A True Atrocity

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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  • T3

    They supplied him weapons, maybe even advised to use stupid plane...

    If you are really motivated to demonstrate security issue, it can be done.

    This reminds me:


    This opens a completely new book full of opportunities for ambitious yet somehow less fortunate or isolated researchers without a chance for major financial success anyway, if they align a little with Islamic Way of Living. Some people do things that are challenging just because they are challenging.

  • Why you guys so "vigilante" like.. You all know we all can strap a honey spoon to a plane and kill!! ..whos to blame? ama, spoon mfg? honey company? Jeez..get all ur crap together and keep doing what yall do best.


  • oh lovely more negative press, like we aren't vigilant already after this.

    it would be mean and cynical of me to say that i think that the AMA likes this so that they can show how cautious they are and how dangerous everyone that's not AMA is. but since i am not that cynical i wont

  • I just received this from the AMA:



  • Developer


  • i agree totally with you about that Mark the FBI did good to stop this guy.

    i suppose it was more the press sensationalizing it that caused my reaction, i dont like that the FBI provided everything he needed. but i don't know how smart this guy was, maybe he could have built an aircraft if he wanted, and the FBI was right to give him the planes as well to control the situation, i don't know. he defiantly would have had trouble getting explosives of the type he wanted, and we in this field know that it would be really hard if not imposable to do what he intended with them

    i just wish that they could have found a way to take this guy out, with out making people think that our aircraft and hobby are easily capable of doing this sort of thing. there are enough people out there that don't like our hobby at all and this doesn't help 

    a short story: i was flying this last summer up at a local park. i was flying a small umx beast from horizon hobby it is about 18'' wing span i had just landed when this guy comes purposfully over to me and the guys i was talking to and starts yelling at us how these things should be banned and how people are flying planes into buildings and calling me every name he could think of while these two other guys i was talking to just staired at him in amazement. he was in his 60's and seemed to think the park was his. he actualy called the cops on me (they neve did show up) he thought that this little foam plane could be dangerous in a way only a much larger aircraft could, he would not listen to me, he wouldn't even let me talk, he just yelled until someone he was with came and got him. he used there phone to call the cops. this was the most unpleasant experience i have ever had in this hobby and thankfully  i have not seen this guy since, although i do try to fly when the park is empty

    i try to be as good an ambassador of our hobby as i can, yet i seem to talk to people all the time that have this negative view of what we do and i hate it. i love talking to people about the cool aspects of designing and building an aircraft and i treasurer these people when i meet them.

    i just wish this guy could have been stopped without the negative press. but i thank god he was stopped before it went to a point that made us look even worse. so yes kudos to the FBI and we all need to watch for this type of thing it would look much better if we in the hobby had spotted this guy and turned him in that would bethe kind of good press that we need.

  • Developer

    The FBI has profiles for these folks, it may identify a waco or two, but the important thing today is that the "noob" needed real support, I  thank God he found it with the undercover al Qeda agents, Kudos  FBI !!. When a well financed proficient "noob" starts down this path without outside support how will he be detected and stopped? We as a community need to keep our eyes and ears open and read between the lines. When you do suspect something is not right make the call !!


  • i am not saying that i think any one of the people i have talked to that ask how hard it would be to put a weapon on a multi copter could do so, i am just worried that they might do anything at all to hurt others if they got the chance. none of the people i talk to about UAV's or UAS"s that ask such questions, or for that mater the people that ask good questions, have the means or ability to build and fly them but that does not mean to say that they can not pick up a knife and go crazy we had a guy do that on a bus up here a few years back and took the bus over the edge of the Aurora street bridge into an apartment building. what i think needs to be focused on is not the means they employed to do harm, but on the reason that they decided to go out and do harm in the first place.

    so instead of banning knifes on city buses lets find a way to keep them from wanting to do so in the first place then you don't have to worry about banning everything that can be used as a weapon

    BTW cool pen Gary

  • Moderator

    UAS are here to stay, people have been horrid to each other since forever.

    If you are flying a UAS try your best to adhere to the best safety standards and pass that knowledge on.


    The atrocity in my mind is that there seems to be a lack of imagination and wonder in the modern world.


    @Paul having the communicator pen would have been cooler, and how easy would that be these days!






  • Moderator

    If we did live in a world where terrorists were as poor at math as to consider a small UAV a viable platform for either explosives or a gun, then perhaps it would be a better place. I shoot regularly. I understand firearms. I would quite happily square off against a gun-equipped quadcopter, or take my chances with the idiot who tries to pack a couple of pounds of anything into an RC plane and considers himself any kind of threat to the Pentagon.


    Maybe in a decade these will be "legitimate fears and concerns", but right now they are only the overactive imaginations of people who have too limited experience with the physics of small aircraft, the defensive capabilities of the Pentagon against modest sized aircraft (in a post 2001 world) or too little understanding of the threat posed by an unstable, vibrating small arms platform or a two pound payload (outside of "dirty bomb" or fissionable material, neither of which is substantially benefited with a UAV delivery system to begin with, and would only make it a less reliable weapon.) 


    As for the RC community, it is already difficult for new hobbyists to get involved, especially in urban areas. Local AMA clubs require as much as $200/yr in AMA and local club dues, place annual caps on membership, and require extensive "student training" before a member can fly without an instructor pilot. In my area, available fields are either too close to one or more of the local airports, have rules against the use of RC aircraft, have local ordinances or home owners rules banning RC aircraft, previously kicked the AMA club out of their field due to noise complaints, are the aforementioned selective and closely AMA clubs, who also require new member commitments to perform road and field maintenance, or are simply too far away (over one hour) to attract new casual hobbyists. 


    Be careful what you ask for in any form of regulation, self-imposed or otherwise. 


    If there is a serious threat here, I suspect it is the risk of a small UAV being used, accidentally or intentionally, colliding with a larger, manned aircraft. We have rules in place to address this risk, and more rules coming. No rules we put into place will ever be followed by terrorists or criminals, so it is accidents that these will hope to address. And I suspect this risk is no greater than the risk of any large bird, most of which are about the same or larger mass range and movement speed of the class of UAVs which 99.9% of us operate. 


    Let's not fool ourselves. SUAS are not a legitimate threat to the general public. There is a very remote possibility of an individual injury, and that is far more likely to happen to the operator than anyone else. The intentional use of hobby-built SUASs as destructive devices is misguided, inefficient, expensive, requires extensive and time consuming testing, and I have yet to find any scenario that is even remotely "destructive." 


    The technologies which terrorists are likely to find attractive are the GPS chips, the accelerometers, the gyros, these things which are ubiquitous in our toys, cell phones, cars, navigation systems, and are by no means exclusive to UAVs, and also all the traditional weapons and delivery systems, from pedestrians to automobiles to missiles, and everything in between.


    I don't buy it. Not this decade. And it would be a very sorry thing to see the benefits which can come from UAVs, in agro support, in emergency rescue, police work, aerial photography, videography, building inspections, and so many other areas never get realized because of irrational, unfounded, impractical fears. 

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