Images and videos of the protests last week in Cape Town were shared widely across social media, but if there was one image that was more widely shared than any other, it was probably this one:
And while most people’s thoughts on seeing it were about the power of the protest and the sheer numbers of people present, I was wondering how legal it was.
And it seems like it might not be very legal at all. (Apologies for the Business Insider link.)
They mention the fact that Parliament is a National Key Point (although the photo is not taken over Parliament). They mention the fact that the pilot is flying over a crowd (not good practice, because a kilo of drone falling from the sky is going to sting a bit, minimum). They also point out that there was a NOTAM (NOtice To AirMen) (did you just assume my gender?) (let’s not go there) in force because of the World Economic Forum meeting at the CTICC.
I hadn’t considered that one, but it’s probably the most serious of the alleged infringements.
The reason I didn’t really go much further with my thoughts about the photo was twofold: firstly, that (as with every other aspect of life here) no-one cares about the laws and they’re never enforced anyway, and secondly, that I genuinely thought it must have been taken by a professional operating from a helicopter, because (to my eye at least), it seems to have been taken from well above the 120m ceiling allowed for drones. And yes, I know that’s just another law to ignore, but if I was a news person (which was who I had assumed had taken it) and I wanted this shot, I’d have used a chopper, not a drone.
It’s more bad press for drones and it’s going to highlight the lack of sensible admin around flying them. We have yet another dysfunctional government body to blame for that one, together with a misleading media. For example, this line:
Drone pilots have long complained that the SACAA is not issuing pilot licences fast enough. With an application process that can take up to three years… only an estimated 1% of those who operate drones in South Africa are doing so legally.
…is confusing. You don’t need a licence to fly a drone if you are a hobbyist. Whatever the guy who took this photo is guilty of, it’s wrong to assume that he needed a licence to fly his drone (although a little common sense may have been beneficial).