Violated by a Drone

Have you ever had a bad ‘feeling’ about someone or something? 

     My teenage daughter and I were at a beautiful resort in northern Minnesota last week paddle boarding on the lake wearing our bathing suits.  When we were approximately 20 yards from the shoreline we were approached by a drone.  Suddenly this drone was flying very close to my daughter’s face, then going up and down as if it was scanning her body.  This activity went on for about two minutes.  It was far enough away that she couldn’t swat it down with the paddle, but close enough to feel very violated.  

    Obviously uncomfortable my daughter asked another teen girl passing by on her paddle board, “What is this thing doing?” because it was not moving out from in front of her.  

    The young woman responded “Oh, I asked too because it was happening to me, but someone said it’s just a dad filming his wife and kids, so you have nothing to worry about, it’s not some creepy guy.”   

    “Oh good” my daughter laughed, and the drone quickly flew away.  

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    I had a sick feeling inside.  I felt like I just watched my daughter being recorded from a distance and I could do nothing about it.  I don’t know when exactly the drone flew off because I was looking for the ‘wife and kids’ which were nowhere to be seen.  Deep inside I wanted to believe I was overreacting, besides I didn’t really know if this person was taking pictures or recording my daughter in her bathing suit from multiple angles without my consent.  That’s when I realized ‘I really have no proof’ and maybe this person is allowed to fly the drone here, seems strange to me, but maybe.  I hate to admit this next part…I DID NOTHING, I SAID NOTHING.  Seriously, what person does this?  If you were telling me that this happened to you I would have had a list in my mind about what ‘I would do’ in this situation, yet here I was in it, feeling oddly paralyzed.  This occurred on a Wednesday afternoon, and by Friday morning at 3 a.m. I had lost nearly a full night of rest thinking about this situation because of how violating it felt to be totally helpless and that ‘bad sense’ was only getting stronger.  Why didn’t I ask people on the beach who owned the drone?  It is truly amazing how many good ideas I had about what I ‘could have...should have’ done at 3 a.m. 

    Later that morning I made a few calls to people who I thought may have some knowledge and learned that this person regardless if he was recording and taking pictures with the drone; did not have permission by law to fly it so close to people, due to wind gusts that could make it quickly become a flying object that could cause harm.  Next, I learned it was illegal to fly it on a private beach without written permission.  I filed a report with the hotel and local police department.  My daughter, I learned had watched the drone fly back to its owner and had a physical description of the man which we provided to both the resort and authorities.  

    Unfortunately, the resort and the police do not have the name of the guest that was using this drone on the beach.  Had I acted immediately things may have ended differently.  I hope that you are never put in an awkward situation, but if you are here are some verses to apply.

  1. - Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.  Proverbs 3:5 ESV If you have a ‘bad’ feeling or ‘sick’ feeling put your trust in the Lord, pray to Him, that “feeling” is often His Spirit warning you and making you aware that something is not right. 
  2. - If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.  James 1:5 ESV.  Ask God immediately ‘what should I do about this?’ 
  3. -An intelligent heart acquires knowledge, and the ear of the wise seeks knowledge. Proverbs 18:15 ESV  Take the time to learn what the laws are or what other opportunities may be available for you to protect yourself or others in the future.  

I’m happy to report that the resort is putting in place a protocol for employees to follow to address any future use of personal drones on the property.  The resort is making it clear that drone use is prohibited and wants to ensure that this does not happen to anyone else in the future.  

When you speak out you do not know how many others you may have spared a similar disturbing experience.  Is there anything you need to speak out about? 

Written by Jamie Shaver