Did some drone work for a Britt Daley video for her song, Hold On, last year.
Maybe you're a hobbyist out flying for fun. Perhaps you're a Part 107 Remote Pilot in Command on a job. You follow regulations, you're in the right airspace, the weather's great, you're doing something you love, and having a great day.
And then you hear a gunshot. Your controls stop responding, your video feed disappears, and feeling totally helpless, you watch your bird come crashing out of the sky.
What do you do now?
Something along those lines happened to me recently, and as I worked through the process I realized there weren't a lot of resources available online. The google failed me. At one point I even considered trying to contact a journalist who had written an article about drone shootdowns. There isn't a lot of information out there about what to do next, so without getting into the specifics of my situation, I wanted to post the relevant contacts.
First the disclaimer: I'm not a lawyer, and this isn't intended to be legal advice. If you need legal advice hire a lawyer. This is also a new area for everyone in the FAA, so be patient, and recognize this information here is current as of winter 2016-2017 and may change. Always fly safely and within the rules of your jurisdiction under your national aviation authority.
So here's what to do:
1. Find safety and call the police.
Somebody has a gun, and they've shot at your property, violating federal law in the process. (18 U.S.C. 32) Don't interact with the shooter directly. Go to a safe place and call 911. When the police arrive tell them what happened, and ask them to retrieve your drone, if possible. What you need to come away with is a police officer's name and ID number, and an incident number. It's very possible that the police won't be familiar with the applicable law, but it's not really your job as a pilot to start quoting law at them. Just politely request an incident number and ask for an incident report get be filed. For what it's worth, shooting down an aircraft is a federal offense, and according to the FAA, a drone is an aircraft, so a crime has been committed.
2. Contact the FAA through your local FSDO.
After you've resolved the situation with the police and left the area, you ought to contact the FAA. The way to do that is through your local Flight Standards District Office - the acronym is FSDO and the lingo is to say "fizz-doh." Here's the tricky part. If you're reading this, you're probably putting the first call about a situation like this into your local FSDO, so they might not know exactly how to handle it.
My FSDO suggested I get in contact with the FAA UAS Integration Office. That's through the contact info on the FAA UAS website. I emailed the UAS Integration office and they responded instructing me to report to my local FSDO and explaining the FSDO would then:
"work with the Law Enforcement Assistance Program of the FAA, who will be able to work with the police department and the Department of Transportation Inspector General as needed."
The Law Enforcement Assistance Program is also referred to as FAA Security according to the folks at my FSDO. Once your FSDO has routed you through to the Security Office, they'll interview you, request witness statements, and take things from there.
Document things from a safe location. Take photos of your drone if the police are able to retrieve it. Sync your flight log, and screenshot your flight map. Complete your flight log as soon as possible with as much detail as you can. Take down your gps coordinates from the flight log. Screenshot the METAR's. Document it all.
As a side note, everyone I talked to at the FSDO was friendly and trying to help out, but the FAA is a regulatory agency, and they are generally focused on regulating pilot behavior. Most of the folks I talked with deal with pilot questions and violations on a day-to-day basis, and a ground shooter taking down a drone doesn't fall inside that scope. If your local FSDO hasn't dealt with this type of issue, you might have to go through the process of emailing the UAS Integration Office and getting a reply email with instructions for the FSDO. Be patient, everyone on that side is learning how to direct traffic like this, and once you get to the Security Office, they'll take care of things.