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65-Year-Old Woman Shoots Down Drone Over Her Virginia Property With One Shot (arstechnica.com) 644

An anonymous reader writes from a report via Ars Technica: Jennifer Youngman, a 65-year-old woman living in rural northern Virginia shot down a drone flying over her property with a single shotgun blast. Ars Technica reports: "Youngman told Ars that she had just returned from church one Sunday morning and was cleaning her two shotguns -- .410 and a .20 gauge -- on her porch. She had a clear view of the Blue Ridge Mountains and neighbor Robert Duvall's property (yes, the same Robert Duvall from The Godfather). Youngman had seen two men set up a card table on what she described as a 'turnaround place' on a country road adjacent to her house. 'I go on minding my business, working on my .410 shotgun and the next thing I know I hear bzzzzz,' she said. 'This thing is going down through the field, and they're buzzing like you would scaring the cows.' Youngman explained that she grew up hunting and fishing in Virginia, and she was well-practiced at skeet and deer shooting. 'This drone disappeared over the trees and I was cleaning away, there must have been a five- or six-minute lapse, and I heard the bzzzzz,' she said, noting that she specifically used 7.5 birdshot. 'I loaded my shotgun and took the safety off, and this thing came flying over my trees. I don't know if they lost command or if they didn't have good command, but the wind had picked up. It came over my airspace, 25 or 30 feet above my trees, and hovered for a second. I blasted it to smithereens.'" Ars goes on to explain that aerial trespassing isn't currently recognized under American law. "The Supreme Court ruled in a case known as United States v. Causby that a farmer in North Carolina could assert property rights up to 83 feet in the air. There is a case still pending on whether or not Kentucky drone pilot, David Boggs, was trespassing when he flew his drone over somebody else's property. "Broggs asked the court to rule that there was no trespassing and that he is therefor entitled to damages of $1,500 for the destroyed drone."
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65-Year-Old Woman Shoots Down Drone Over Her Virginia Property With One Shot

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  • Next Phase (Score:5, Funny)

    by SuperKendall ( 25149 ) on Monday August 29, 2016 @05:03PM (#52791983)

    If it's not legal to shoot down drones flying over your property, then people will take the next logical step of simply shooting the drone operators so there is no-one to complain... which is what I expected to happen when a bunch of morons started yelling at an armed 83 year old woman who had already demonstrated herself to be a crack shot at long distance.

    • If he's stupid enough to set foot on your property, in many states that would be well within your rights.

    • Gun Control (Score:5, Insightful)

      by sycodon ( 149926 ) on Monday August 29, 2016 @05:32PM (#52792231)

      Now THAT'S what Gun Control is all about...hitting your target on the first shot, and a kill shot to boot.

    • Re:Next Phase (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Reaperducer ( 871695 ) on Monday August 29, 2016 @05:35PM (#52792247)

      Hard for me to be critical of this woman. I would do the same thing, if I owned both a house and a gun.

      Someone once predicted that drone deliveries are going to devolve into "skeet shooting with prizes."

      The neighbor a couple of doors down has a drone that he likes to fly up and down the street looking in the second-story windows of the houses. I doubt he's seen anything interesting because those things are LOUD! Hard to sneak up on someone with a flying leaf blower.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by wierd_w ( 1375923 )

      Just use nondestructive countermeasures.

      Compressed air and sillystring, or something similar.

      (I am thinking a pvc pipe with a venturi constriction, attached to an air compressor, with a can of silly string feeding in through the venturi hole. Should be able to get really good distance on the silly string by having really good compression in the pipe.)

      Get enough of that junk in the air, it will tangle the prop rotors, and down the drone without seriously damaging it, and raining silly string poses little har

      • So, the question is, will silly string actually take down a drone? The rotors will cut the shit out of a cactus for example, so I would be shocked if it actually did anything whatsoever.

        • The fact that the silly string is light and airy, and somewhat sticky shortly after spraying, means it will cling to rotors, and thus get wrapped up around them, reducing thier lifting power. Get enough wrapped around the rotor, and it will lose all lifiting capacity. Drone falls with engines on full.

          I agree that it needs testing. I might try it some time to see how much is needed to clog and down a drone.

  • by damn_registrars ( 1103043 ) <damn.registrars@gmail.com> on Monday August 29, 2016 @05:03PM (#52791985) Homepage Journal
    The .410 bore is a size of shotgun shell, as is the 20 gauge. There is no decimal in the 20.
    • by s122604 ( 1018036 ) on Monday August 29, 2016 @05:13PM (#52792053)
      .410 is a measurement of the diameter of the bore.
      "gauge" is a measurement how many lead balls, cast into balls the size of the bore, you would need to equal some weight ( a pound I think, I refuse to google it...).
      • by Anubis IV ( 1279820 ) on Monday August 29, 2016 @06:21PM (#52792551)

        The OP is correct in saying that the ".20 gauge" mentioned in the summary makes no sense, since it would suggest a shotgun large enough to fire lead balls that each weighed 5 pounds. We'd practically be talking about small cannonballs at that point.

        Both ".410" and "20-gauge" (with no decimal) are valid ways to refer to a shotgun. The former does so directly by telling you that the bore size is .410, as you said. The latter does so indirectly, since you can use the gauge to calculate the caliber (as you alluded to, shotgun gauges tell you how many lead balls you'd need at that caliber to equal one pound). In the case of a 20-gauge shotgun (i.e. a shotgun that has a caliber the size of a lead ball that is 1/20th a pound), it's a .615 caliber. But few people refer to 20-gauges that way, so far as I know.

        All of which is to say, while ".410" and "20-gauge" are valid ways to refer to shotguns, ".410-gauge" is not (because .410 is a bore size, not a gauge) nor is ".20-gauge" (because it's supposed to be "20-gauge", not ".20-gauge").

  • by portwojc ( 201398 ) on Monday August 29, 2016 @05:04PM (#52791989) Homepage

    She got to clean the shotgun again.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 29, 2016 @05:07PM (#52792009)

    "Youngman told Ars that she had just returned from church one Sunday morning and was cleaning her two shotguns -- .410 and a .20 gauge -- on her porch"

    Yeesh.

    • by wonkey_monkey ( 2592601 ) on Monday August 29, 2016 @05:29PM (#52792215) Homepage

      Hey, there's nothing in the bible against guns.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by I75BJC ( 4590021 )
        If fact, there are verses in the Bible that are pro-gun (in a general sense) and pro-self-defense. Jesus Christ told his followers to sell their extra cloak and buy a sword. Many people, especially those unfamiliar with the Gospels, don't know this.
    • by Reaperducer ( 871695 ) on Monday August 29, 2016 @05:38PM (#52792269)

      Yes, she has a different lifestyle than yours. She must be mocked and ridiculed.

      Way to celebrate diversity there, homie.

  • Good for the Goose (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Tulsa_Time ( 2430696 ) on Monday August 29, 2016 @05:08PM (#52792021)
    Ask "the same Robert Duvall from The Godfather" if he would be ok with one of those hovering over his home.... I am sure he is fine with the press/paparazzi using those. If it was scaring her cows and invading her privacy... all I can say is "good shot".
  • Seems pretty high up in the sky to claim the drone was trespassing. I hope none of the local news helicopters happen to fly over her house.
    • by zlives ( 2009072 )

      she got it with birdshot...

    • If you fire on an FAA registered aircraft, you will find yourself in a world of hurt. And that's even if that helicopter made an emergency landing on your property. (so 0 feet)

    • by asylumx ( 881307 ) on Monday August 29, 2016 @05:20PM (#52792125)
      If news helicopters are flying that low, they are violating FAA minimum altitude regulations anyway (91.119 [ecfr.gov]).

      (c) Over other than congested areas. An altitude of 500 feet above the surface, except over open water or sparsely populated areas. In those cases, the aircraft may not be operated closer than 500 feet to any person, vessel, vehicle, or structure.

      (d) Helicopters, powered parachutes, and weight-shift-control aircraft. If the operation is conducted without hazard to persons or property on the surface—

      (1) A helicopter may be operated at less than the minimums prescribed in paragraph (b) or (c) of this section, provided each person operating the helicopter complies with any routes or altitudes specifically prescribed for helicopters by the FAA; and

      (2) A powered parachute or weight-shift-control aircraft may be operated at less than the minimums prescribed in paragraph (c) of this section.

      • ... they are violating FAA minimum altitude regulations ... (1) A helicopter may be operated at less than the minimums prescribed in paragraph (b) or (c) of this section, provided each person operating the helicopter complies with any routes or altitudes specifically prescribed for helicopters by the FAA

        Were there any FAA routes or altitudes specifically prescribed for that location? No? Then they aren't violating the FAA minimum altitude restrictions.

    • by godrik ( 1287354 )

      I am no fan of shooting drones and no legal expert. But a 3 story house would be roughly of that height. It is a pretty good height to snap pictures through your last floor windows.

  • Case Backwards (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ytene ( 4376651 ) on Monday August 29, 2016 @05:16PM (#52792081)
    If you look at this from another perspective, Jennifer Youngman was just in the process of test-firing one of her just-cleaned shotguns, when a drone, flying dangerously low over her property, was unfortunate enough to stray into the line of fire.

    I fail to see how this is Jennifer Youngman's problem. Had the drone operator been sensible enough to fly their drone in a public recreation area, or drone park, instead of over private property, their loss could have been avoided.


    In a kind-of unrelated comment, how can it be illegal and tresspassing to stand on private land belonging to another, yet legal and OK to be hovering an unspecified distance above the same piece of land? "No, Your Honor, I was *not* tresspassing, I was levitating..."
  • I wonder if the $1500 in damages would even begin to cover his FAA fines.

    I suspect the legal gray area for RC aircraft is going to be fixed, and not in the favor of hobbyists. We can thank the many jackass drone pilots for the bad PR that is turning popular opinion against us.

  • by tomhath ( 637240 ) on Monday August 29, 2016 @05:18PM (#52792097)

    Youngman said the intruding pair quickly brought attention to themselves when they exited their SUV, parked in front of Duvall's residence.

    Youngman said a series of burglaries in the area a few years ago, coupled with sightseers, has caused an increase in neighborhood awareness, as well as action by Duvall's security team.

    Youngman said she believed in 2nd Amendment rights and also was irritated that people would try to disturb Duvall.

    “The man is a national treasure and they should leave him the fuck alone,” she said.

    The Fauquier County Sheriff’s Office said it had no record of anyone formally complaining about this incident.

    Sounds like a good neighbor.

  • Whitehouse (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 29, 2016 @05:19PM (#52792113)

    If they won't let you fly a drone over the white house without permissions, then it shouldn't be allowed over my house either without my permission. I think ruling in favor of damages is a terrible precedent.

  • She better call her NRA rep to get an lawyer on retainer just in case.

  • by kheldan ( 1460303 ) on Monday August 29, 2016 @05:28PM (#52792199) Journal
    Someone has to take a stand against these rude people with their privacy-invading toys. I look forward to more property owners protecting their right to privacy on the property they own. The more it happens, the more controversy it'll stir up, and the sooner there will be legislation protecting people's privacy from this airborne menace.
  • "Youngman said that she recycled the drone but managed to still be irritated by the debris left behind. 'I’ve had two punctures in my lawn tractor,' she said."

    Um, I'm guessing the 'punctures' did not come from the drone.
  • varmint (Score:3, Funny)

    by PopeRatzo ( 965947 ) on Monday August 29, 2016 @06:02PM (#52792411) Journal

    Jennifer Youngman, a 65-year-old woman living in rural northern Virginia shot down a drone flying over her property with a single shotgun blast.

    She was later quoted as saying, "And I boilt that dern thing for nearly two hours and it never did get tender none. My husband, Cousin Carl, damn near broke a tooth."

  • Courtesy? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by nealric ( 3647765 ) on Monday August 29, 2016 @06:46PM (#52792721)
    Legal issues aside, if she was aware of the operator's location, it was a dick move to destroy the drone without simply talking to the operator first. Half the drones I see are being operated by kids with their parents standing by as a fun hobby. There's not always nearby or sufficient public land for the activity, and it's normal to want to try out new flying locations. If she had a problem with operating a drone in the area, she could have told them so. 99% of drone operators are going to comply in that sort of situation. If they were rude after being asked to leave, then I can see justification for shooting the drone down.
    • Re:Courtesy? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by somenickname ( 1270442 ) on Monday August 29, 2016 @07:08PM (#52792863)

      If there isn't enough nearly public land for the activity then don't buy a drone. If you don't live near lakes that allow boats, you don't buy one anyway, use it where it doesn't belong and then shrug and say, "Sorry, no other place to use my boat".

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Solandri ( 704621 )

      it was a dick move to destroy the drone without simply talking to the operator first.

      It was a dick move for them to fly the drone over private property without simply talking to the property owner first. The drone operators were the first to fail to extend a simple courtesy. I'm not at all surprised nor sympathetic that their lack of courtesy was returned in kind.

      If she had a problem with operating a drone in the area, she could have told them so.

      The drone operators were the instigator. They took the

  • by ctrl-alt-canc ( 977108 ) on Tuesday August 30, 2016 @02:15AM (#52794433)
    "I love the smell of 7.5 birdshot in the morning".

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