When you take a drone out of the case and begin preparations for flight in a public place it is inevitable that you attract a little attention.
The worry? Will that attention be negative?
The news has been filled with negative reactions to drones. To be expected of course, drones are a new technology bound to attract attention, and the media tend to write about something only when it goes bad. If it bleeds, it leads reporting.
The result has been quite a few reports of negative reaction in public to a drone. Reports of spying or snooping into private property have become common. There has certainly been some hysteria surrounding drones, some justified, quite a bit completely unjustified.
The worst fears? Earlier this month it appears someone attempted to assassinate Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro using an explosive laden drone. The incident only goes to incite more distrust of the technology.
Polls of public attitude towards drones are mixed. About half believe they should be banned from flying near homes, and most think they should not be allowed to fly near events or rallies.
It is interesting that attitudes towards drones are strongly age based, with older folks far more skeptical of the technology than younger. A large proportion of younger respondents noted they would be indifferent or interested in the drone, only a small minority thought they would be scared or angry.
So how does this work in practice? I find a nice comfortable rock to sit on above the beach. Open up the drone and prepare it for flight. There are any number of folks nearby using this popular county park… What happens?
Folks come over to take a look, usually the kids first, parents following.
To date I have not met with any notable negative attention. Quite the opposite, I have had a number of positive experiences. I have met folks, had nice conversations, and generally enjoyed flying and showing others what the drone can do.
The reactions may be something about my appearance and demeanor. I have found that folks generally see me as friendly. Kids in particular approach me without caution. A couple times now I found myself surrounded by kids eager to see the drone, peering over my shoulder at the screen as I fly.
It will be interesting to see if this trend continues. Judging by other drone operator experiences I should expect to be confronted at some point.