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This land is your land, sky not included


Last year, drone enthusiast Eric Joe launched his hand-built drone above his parents' home in Modesto, California, a few days after Thanksgiving.

The drone's flight lasted three minutes and thirty seconds before it was blown out of the sky by a neighbor's 12-gauge shotgun.

Neighbor Brett McBay sniped the drone in one try, claiming he thought it was a CIA surveillance device, according to media reports. Actually the drone didn't have a camera onboard. The drone crashed to the ground next to the Joe family's driveway, 203 feet away from the dirt road where the neighbor's property began.

After exchanging some words with his armed neighbor, the drone pilot felt it more prudent to continue their conversation via email. That evening, Mr. Joe wrote to the sharpshooter, asking for $700 to cover his damaged drone. He also asked Mr. McBay to refrain from shooting at their house, reports said.

“Just as you asked me to give the courtesy of notifying you of my flying activities, I also ask you the courtesy of not shooting live ammunition in our direction. This is the third time discharge from your firearms has hit our house and property. The first incident left a bullet hole in the door by our garage. The second incident occurred last Thanksgiving when birdshot from your skeet shooting activities rained into our backyard. The third, of course, being what we're currently discussing,” Mr. Joe wrote.

Mr. McBay shot back an email that $700 was too much, offering to give the drone pilot $350 instead. (A complete drone replacement would have cost $1500.)

In 2015, Mr. Joe filed a case against his neighbor in small claims court and won. The court in May awarded him $850 in damages for his drone. Mr. McBay has not paid at this time, according to media reports.

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