Scene in Edmonds: Picnic Point overview


From John Rumpelein, taken at Picnic Point in Edmonds.


  1. Drones are not legal, and could endanger people walking on the beach. Sorry I don’t want to be a Debbie Downer but I was hoping the train view was the one and only time drones would be shown on your format.

  2. Jenny, on what do you base your claim that “drones are not legal”?

    Also, it is possible that I could have injured someone on the beach flying it if I wasn’t careful. This is also true of a kite or a frisbee. The car I drove there in is considerably more dangerous than any of those things; on the order of fifty thousand people a year are killed by automobiles in this country. Would you care to hazard a guess how many people were killed by “drones” in this country last year?

    Zero. That’d be zero.

    • I recently got a new Autel drone and have been taking some great videos with it in Edmonds. Yes, the local laws are in flux but the FAA rules are now in place as of August 2016 and they generally are pretty clear. A drone is more regulated than a “model aircraft” as those operate under a general exemption from the FAA but they also can’t legally go above 400 feet nor closer than 5 miles from an airport just like a drone.

      Regarding Picnic Point – it is with 5 nautical miles (5.7 statue miles) of Paine Field and the FAA “sUAS” (drone) regulations that went into effect in August 2016 require a drone operator to call the tower at any (towered) airport within five miles and get permission before flying into so-called Class B, C, or D airspace. Keep that in mind at Picnic Point. Same for Meadowdale Beach park -just within the 5 mile limit of Paint field. The FAA has the legal authority to regulate ALL airspace in the US from the blades of grass on your lawn up to 60,000 feet. And yes, FAA regulated airspace does legally start at the tips of the blades of grass on your lawn 🙂

      I fly mine at Edmonds Marina Park and Brackett’s landing and have never had a complaint. I’m careful to not annoy people and follow the FAA rules about no flying over people and staying under 400 feet altitude. I always like to show people the “live view” from the camera and it never fails to blow people away. I get a lot of questions about it and never any complaints. I make an effort to be a “drone ambassador”.

      I’m a lifelong photography enthusiast and the drone I have with a great “4K” camera opens up a whole new world.

      Also, as far as I know, the only legal restrictions of photographing people in public is if you want to use the images commercially and the faces are “recognizable”, you need a “model release”. You have no legal right to not be photographed in public. I’m not a lawyer but as far as I know there are no laws specifically saying you can’t take pictures of children either. But use common sense and respect people that don’t want to be photographed. I ALWAYS ask permission when I take photos of people close up to make sure they are OK with it. It’s called “being polite and respectful”.

  3. Actually, if the drone were to injure someone or damage property, I believe that drones ( since they are motorized aircraft unlike kites and frisbee) the owner/operator is absolutely liable for any damages done by the operation of that small aircraft. Including causing accidents by its presence if it distracts drivers, injuries if it malfunctions and falls from the sky. I believe it falls into the area of strict liability, as do other aircraft. Cars are required to be insured in recognition of the dangers they pose.
    The laws regarding privately operated drones are in a state of flux currently as they are a new technology and the law needs to catch up.

  4. I’m no lawyer, but I believe you’d be liable if you were to injure someone with a frisbee or a football as well, particularly if it could be proven that you were acting in a negligent manner.

    Many RC pilots carry liability policies in case they injure someone, even though they are not legally required to do so.

    • John – just an FYI – some cities do require proof of insurance for model aircraft pilots. The ordinances sometimes use the old hobby term “electrics” for the different types of aircraft that have electric motors. I’m guessing that drones fit into this category.

  5. I’d also like to point out, as I have on here before, that the “drone” I fly weighs under two pounds. People often bring their children over to look at it. It probably is not what you are envisioning if you are concerned about it falling out of the sky and killing somebody.

  6. D – I think that you are correct, the operator of pretty much anything is potentially liable for damages they cause. Drones are newish, but they are merely part of the model aircraft and radio-controlled flying hobby, which is very well established. I own and have flown several radio-controlled gliders with 6-10ft wingspans. Way back when, I paid $25 for an annual membership with American Modelers Assn. and it included a $1,000,000 liability policy. When insurance companies charge small premiums for high-limit coverage, generally this means risk is low. This type of insurance is readily available to drone pilots.

    There are lots of cities that have model-aircraft ordinances that require proof of liability insurance for active model aircraft pilots, including drones. I had to show proof to the Redmond bicycle officers on a few occasions when flying @ 60 acres. Edmonds could consider creation of such an ordinance, and it can also include invasion of privacy rules.

    FYI – if you ever see someone learning to fly a model scale helicopter, do not walk away but RUN away as fast as you can. They are incredibly difficult to learn how to operate and things can get out of hand very quickly. Quads are much more stable and predictable.

  7. Maybe I’ve been lucky, but I have yet to have anyone object to me flying anywhere. I think this is partly due to the fact that I won’t fly anywhere if I think people might object (and will ask first if there seems like there’s a chance), and also partly due to the fact that I don’t buzz people, follow them around or do anything else that people might find obnoxious or dangerous.

    I do get a LOT of people approaching me asking how long I’ve been flying and where they can get one. That happens almost every time I fly, and happened several times on Sunday.

    • We dont allows dogs on our beaches because we are protecting our sanctuaries, yet we are allowing grown adults (also setting examples for children) to fly these noisy toys in the sky with our birds, bees, flying insects, etc. We are trying to PROTECT our environment here and elsewhere….. In my opinion (which also includes what most wildlife experts believe), these small machines are a hazard and dont belong in our sky with real wildlife, particularily with the babies birds that are right now learning to navigate. I have heard the noise from one drone up close and personal and it is not pleasant or condusive to life…..In fact it was quite scarry as I didnt know what the noise was at first outside of my studio window. I invite anybody to get up close and personal to listen to the sound and tell me it is good for the small living things in our environment…….It is a fact that we already have done damage as humans to our bee population from the noise of cell phones outside…….There are many scientists worried about our food supply because of this.

      I invite others to join me in discouraging the use of just using drones to obtain video for entertainment purposes only. This also encourages a lot of people and particlularly children to think they can fly them around our city also………Imagine just 10 of these drones flying around Edmonds regularly

      With all due respect Mr. Rumpelein, it is very easy for others (as I noted in past comment) to get up close and personal and actually peer into a window of a house…….This gives new meaning to surveillance or an easier way of people (used to be called peeping toms) to case houses before burgularies. And I am not at all implying that this is what Mr. Rumpelein is doing as it is obvious these are movies for entertainment value, but it does bring to the forefront of possibilities for the bad guys that are out there

      • What on earth are you talking about, dogs are at Bracketts landing every time I am there. No one obeys the signs.
        We live in a urban area with hundreds of thousands of people, we are as far from nature as it gets.
        Keep flying John! Love the videos

  8. There is regular liability (where one injures another and the responsibility for any injury must be proves like car accidents, frisbees and footballs ( if memory serves) and then there is “strict” liability where the probability of injury is high enough and the potential damages great enough where the responsible party (an airline, private plane operator and presumably a drone) is deemed responsible regardless. Although quads are small, I have read that the blades could do some serious injury to a person, bird or whatever should any one or thing get close to them when they are spinning. Invasion of privacy may be something that the laws will define in terms of drones, and I suspect that will catch up with the technology.

  9. Under strict liability, negligence isn’t necessary to be responsible for the damages caused. And a drone which malfunctions at any height, and fall from the sky becomes a missile quite capable of causing injury or damage, even if the operator was not negligent.

  10. Drones have clearly caught the attention of our legislators in Olympia. Here’s the Seattle Times commentary from Tuesday, March 10 looking at the differences between ESHB 1639 and HB 2016, which take very different approaches to issue of the privacy of information obtained by drones. I’m sure we’ll see lots more of this as drones become more common, and policy makers scramble to enact sensible regulations.

  11. Diane: why would a two pound plastic object be thrown into a category with passenger airplanes? If I flew my drone into your house, I might, if I was very lucky, break one of your windows. Most likely it would smash to pieces against your siding and fall to the ground.

    The privacy concerns are valid, and that does need to be hashed out. But I also think that people have a very inaccurate idea of what these things can see from the air. To be low enough to see any detail, you would hear and see the thing. If it’s way up in the air and you can’t tell if it’s watching you, you look like an ant.

    • John,

      regarding your comment to D. Talmadge: “I might, if I was very lucky, break one of your windows,”

      Do you mean to write, “I might, if I was very UNLUCKY, break one of your windows” ??

      Because if I broke one of D. Talmadge’s windows I would consider myself very unlucky — just sayin’

      • Obviously I’d feel bad about breaking anybody’s window, yes. But what I meant to say was, that’d be about the most damage I could imagine it doing to someone’s house. It’s a rather flimsy craft made out of plastic. If people are envisioning these things punching holes in their roof or something, it’s not going to happen.

  12. On the bird issue: I stay away from birds because they are unpredictable. Any incident that would seriously injure a bird would also knock my quadcopter out of the sky. Interestingly, though, ducks don’t seem to mind it. Most everything else will scatter when they see/hear it coming, in much the same way they react to a person or a dog nearby.

    If there’s a duck expert out there who could take a guess why they react differently than every other bird, I’d be most interested.

    • If there is an incident involving a protected species (an Eagle) that will become a federal issue quickly.. As to the responsible use of drones, that remains to be seen and the laws will evolve (more slowly than the technology). The folks in this video are are identifiable (if one looked closely), and you were right above them, presumably as you were taking off. As to strict liability for aircraft of all kinds, that is just the way the law evolved to accommodate that technology.
      As to smashing my windows, (and I doubt you would do anything of that sort…you seem like a reasonable fellow) if the glass were to strike someone on my lower deck, that would be a serious problem or could be. It would also be trespassing at that point, since it would be on my property without my consent.
      Much hasn’t been figured out,and the fact that there are consumer style drones opens up all kinds of possible uses (many of which we haven’t figured out yet as the technology continues to evolve.) Search and rescue operations (using volunteers as is traditionally done), determining where avalanches may be problem in ski areas, locating folks in emergency situations, there are just a host of possibilities that would be and could be terrific. It will be fun to see where it goes and how drones settle into life as we know it. (Just not my living room, please! but maybe inspecting the ubiquitous huge trees for their health would be nice!) We just don’t have our collective “heads” around this yet. But we will and they certainly aren’t evil, although a car company is currently portraying them that way in an ad.

  13. And if you feel passionate about this or other issues of interest to our lawmakers (do I hear someone saying oil trains?), do mark your calendars and show up at this weekend’s town hall meetings with our state delegations. There will be separate meetings on Saturday, March 14, for District 21 (10:30 am at Meadowdale HS with Liias, Ortiz-Self and Peterson), and District 32 (2 pm, Shoreline Fire Station, with Chase and Ryu). For more details check the announcements posted last week here in My Edmonds News. These are the folks who are working on these issues, and they need to hear what you think and what’s important to you.

  14. Diane: certainly if I deliberately harmed an eagle, that would be an issue. Many people don’t realize this but any migratory bird (that’s most of them) are protected under Federal law, so it’s illegal to harm them. Deliberately running into them with a quadcopter would be an exceptionally stupid way of doing that, but I assume the legal consequences would be the same as using a shotgun. As for a bird accidentally flying into it, I really have no control over that. If that were a frequent occurrence nobody would fly these things. They’re expensive.

    I promise you that I was not “right over” anybody. The general rule of thumb is that nobody should be within ten feet of it when it’s taking off (that includes the operator) and it’s considered poor form to get within 25′ or so of anyone else. I expect some of that will end up being codified in law at some point, but for now it’s just common sense. As I’ve said, nobody has ever complained about my flying. Not once.

    As for the people being identifiable: so what? Almost everyone at the beach had a phone capable of taking pictures; many people were taking pictures. Photography is not illegal, though of course there are some restrictions on it.

    And no, I would not fly anything into your house at all, obviously. I was making a point about the amount of damage you might expect if someone did fly one of these into your house, which is very much unlike what would happen if ANY sort of manned aircraft hit it.

  15. Have we considered if the sky was littered with drones and everyone felt they had a “right” to fly them? would we be safe and above all enjoy the peace of our skies? when you flew the drone near the train, what would have happened if it had malfunctioned? You probably think that’s impossible, but obviously accidents happen. The FAA is due to bring out new laws and there will be limits on drone use.

  16. Another comment about The White House issues with drones tonight, on the national news. There will be legislation, and of course there are people that can “block” the drones connection with its operator and the drone will come crashing down. Our National security is at risk with drone usage, and peoples privacy. One persons pleasure is not worth the consequences.

  17. Many times intent does not matter. As an owner/ operator one may not intend to do harm but should any harm happen ( like an Eagle) then the proximate cause of that harm would be flying the drone in the first place. It is reasonably foreseeable; even if it was not an intended consequence of flying the drone. As to the identifiable folks, as a photographer myself, I need to get a release from anyone I take photos of particularly if the photo will be used for commercial purposes; which I believe YouTube is.

  18. Jenny: if the drone had malfunctioned near the train, it would have ended up in the Sound (which is what I was flying over while filming). Certainly that would have been really inconvenient, but it wouldn’t have hurt the train.

    “Blocking” drones in the manner you are describing is highly illegal (FCC rules prohibit it), but as a matter of fact the particular one I fly will return to the point it took off if the signal is interrupted. This is an example of how misinformation makes people believe things that are simply not true. “National security” being at risk from… what? Flying at the beach? I don’t see how. It already is illegal to fly drones in Washington DC or over military bases. I haven’t done that and wouldn’t.

    As for posting videos to youtube being commercial use: I would really like to know how. Do you make money off your youtube videos? I sure don’t. And you know perfectly well you don’t have to get a signed release of people who happen to be in a landscape shot taken for personal use.

    • Posting videos to YouTube is not personal use nor is posting them here. That I know perfectly well. And yes, YouTube is a commercial venture ( the ads are a give away…I will leave it to you to figure out how to monetize with your videos but it is done all the time.)

    • These videos taken for My Edmonds News do not appear to be for “personal use” now as they are being published for a wide audience…..Even a street photographer is told in photography classes to get signed releases from the people who will be in the photograph for liability purposes. And I dont know the law on having children photographed, but I assume it is very strict……..The legal issues around photography that is actually published I believe is very detailed. ……and I know that street photographers have a very hard time getting signed permission from a parent on the spot for a stranger to take a picture of their children. So you see, this is a very complicated issue, and not just a simple issue of someone playing with these things, whether an adult or a child.

      Besides the environmental impact, with the thousands of missing children we now have (I work with a group trying to find and solve these cases unfolding every day, right now.) , this would appear to me to be a great new tool for some of those bad guys to clandestinly watch children and act upon what they may see…….As I mentioned before, this is very complicated and not just a simple issue……A lot comes in to play, so to speak.

  19. Mr. Rumpelein, you are under the assumption that you are the only one flying a drone and because you are a good guy it is ok………There are thousands of people and children flying these.. …..and I can tell you, it is not all the good guys. What about the perverts that dont want to be seen looking at children around schools, playgrounds,etc…..There are a thousand possibilities for their use by bad guys who can purchase them just like anybody else and use them for sinister reasons…….So perhaps one can ask the question of when we see one flying around our home, how would we know if it is a good guy or bad guy?……..flying above a playfield of children?……how would anybody know?…?..These are extremely important questions……..When one was right outside my studio windows, I did not just assume it was somebody that was a good guy…….My first question was WHY would they be right there with a camera taking pictures of me or the building

  20. Tere, you should probably call the police immediately if you see anyone with a phone near your house, as I have it on good authority that nearly all of them can be used to photograph people without their consent.

    Also, I have no idea how much money could be made running ads in my youtube videos, but I suppose I may have made entire CENTS doing that if I chose to do it, but I haven’t. I share them for free, in case people would enjoy watching them. If you don’t, please don’t watch them.

  21. Mr. Rumpelein, there is a big difference between a drone up close taking pictures and a person with a phone taking pictures…….One can easily SEE who is using a cell phone for pictures……One cannot always see WHO is operating a drone from a distance. ..and quite frankly, when thinking of all the possibilities, Mr. Rumpelein, I think the greater good should be in the conversation, rather than if you dont like it, do not watch it. …….I have not actually watched any of these videos that have been put up here, but obviously these toys can very easily be used not just to video pretty scenery from up above….Im talking about the greater good here, and I believe many important issues here outweigh anybody having the right to play with these new toys.

    I do not believe the citizens of Edmonds would even want our police to be using them around town as surveillance tools on its citizens or people that come to our town……Nationally, the record stands how citizens feel regarding the NSA right now and privacy rights

    In Seattle years ago when we flew small (and they werent really that small up close ) motorized airplanes in the sky, we flew the airplane in fields where there were no people for a long way, kept them above the field only, and those airplanes did not have cameras. We did not fly them over populated areas nor were there children flying them.

  22. You’re absolutely right there’s a difference between a drone close up taking pictures and someone with a phone taking pictures. The drone will emit a loud buzzing noise and be covered in bright lights so you can easily tell it is there.

    What I am hearing here is a bunch of speculation and frankly paranoid fantasies being used to justify (in your mind at least) making my hobby illegal. I am far more disturbed by this thought process than I am by any of the theoretical scenarios you have put forth. If you don’t want sex offenders flying them, then perhaps sex offenders shouldn’t own them. (Or cameras, or telescopes, or anything similar). I think that might actually be reasonable. But to say that I shouldn’t be able to have one because so and so might use them for this nefarious purpose? Is THAT the sort of society you want to live in, where people can abuse the mechanism of government to ban hobbies that they disagree with for whatever reason?

    I hope that the people in charge don’t listen to this kind of nonsense. This conversation started with a bold assertion that “drones are illegal”, which is not just inaccurate, but a lie. I actually go to some lengths to make sure that I’m following the law while doing this, and don’t endanger anyone. I’m not interested in flying around in a field; my interest is in photography. I won’t go fly in a field somewhere just because you think that I should. I’ll abide by the FAA rules (and do!) and hope that the people making the rules down in Olympia actually understand these things and what they are used for and by whom.

  23. How nice to think that we will have drones which “emit a load buzzing noise and are covered with bright lights” over our heads. What a pleasant thought for us all having to put up with that experience, when the skies are blue, the sun shines and then over our heads we have to put up with a hobby that the person flying it has extreme pleasure.

    • If that’s what it comes to, and it may if companies like Amazon get their way, we’ll all just have to carry baseball bats to clear them out of our space.

  24. Jenny, as I said, I have yet to have a single person complain to me about it. If you acted the least bit annoyed about it being near you, it would zip off somewhere else. Usually, as I’ve said, people approach me to ask about how hard they are to fly, where they might purchase one, and that sort of thing.

    And… baseball bats? I suppose that’s better than shotguns, but wow. There’s some serious hostility about this that is WAY out of proportion to anything that is actually going on. I blame a lot of it on the rather silly news coverage regarding drones, which is three parts speculation and one part “the dumbest things anyone has done in the entire country with them”. I’m looking forward to that particular news fad to be over with so they can go back to trying to convince us we’re all going to be eaten by sharks or something.

    • Mr. Rumpelein:
      You need to re-read my short statement; I was not talking about dealing with the current situation.

    • John,
      The news media, though hyperbolic at times, is not the cause of the hostility you are encountering with your drone. For the first time, folks are being told that consumer drones which are equipped with video cameras can be had for $2500 to $3000. Anyone can purchase and use one. The operator is remote from the device, and because the drone is in the air it can travel freely and video pretty much whatever the operator wants to. It isn’t an iPhone in someone’s hand, nor is it even a CCTV where the cameras are in the open. Trusting that the operators of such things will not pose any danger, will not be used for the wrong reasons, will not invade our privacy is not something that we can do when anyone with the money can buy and fly one. in a climate where we have technology eroding our privacy rights, the hostility you are encountering should not come as a surprise.
      The views you are showing are cool, because we have never seen them before, on a consumer level. They will become common place as the price declines and they become smaller. There are serious concerns and they should be taken seriously, rather than dismissed by being out of proportion. Is it your right to operate a flying video camera any way you deem appropriate? How does that interact with my right to privacy and safety?
      The discussion is not “out of proportion” at all. There will be regulations, but for now there aren’t many.

  25. John, I really love your sky-videos and I watch them 2 or 3 times. And what better place than Edmonds to see the land & water in such a panoramic way. The imaging and movements @ 100′ up gives us a visual-sensory treat that we could not otherwise experience. For me it’s the best feature of great art like this, that initial rush of “whoa that’s cool.”

    The negative feedback to new things is to be expected, there’s always good people concerned about the worst case. Just think of the noise that was made when Polaroids came out. But I like to see new and emerging art concepts, let the good ones rise to the top (yes pun) as that’s really what this is about. The drone itself is not that much fun to fly, for much less $$ you can have planes that require much more piloting. It’s about the visual and near-physical experience you provide the observer and that first rush, that’s ART!

    Thanks for the cool scenes and for keeping it safe, and please continue to explore this great city.

  26. This is not “new and emerging art”…… art, you can look at the “new” video art that is at most of our museums and around the world and has been for at least 10/12 years now. It is simply incredible and NEW and something you have never seen before. You can see a lot of the new video art in Art News or Art in America, MOMA, etc. and I can tell you, this is not some new art….That art cannot even be compared to this.

    Anyone can do this type of imaging by simply downloading Google Earth 6 and there wouldnt be questions of who might be using these for surveillance purposes……or other reasons.

    We have countries all over the world right now mad at our country because of our surveillance of everyone around the world and now we have citizens also actually buying these surveillance tools as toys and the possibility of our citizens spying on each other, just because they can……..lets just throw away that little thing called a constitution.

  27. Please note that ALL drones over .55 lbs MUST be registered with the FAA. The FAA does not see these things as ‘toys’ and we should consider that.
    Part 107 effective 8-29-16
    The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) now requires every drone owner to register each drone that is purchased weighing over .55lbs. If your drone is NOT registered you may be subject to the legal consequences defined in the U.S. Government drone regulation terms.

    Fill out the online Drone Registration Application in less than 5 minutes. Our agents will review your application for omissions and errors. Now that the FAA drone registration system has gone live, our experts will start your registration process and a registration certificate will be emailed to you shortly after. At that stage, you will receive a registration number to mark on each drone that will be tied directly to the owner. Throughout this process, we will communicate any further registration requirements directly with you. We are always here to help with any questions that you may have.
    While I understand that they are fun to play with right now, these could become very problematic down the road as the ‘wrong’ types of individuals get ahold of them. I for one, DO NOT want ANYONE looking at me without my knowledge nor do I like having these things buzzing around my neighborhood. I find them annoying and intrusive. In this Country we have the right to ‘Life, Liberty and the pursuit of happiness’ as long as it does not interfere with others. These drones do interfere with others. I agree with some other comments that state that there should be designated places to play with these things so that the owners can enjoy them and others will not be bothered by them.


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