@ Eddy ito
I am aware of those definitions.
Remind me again. Why can't an unmanned aircraft be a 'civil aircraft of the U.S.'? Really?
Also, if you continue to read the definitions you will find the term "in flight" is followed on by, and contrasted to "in service" the definition of which starts "any time from the beginning of preflight preparation of an aircraft by ground personnel or by the crew for a specific flight until 24 hours after any landing".
Clearly the intention of the law is not to enumerate the steps in a preflight checklist, but to indicate that when control of the aircraft passes from ground personnel to the pilot, the legal status of the aircraft changes from "in service" to "in flight".
The law considers boarding to be the last possible step of the preflight preparation process carried out by ground personnel. Hence upon completion of this step, an aircraft is considered 'in flight' and therefore under the 'special aircraft jurisdiction of the United States'. If the preflight preparation of a particular aircraft does not include boarding, it is a trivial matter to determine where the transition from "in service" to "in flight" takes place.
> Therefore said law doesn't apply and it's no different from the same drone sitting on the ground, a bucket or a clay pigeon.
Does the law allow you to take pot-shots at a drone sitting on the ground, a bucket or a clay pigeon?