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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  • I think the authorities got it right, but the media coverage will kill the hobby.

  • Sounds like another overreaction from "The Authorities"

  • Ben... What would it matter if he knew or not wether he was in restricted airspace? It's his responsibility to find out before flying his drone. Obviously with a large scale fire like this there will be low flying fire fighting aircraft in the vicinity. If one went down the drone pilot would hold sole responsibility for gross neglegence.
  • My copter would have burned, as I seldom fly above the trees to keep from falling asleep.  I'm not an aviator, but I can see how a regular pilot might not want this kind of thing in the air.  As unpredictable as my APM craft is, I'd rather have the phantom(not a fan) filming me, than my copter though.  Being distracted while flying any aircraft is dangerous.

  • Once regulations are established and enacted it will become a federal offense with heavy penalties if these regulations are violated. That will be the legal avenue the authorities will take. And it's what is needed to stop people from threatening full scale aircraft and people on the ground. Doesn't matter which multirotor but the phantom is being targeted because it's the most dominant rtf quad out there that a 5 year old can fly without any experience. Personally I hope they ban all multirotors and inflict heavy penalties on anyone not flying at a designated ama flying field.
  • 100KM

    Marc, I wasn't suggesting this was a court case only that you were perhaps being harsh by immediately assuming he had violated a TFR (or at least hinting at this) with no evidence at all.

  • The authorities are aware of his actions, and have chosen not to do anything, meaning that boy did not violate airspace, etc.

    It's not clear that he didn't violate airspace, they just chose to do nothing but warn him, as I would expect under the circumstances.  Note that he said he would do it again, and still apparently has no clue as to what a TFR is for, or how to determine whether he is flying inside of one.  The belief that all you have to do is stay below 400 or 500 feet and stay away from airports, is simply not enough to prevent a serious accident.  Someone is going to get badly hurt or killed eventually, and none of us are going to like the consequences of that...

  • Ben, I'm sorry, your comment is misguided and wrong.  The kid is not under arrest, he is not being taken to court, there is no indication that there will be any direct direct consequences for his flights.  This was simply an attempt to educate and warn people not to do stuff like this, for good reason. By his own words, it's clear he had no idea what kinds of airspace restrictions are present around forest fires.  Multiply this ignorance by tens or even hundreds of thousands, and perhaps even you can begin to see the problem.

    There are large TFRs (Temporary Flight Restrictions) established around aerial fire fighting activities, because there are usually multiple aircraft, both large and small, some flying at high speeds (you know they use DC-10s and 747s as water bombers, now?) and low altitudes, under close radio coordination, focused on fighting a fire. They are NOT focused on dodging aerial spectators, whether in the form of a news helicopter or the latest DJI toys.  You may think there is no danger, but what you think is, in this case, meaningless.  Getting hit by a DJI in the right spot while one is flying at 200 knots, or even being momentarily distracted by one, is enough to put an aircraft into the trees.

    Those of us who are licensed to fly in US airspace (and elsewhere) are subject to regulations, and are periodically tested to make sure we continue to understand those regulations.  Like it or not, if you want to fly your multicopter outdoors, you will eventually have to do the same, as clearly self-regulation is not going to work...

  • and that Anderw is why there a lot of vetting that goes into people who get elected to offices but any idiot can buy a drone.

  • My father was a forest office so I know what type of activity occurs around a fire. I can easily see how drones could become a hazard. You notice they only cited this as a potential hazard and the boy isn't in trouble. I'm sure someone will get too close and become a hazard it will only be a matter of time.

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