From the SUAS Feed

BEND — It cost a Bend teenager about $800 in revenue from chores, yard work and birthday gifts to buy a miniature aircraft and a camera he sent aloft to capture video of a forest fire this summer that was threatening the western edge of the city.

The images were a YouTube hit, but they were also a source of worry for fire bosses concerned about the possibility that drones could interfere with firefighting and possibly bring down a big aircraft.

Morgan Tien, 14, told The Bulletin newspaper of Bend that he had read federal guidelines on when and where he could fly his DJI Phantom, a small quadcopter he fitted with a GoPro camera.

Tien’s not in trouble for the flight, which went up from his patio on June 7, followed by a second flight the next day. They didn’t get into restricted air space.

But federal authorities cited the flights, along with others this summer in Washington state and California. They called them an “emerging hazard.”

Drones may be a problem for firefighters if the drones fly into restricted airspace over and near a wildfire, where air tankers and helicopters could be in the air, said Mike Ferris, a spokesman in Portland for the U.S. Forest Service.

Full article here: Bend Boy

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  • 100KM

    I would emphasise caution with your assumption Marc. It is not the operators responsibility to prove the negative that they weren't in restricted airspace (this is the fundamental principal behind the entire western justice system). The burden is on the authorities to prove that they did violate a TFR.

    I get frustrated by the tone of many posts assuming wrongdoing just because it is a DJI product. This article is using Morgan as an example of someone flying around fires without doing anything wrong and telling that story alongside an vaguely connected grumble by various"Federal Authorities".

  • With the exception of age, the same can be said of elected office, Jesse

  • When you make a product available for anyone, at any age, and any IQ level and any skill level, you're going to have all sorts of things go wrong.

  • I don't think it is unreasonable for authorities to suggest that drones are potentially and emerging hazard. This is not the first time a civilian has been in the news for flying above a brushfire or in an area where firies are actively engaged in fighting a fire, and it will not be the last. A similar situation a while back here in Australia prompted a public response from the Civil Aviation Safety Authority.
  • Admin


    I wondered about how close he was too to be able to get video of the fire.

    As you have speculated, he may have been within restricted airspace at the point he captured the video.



  • I'm missing something here.  How does the newspaper reporter know that "they didn’t get into restricted air space"?  If there are aircraft already present at a forest fire, it is pretty safe to assume that they have established a TFR with a radius of at least 5nm (and sometimes much larger), from ground level to an altitude 3000 ft AGL or more.  For licensed pilots, that's a pretty clear message to stay at least that far away.  How close did he get?

  • Admin

    To me this is Buy & Fly with no idea of the consequences of what he is doing in relation to firefighting aircraft in the area of a fire.



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