Author Spotlight: Carol A. Fichtelman, Esq.

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Today we are featuring a guest post by Carol A. Fichtelman, author of the best-selling title Drones: A Legal Research Guide.

About the Author


Carol A. Fichtelman, Esq.


Ms. Fichtelman is a lawyer and writer who currently lives in St. Louis, Missouri. She’s practiced law since the 1980s as a public interest attorney specializing in government benefits and finding lost pensions for low-income and elderly clients. Fichtelman has authored a total of four legal research guides for Hein, Prisoner’s Rights, Right to be Forgotten, Drones, and Campaign Finance Law.

About Drones: A Legal Research Guide


Fichtelman remarks, “this Legal Research Guide topic came about through the suggestion of Hein Editor Sheila Jarrett. Despite this subject matter being very au courant, drones or unmanned aircraft (UA), also known as unmanned air vehicles (UAVs), have existed since at least 1849 when an unmanned aerial hot-air balloon filled with explosives was used by the Austrian government to attack Venice, Italy. The history of unmanned aircraft vehicles, defined as an aircraft without a human pilot aboard (see page one of the LRG), is delved into in the Introduction/Overview. However, though there is no human pilot aboard the aircraft, there is a ground-based controller or operator and a system of communications established between the controller and the drone in order to operate the drone.

Thus, it appears that drones have been utilized for military purposes for quite some time. In addition to these military uses, unmanned aerial vehicles have many other uses or purposes—some benign, some not. This reference resource sets forth the many uses of unmanned aerial vehicles and the local, state, and federal laws, rules, and administrative agencies governing drone usage. Other than military usage, other ways unmanned aircraft are used include:

  • Consumer or commercial purposes such as the delivery of goods
  • Police departments’ surveillance purposes or tracking of criminal activity
  • State and local government agencies’ providing disaster relief and fighting wildfires
  • Private citizen’s use for pleasure purposes or as a hobby
  • Crop dusting by farmers or for inspecting their land

Drones: A Legal Research Guide covers all aspects of unmanned aircraft vehicle usage. The issues discussed in this Legal Research Guide on drones include:

  • Registration and Certification of Drones
  • Altitude and Airspace Restrictions of Drones
  • Preemption by State on Local Government Usage and Regulation of Drones
  • Surveillance by Law Enforcement Using Drones
  • Surveillance by Private Citizens Using Drones
  • Hunting, Gaming, and Wildlife Restrictions on Drone Usage
  • Legality of Drone Usage for Surveillance of Private Citizens
  • Military Uses of Drones for Airstrikes or Assassination Purposes

This legal research guide is designed and written for all operators and users of unmanned aircraft vehicles from the hobbyist to commercial operators, government officials, law enforcement officers, and those seeking information on the certification, legal use, and operation of drones within the United States.

An example of the importance of this legal research guide is its detailed discussion and listing of the federal and state agencies involved in the registration and certification of drones. For example, the guide lists the three main U.S. agencies responsible for overseeing and regulating drones:

  1. U.S. Department of Transportation has agencies and programs concerning drones, such as the Federal Aviation Administration and its Unmanned Aircraft Systems webpages, wherein each type of drone user has its own webpages, including:
    1. Recreational Fliers & Community-Based Organizations
    2. Certificated Remote Pilots Including Commercial Operators
    3. Public Safety & Government Operators/Users/Enforcers
    4. Educational Users
  2. U.S. Department of the Interior has a variety of offices and bureaus dealing with drones and the usage of drones in and over federal lands. Some of these subagencies are:
    1. Office of Aviation Services-Unmanned Aircraft System
    2. National Park Services
    3. Fish & Wildlife Service
    4. U.S. Geological Survey
  3. U.S. Department of Defense, the Chief Management Officer is responsible for the National Defense Strategy, which includes the use of unmanned aircraft systems in military operations, plus playing a role in intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance. Also, the U.S. Air Force and its remotely piloted aircraft (RPA) program is detailed along with resources on its drone usage.

This book is a complete guide to drones. In addition to referencing applicable federal, state, and local laws and regulations, agencies, and some case law, secondary resources regarding drones are plentiful. From organizations and blog websites, such as DroneGuru or Know Before You Fly, to books, newspaper, and magazine articles, are; all the legal reference resources one could want.”


Drones: A Legal Research Guide
Legal Research Guides Series, Volume 79
Item #: 1006624
ISBN: 978-0-8377-4116-1
Pages: xviii, 55p. (74p. total)
1 Volume……$85.00
Published: Getzville; William S. Hein & Co., Inc.; 2019

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