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No Drone Zone: Part II

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WEST MONROE, La. (KNOE 8 News) - Weekend after weekend, model plane enthusiasts return to West Monroe, near the Ouachita Rifle Range. They're showing they can follow the current laws on the books for unmanned aerial vehicles, even though some proposals are threatening to keep model planes with cameras, what's now known as drones, on the ground.

Roger Wilson serves as the president of the Northeast Air and Radio Control Club and he doesn't want to find a new hobby.

"There are already voyeurism laws, you can't just go film anybody anyway," Wilson said. 

Political leaders in Virginia have banned the use of drones, at least until 2015. In February of this year, they became the first state to give a thumbs up to anti-drone legislation. Wilson believes that's not fair.

"If you're going to ban radio control video equipment," Wilson said. "Then you need to ban telescopic lenses because somebody could stand on the road and film something far away just as they could from an aircraft.

You may not have seen them around, but drones have been in the skies for decades. Not just from the federal government, but from people like Wilson.

Richard Hanson serves as the government affairs director for the Academy of Model Aeronautics. Hanson remembers using his first drone back in the 1970's.

"What has changed recently is the technology and the capability of the imaging equipment and more than that, the capabilities of the platforms that are now being considered in some cases used in the civil environment," Hanson said.

About 35 states have some sort of legislation or laws already on the books pertaining to drones. The Bayou State is not on that list and locals are hoping Louisiana leaders keep it that way.

"We try to follow the rules of our governing body, which states we are to fly at an AMA approved flying site," Wilson said.

That is why hobbyists are near the rifle range every weekend.

However, Congress recently passed legislation integrating unmanned and manned aircrafts in the same airspace starting September 20, 2015.
     
The FAA is currently working on ways to keep all types of aircrafts safe from harm before the law is in effect, especially since law enforcement agencies are beginning to resort to eyes in the sky to help the ones on the ground.

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