Getting Past No


It’s been a few months since I last blogged. A lot’s happened in that time. This isn’t about that. This one’s about something that happened yesterday morning. It’s about how to get past a “No.”


A couple years ago I got into drones, quadcopters, in a tentative way. I kept crashing or losing my Parrot Bebop II drone. They were tough little guys of the “takes a lickin’ and keeps on tickin’ variety.” But I got better at it. I currently fly DJI prosumer drones including the Spark, Mavic Pro and Phantom 4 Pro. I mostly fly them for the pictures and videos they capture. Though I’m not licensed by the FAA I do follow their requirements before flying. I also research local laws before flying. I use several apps including the FAA’s B4UFly and AirMap. Both help identify where to fly legally and safely. In Texas, where I am as of this writing, the drone law requires that before I fly over private land I must obtain the permission of its owner or someone occupying it. I can fly, at a low altitude, over publicly held land. I can’t fly over certain state parks.

So it was yesterday that I set up to fly my Mavic Pro drone under a canopy of leafless trees at the intersection of Kickapoo and Cougar Roads a little south of Interstate 20. I was trying to find a place where I could fly over the Brazos River to take some photos and shoot a video or two. It’s all private land between me and the river. There’s a ton of No Tresspassing Posted signs with homes set far back from the road. So I didn’t get a chance to do much asking (to fly over) private land. So my flying was mostly limited to brief excursions like this one over public spaces.

As I was setting up a woman driving by stopped to ask what I was doing. I said I was flying my drone (it was then about 20 feet from me at a height of five feet). It was easily visible to hear; I had the drone’s camera pointed away from her, as I hadn’t had a chance, yet, to ask her permission. She self-identified as the owner of the land I was next to. When I asked if I could fly over it, she replied “No.” Then she drove off and a moment or two later I landed the drone, packed it up and moved off down the road myself.


Over the next hour or so I left a phone message or sent an email to the owner or manager of ranches I passed. Some of them have signs at their entrances. I’d google them and some had websites where there was a phone number or email address listed. I figure that maybe next time I pass through the area I can fly over the land of them that provide their permission.

On the outskirts of Glen Rose, Texas I passed some metal statues of two horses being chased by a cowboy on a third. When I pass cool stuff on a highway Like that the thought, “I may never pass this way again. Is it worth it to..” This time it was. I turned back and sought to find a way to contact someone occupying or owning the land. In this particular case there wasn’t a “No Tresspassing Posted” sign at the entrance to the land. I parked at the edge of a gravel road and walked the 100 yards or so to the residence. A moment after knocking on the door a young man answered. I asked and he said “Yes.” I found out a little later that his name is Trevor Crawford and that I was at the C4 Ranch. I thanked him, walked back to my car and drove back to the horse art. I spent the next 20 minutes flying over the metal artwork and taking some stills and shooting brief clips with my Mavic Pro.

As I was packing to leave Trevor drove by in this big truck (that I wish I had because my Honda CrV is low to the ground and there’s many places I can’t go) with high clearance. He asked if I’d be so kind as to send him links to the photos and videos I was taken. I asked for and received permission to take his photograph. I said I’d gladly send links. He then told me about some “little cattle” on land of his nearby. Next time..


I think it’s natural to get discouraged when someone tells you “No.” The thing is that to get what one wants from someone else asking is something you have to do. Keep asking. Be assured a yes is out there with your name on it.