Drone crash in Ashland raises questions

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ASHLAND - A mysterious drone that crashed into an Ashland man's backyard was one topic on the agenda at the board of aldermen meeting Tuesday night.

According to First Ward Alderman George Elliott, the drone crashed into the resident's backyard several weeks ago, but little has been done to track down the owner of the drone or talk about drone safety. A letter sent to Ashland's mayor and police chief from the man cited privacy as a concern about these drones.

Third Ward Alderman Jesse Bronson said the board is meeting Tuesday to talk about what the city should do about the increase they've seen in recreational drone use.

"Technology's always changing. And sometimes it's for the better, and sometimes it brings other issues up," Bronson said. "This is one that brings issues up; we've got problems with people flying them around."

Elliott said he doesn't believe there's much the city can or should do when it comes to regulating drones. He said drone regulation is more of a federal issue, under the regulation of the Federal Aviation Administration.

"It's disconcerting for a local jursidiction like us, but it's just not something I think we'll have the resources to do anything about," Elliott said.

According to FAA restrictions, people are not allowed to fly recreational drones within five miles of an airport unless they have prior permission from the airport and the control tower. Many areas of the city of Ashland fall within five miles of the Columbia Regional Airport. 

"We get people that are flying them up high, we got planes coming in and it's going to cause way too many issues," Bronson said.

However, Ashland Police Chief Lyn Woolford said the City of Ashland has no legal authority over the flying of drones, so Ashland police have currently no way to enforce these FAA restrictions. 

The FAA announced Mondayit will soon require recreational drone users to register their unmanned aircraft with the government, but there is no timeline yet for the implementation of this registration.