San Diego pilots call drones a danger

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SAN DIEGO – Pilots have reported hundreds of sightings of drones in the United States, with some of them in San Diego.”

“Over the past year, we had 2 reported sightings within the county. Both were near Palomar Airport,” said Gig Conaughton, Communications Specialist with San Diego County.

Conaughton said in the unincorporated area of the county in Borrego Springs, there have been nearly a dozen sightings. Two near the airport and from 7 to 9 in the foothills near the airport.

This week, the Federal Aviation Administration and Congress is hearing testimony considering regulations of drones.

“When we see these things now we have no way of knowing,” said Christopher Skula, Chief Instructor and CEO of Learn to Fly San Diego.

Skula applauds the FAA’s actions in regulating the devices.

“God forbid there’s an accident and people are hurt and it’s fatal. Who’s responsible for this? What is going to happen and how are we going to deal with this?” said Skula.

Current regulations only permit recreational drones to fly up to 500 feet and prohibit the devices from being flown in the vicinity of an airport. Sluka said drones are a concern to pilots, because they are seen in the air.

“Not very often, but enough to make an impression,” said, “The pilot community is relatively small and we all share stories.”

For that reason, Sluka said stricter rules are necessary, but determining what they are will not be an easy task.

“There’s just so many variables and it needs to be worked out. I think that’s why it is such a tough job for the FAA,” said Sluka.

“Someone’s going to ruin it for the rest of us,” said Chance Roth.

Roth is the Co-founder of AirDroids, the San Diego based Drone Company that created Pocket Drone. Roth said he’s not too concerned about the FAA grounding all drones.

“I feel like we’ll be able to leap over any hurdles presented to us,” said Roth.

He agrees regulation is necessary, however he said not for all drones.

“They need to be more soft-handed with some of the smaller drones. Toys and hobbies under 15 pounds should be looked at differently than larger drones,” said Roth. “We don’t tend to go that high about 4 or 500 feet is the standard limit.”

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