The hypotheses were correct. Drones were indeed one of the “most given gifts” this holiday season, and it’s highly likely we will continue to see their proliferation…in news stories…in retail sales reports…and on YouTube.
As a drone owner before they had quite made their way to the radar, I’m excited for this. There is so much potential both informative and super fun that lay ahead and if nothing else, I’m a curious explorer. 2015 for me was a year of self exploration, much of which led me to pursue seeing things from a new perspective and exploring things I had previously not thought of exploring. Buying a drone, for me, was about such an exploration – seeing the world around me, many times spots I was very familiar with, but from an entirely new perspective. Elevating my point of view, if you will…
When I purchased my drone in Summer 2015, the first day I flew it I did so irresponsibly and without the proper education and training – on only my second flight I tried to fly at night and crashed it in to the roof of a neighboring building. I took accountability, I paid a financial penance, and I learned.
I trained myself on flight control, developed my own pre-flight check list, downloaded aps that monitored solar radiation, and practiced flying in precarious but probable urban situations one might encounter, but well away from risk of harming others. I was on the news. I woke up early in the morning to practice.
I spent plenty of time talking to various passers-by who were curious, who thought I’d spy on them peeing in their bathrooms, or wondered why someone would want such a device. I explained…
“Imagine seeing everything around you but like you’ve never seen it before. Imagine having a glimpse of what it must look like from the eye of God.”
And sometimes I would break in to a rendition of “From a Distance” channeling my best Bette Midler.
And I still made mistakes. I should not have flown my drone on the day that video was shot, but am proud that I had the requisite skills necessary to fly without line of site and based on gauges only to bring my drone safely back home.
On New Years, I could have easily flown my drone from my home to the Space Needle and been right up on the grill of the lackluster fireworks. Instead, I flew my drone from a couple of miles away to capture video, which is not nearly as impressive as this:
This video, shot by Jos Stiglingh (his YouTube has now been taken down), is the result of a federal crime which endangered lives. He violated restricted air-space, flew at over 4x the FAA restrictions on UAS, and for any number of reasons from the velocity his drone would have achieved when colliding with the barges to the toxicity of the lithium in the batteries, endangered human life.
The comments on this video are resoundingly positive, indicating in a lot of cases things similar to “this is what new drone owners should aspire to achieving in 2016.” Bullshit.
While this video has 12.8M views, and hundreds of thousands of likes, people should not misunderstand: this is no different than flying over the White House lawn or buzzing the President’s motorcade, no different than interfering with emergency response aircraft in the case of wildfires or other natural disasters…
This is no different than me taking off next to an airport and hovering over a runway in hopes of getting great footage of airplanes landing.
For those in Seattle like me, no different than crashing your drone in to the side of the Seattle Wheel and then hit-and-running it.
It’s no different than doing any of the other douche-bag idiot things many have feared as drones have become prolific.
This person should/would be charged with violation of FAA regulations, charged with misdemeanor or felony for endangering human lives, and everyone liking this should try their hardest to see the connection…if you can’t already.
No one should endorse this type of behavior or increase its virality.
And we should all act more responsibly.
Here are some resources for you if you’d like to learn more about responsible UAS operation:
- http://www.faa.gov/uas/ – including how to register yourself
- http://tfr.faa.gov/tfr2/list.html – current list of NOTAMS (or Notice to Airmen) which cover current and temporary flight restrictions
- https://www.facebook.com/groups/tomstechtime/ – while focused on the DJI family of drones, a lot of helpful tips and suggestions
- Solar Activity Monitor – you don’t want to fly during strong electromagnetic radiation or during times of solar flare. It can interrupt GPS and compass-based navigation
- Some videos that show the potential: