“I was hovering above the backyard of the property, simply holding position to get photos of the hot tub, when I heard what sounded like a rock hitting something hard. I looked at my drone and my controller; both seemed to be fine, so I resumed operation. A moment later, I heard the sound again and it occurred to me ‘that sounds like someone is shooting at me!’ This time, I noticed the landing gear on the drone had split in two and was flapping around. I realized the drone has been shot at and proceeded to landing ASAP. Luckily, I was able to land the drone safely.” (AlteX UAV Pilot incident report)
The person that shot down the drone lives a few properties away from where our pilot was flying, so wasn’t notified of the flight as they were outside of the required safety distance. The shooter had previously been annoyed by a neighbor across the street that had flown his drone around the block. So when the shooter saw our pilot operating the drone, he mistook it for the neighbor’s and decided to teach the person a lesson. After successfully shooting down the drone, the shooter came onto the property with a baseball bat ready to smash it to pieces. That’s when the pilot told him that he had shot down the wrong drone - one that was operating legally and was nowhere near the shooter’s property.
All things considered, the incident was handled in a very civil manner from there. The shooter was extremely apologetic for shooting down the wrong drone and paid the replacement cost for a new one. As for us, the silver lining of the incident is that no one was hurt and nothing else was damaged beyond the UAV itself. But the encounter has also given us an opportunity to better understand accident/incident procedures involving a UAV.