Man charged in plot to bomb Pentagon with model airplane

It looks to me that the sad day we all knew would eventually come has arrived. The first person that I have heard of plotting to use R/C planes to bomb the Pentagon and the Capital building. It appears he was planning to use some kind of autopilot given that they stated the plane was to be "GPS guided". Below is a link to the CNN page that has the details. I only hope this doesn't lead to a complete lock down of the R/C and sUAS industry. It is so young and ripe for growth and innovation.

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Comment by Ryan on September 29, 2011 at 3:48am

Yeah, pull out your rubberband airplanes LOL

Comment by Kirill on September 29, 2011 at 4:00am

There was a report about it in morning news...

Comment by John Arne Birkeland on September 29, 2011 at 4:11am

If you read some slightly less speculative news sources there are bits of information available that I find really interesting. By favorite is this one from BBC. Rezwan Ferdaus held over Pentagon and Capitol bomb plot

Also during 2011, Mr Ferdaus began speaking to the agents about his desire to organise an attack on the Pentagon, home of the US military, and the Capitol building in Washington DC, seat of the US Congress.

Posing as accomplices, they then supplied him with C-4 explosives, a remote-controlled plane and arms.

That would explain the weird choice of air frames (looks impressive but are VERY hard to fly and not to mention impractical because of the low payload capacity). If we allow for some speculations and read between the lines, I think we can assume this person has little or no experience with R/C airplanes.


Comment by Robert Krogh (hooks) on September 29, 2011 at 5:02am

Good spin! to have our hobby illegal for sure... 

Comment by Trent at MyGeekShow on September 29, 2011 at 6:41am

Really sad news... We have a great hobby, but like all technologies, they can be abused. But that's what this: an abuse of something totally innocent. Even the explosives were designed for something innocent: civil engineering like building roads and bridges. In the end, its not the technologies fault, it's those who act irrationally and out of hate.

Comment by Tommy Neubauer on September 29, 2011 at 6:44am

@trent at MyGeekShow: I couldnt agree with you more. We can all only hope that there wasnt a political agenda aimed at destroying our great hobby. 

Comment by Brad Hughey on September 29, 2011 at 7:05am

Everyone please remember that our government is controlled by politicians, and is therefore rather...political.  There have long been car bombs, but no one has suggesting banning automobiles, because most registered voters are also drivers.  Alas, I detest painting enthusiasts with a broad brush, but we ARE a "special" interest group.  Well motivated (and funded) special interest groups often get their way against mainstream fear, otherwise the law-makers bend with the popular winds.  It would be in our mutual long-term interests to find or create an advocacy group and join with generous donations, letting the administrators know what our priorities are.  I think I shall stop there, lest I run afoul of the non-political clause in the DIYDrones ToS.

Comment by S.G. Sutter on September 29, 2011 at 7:33am

I saw this when it was breaking news and thought "uh-oh."  Didn't take very long to have the dark side of this open source industry make headlines, nor will it be the last time something like this happens.


The worst thing this community could do (IMHO) would be to "circle the wagons."  Instead (again IMHO) we should be as open and transparent as possible, showing people all the good things this technology can do.  To my knowledge this is what DIYD been doing since the start, and I think it's the best policy to have.

3D Robotics
Comment by Chris Anderson on September 29, 2011 at 7:39am

Fast Company has an article on this, mentioning discussion here:

"Users on the diydrones website, which is dedicated to the growing amateur drone/unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) community, are pissed. Forum posts calling Ferdaus a “noob” are among the milder responses; other users note the poor choice of what are essentially high-priced model aircraft for war nerds to pull off a terrorist attack. One user, astutely, notes that a successful takeoff for the planes would require a substantial dedicated runway and plenty of practice to avoid the explosives detonating on the ground. Basically, Ferdaus was “a Darwin Award nominee” waiting to happen.

Model aircraft and drones are exceedingly poorly suited to lone wolf terrorist attacks. Despite the use of drones by the US military for targeted strikes and assassinations, operation of these types of unmanned aircraft require access to resources and training generally available only to domestic and foreign military forces. In other words, if you don't have North Korea or Pakistan training you and supplying AGM-114 Hellfire missiles, fuggedaboutit. The many drones easily available to the civilian market are good only for surveillance and aerial monitoring.

However, Ferdaus's plot could have conceivably worked had he not been fixated on disaster-from-the-sky dreams. Ferdaus' homegrown mobile phone detonators appear to have been effective and his FBI-supplied explosives cache could have helped build a considerable car or truck bomb. According to the federal affidavit, Ferdaus appears to have been obsessed with the idea of using remote-controlled aircraft for the attack.

A close look at the same document, however, reveals that Ferdaus obtained most of the non-explosive equipment to build a bomb from a number of trips to Toys R Us and, presumably, a large megastore such as Wal-Mart or Target. That's the ultimate, disturbing takeaway from this: Explosives are relatively easy to obtain for any civilian with a reasonable cover story, oodles of cash and a brain not addled by kooky conspiracy theory-and-religion mashups.

Bombs with detonators and timers are relatively easy for anyone with a scientific or engineering background--such as Ferdaus--to construct. The barrier to a successful American terror attack isn't bomb construction: it's the fact that most wannabe terrorist attacks fall for Federal sting operations hook, line, and sinker."

Comment by Scott Plunkett on September 29, 2011 at 7:39am

Truly sad that this kind of negative press is heaped upon our hobby.  The really "funny" thing is...that is a hard plane to fly, and if this guy had no experience and tried to fly it, it would have likely ended up a pile of rubble before he could have targeted anything.


@Brad - You know the AMA likes to think they are an advocate for our hobby, but the sad truth is they don't represent the entire community, just those that fit into their tiny box of expectations.  So if you have a group in mind, please share...I fear creating / funding a new group may prove prohibitively expensive.


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