or can I escalate the action and take it out completely? I was thinking that a catapult / ball bearing combination would require quite outstanding accuracy, so an air rifle might be the weapon of choice, but again it would only be a one shot chance. Obviously, your best chance would be a shotgun with the widest possible choke to ensure contact with some moving parts.

There is the question of spent pellets raining down on your neighbour’s hydrangeas, although these days those spherical missiles would more likely be hitting gazebos, trampolines, decking or faux Victorian conservatories (particularly the type that is bolted onto a terraced house and covers half the back garden – really..?) judging by the vista that most of us can see out of our bedroom windows.
But, as always, my mind whirred on and I started to think about the possibility of drone applications for fishing. Obviously, as a bait delivery system, a drone could be very accurately guided to deliver a concentrated carpet of free samples. However, before that and if the water is clear enough, reconnaissance flights would be able to pick out holding features, bars, gullies, shoals or even individual fish. The drone could be equipped to fly round carrying your baited tackle and drop it into the middle of a shoal or slap bang onto the nose of an individual fish.

Photo: thanks to Gardner Tackle

If you widen the application, how many times have you trudged round to ‘your’ preferred swim only to find someone is already there? The drone-equipped angler can stay in the car park and send off his aerial scout to see if it’s worth getting the gear out of the car and to move somewhere else if necessary. Or you could see where the interloper has placed his bait, select a swim nearby and then get your drone to drop your tackle right in the middle of his pre-baiting. Or, if you are feeling miffed at being usurped, turn the drone into attack mode and launch an aerial bombardment (choice of material used as ammunition to be a free choice) to convince the angler to move on.
Going back to the law-enforcement angle (see what I did there?) bailiffs, EA or otherwise, could cover large areas by using drones to scout for miscreants, those fishing illegally or using too many rods for instance. Anyone hearing the drone’s approach and packing up to avoid apprehension could be tracked to their vehicle and registration plates noted.
Then again, this could be the ideal chance for the fishing camo’ industry to earn their corn and to provide real stealth equipment that allows you to fish without aerial detection. I’m thinking along the lines of the sail shades that you also see in peoples’ back gardens. A couple of bivvy poles to drape the camo’ cover over and you disappear. You will, of course, need to camouflage all the gear that won’t fit under the cover such as rods, reels, pods, bait buckets, landing nets etc.
Going back to the back garden scenario, if we are not allowed to bring down these ‘eyes in the sky’ then the option would be to cover your entire garden with camouflage netting. You would see the netting bobbing up and down as the kids bounce on the trampoline underneath but the major benefit would be that of sparing us the sight of all those faux Victorian conservatories…

Kev Perkins

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