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 Aaron Bliesner on September 29, 2011 at 3:03pm

I love the "Darwin Award" comment.

I'm worried about my hobby, but I can't imagine how subscribers to Islam and others with roots in the middle east must feel every time a whack job does something like this.  

Comment by Daniel Hibben on September 29, 2011 at 3:08pm

the AMA has just released a response to this incident here is the link

Comment by Daniel Hibben on September 29, 2011 at 3:10pm

ah i see some one beat me to it with the link, oh well

i am so mad bout this i am not processing clearly

apparently the FBI is who gave him the planes according to the BBC

Comment by Daniel Hibben on September 29, 2011 at 3:19pm

this is the type of thing i have been worried about for some time now a few weeks ago i was at the website for the youtube show FLIGHT TEST they do all sorts of silly but mostly cool projects with rc planes and FPV i was rather upset when i saw the bit they did called FPV BOMB DROP here is the link you can judge and see if you think it was the right type of thing to do i am still not too sure it was a good idea especially after today's little bit of news

have a look and see what you all think of it. it reminded me of video of the first gulf war.

3D Robotics
Comment by Chris Anderson on September 29, 2011 at 4:42pm

Update from the Associated Press. Good, sensible stuff from a congressman at the bottom:


"Counterterrorism experts and model-aircraft hobbyists said it would be nearly impossible to inflict large-scale damage of the sort Ferdaus allegedly envisioned using model planes. The aircraft are too small, can't carry enough explosives and are too tricky to fly, they said.

"The idea of pushing a button and this thing diving into the Pentagon is kind of a joke, actually," said Greg Hahn, technical director of the Academy of Model Aeronautics.

Rick Nelson, a former Navy helicopter pilot who is now a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said Ferdaus would have had to hit a window or other vulnerable area to maximize damage, and that would have taken precision flying.

"Flying a remote-controlled plane isn't as easy as it actually looks, and then to put an explosive on it and have that explosive detonate at the time and place that you want it add to the difficulty of actually doing it," he said.

Ferdaus, a Muslim American from Ashland, was arrested after federal agents posing as al-Qaida members delivered what he believed was 24 pounds of C-4 explosive, authorities said. He was charged with attempting to damage or destroy a federal building with explosives. A federal affidavit claims he began planning "jihad" against the U.S. in early 2010 after becoming convinced through jihadi websites and videos that America was evil.

Ferdaus had a physics degree from Northeastern University and enjoyed "taking stuff apart" and "learning on my own," according to court papers.

The model planes Ferdaus eyed were the F-4 Phantom and the F-86 Sabre, small-scale versions of military jets, investigators said. The F-4 is the more expensive of the two, at up to $20,000, Hahn said. The F-86, one of which Ferdaus actually obtained, costs $6,000 to $10,000 new.

Ferdaus' plan, as alleged in court papers, was to launch three such planes from a park near the Pentagon and Capitol and use GPS to direct them toward the buildings, where they would detonate on impact and blow the Capitol dome to "smithereens." He planned to pack five pounds of plastic explosives on each plane, according to prosecutors.

James Crippin, an explosives and anti-terrorism expert, said that much C-4 could do serious damage — a half-pound will obliterate a car. But he said getting a stable explosive like C-4 to blow up at the right time would have been hugely difficult.

And there were slim prospects of causing any serious damage to buildings like the Pentagon and Capitol, which are undoubtedly hardened to withstand explosions, according to Crippin, director of the Western Forensic Law Enforcement Training Center.

"Basically, I think he's suffering from delusions of grandeur," he said.

Hahn said the heavier of the two models Ferdaus was allegedly planning to use could carry a maximum of two pounds of plastic explosive before malfunctioning. That's not including the weight of any GPS system, he added.

"It's almost impossible for him to get this done," he said.

Remote-controlled aircraft have been considered by terrorists before. In 2008, Christopher Paul of Worthington, Ohio, a Columbus suburb, pleaded guilty to plotting terrorist attacks in the U.S. and Europe using explosive devices. Prosecutors said he researched remote-controlled boats and a remote-controlled 5-foot-long helicopter.

And after Sept. 11, federal agents asked the Academy of Model Aeronautics' 143,000 members to watch for any fellow enthusiasts who might be buying planes with bad intentions.

Well before the Massachusetts arrest, police in Montgomery County, Md., put out a terrorist warning to hobby shops

Comment by Wingman4l7 on September 29, 2011 at 6:18pm

Comment by Brian on September 29, 2011 at 7:02pm

At risk of sounding like one of the old timers in the AMA, I personally don't think it's too much to ask of the community, our community to be watchful and report suspicious/extreme behaviors exhibited by seemingly fellow enthusiasts.   That doesn't just go for our hobby here, it's other fun stuff too.  I like shooting guns, you can bet your buns that I'd report someone who exhibited extreme viewpoints followed by alarming actions, especially if they had a lot of firepower. 


Not all terrorists are folks from "other places", it's been proven that the folks down the road can be domestic terrorists so a little vigilance seems to be in order.  I think that an organized campaign of education and watchfulness can only help our hobby.  Like it or not, we must show folks that we are adults, enjoying a hobby that we intend to keep around and that we will not tolerate  our hobby being used for hate-mongering. 

Comment by Rory Paul on September 29, 2011 at 8:27pm

Just what we needed more reason for paranoia. I remember being lectured back in 2005 on visiting a Missouri model shop that al-Qaida was planning to use rc planes to attack America and that as an obvious foreigner I had no business inquiring about motors for giant scale planes (true story). So tomorrow when I fly my quad in the park I suspect that the Sheriff will swing around to give me the equivalent of a MRI......

Comment by Brent on September 29, 2011 at 8:51pm

Remember this is the same bunch that brought you "Project Gunrunner". So easy to whip up some fanatic on the internet then plant seeds in his twisted mind, " we can even get you a plane and some weapons for it" then take credit for the arrest while pointing out the threat to media.

Comment by Richard Unwin on September 29, 2011 at 9:50pm

I was going to make a comment, but am now worried they might be tracking our activities 


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