Tourist reportedly crashes drone into Yellowstone National Park's largest hot spring

Irresponsible sUAS flying, as demonstrated in this news article, is going to give the sUAS hobby another black eye and help to keep the general public wondering why they should support the sUAS hobbyists in their efforts to obtain reasonable regulation from the FAA.


Authorities at Yellowstone National Park are investigating reports that a tourist crashed a drone into the Grand Prismatic Spring, the park's largest hot spring, on Saturday.

The tourist approached a park employee about getting the drone back after losing it in the almost 200-feet deep hot spring. The employee let the tourist go without initially reporting the incident to authorities.

"I don't think the person who they spoke with realized that drones couldn't be flown in the park or the implications of what they were being told," Amy Bartlett, spokesperson for Yellowstone National Park, told CNN.

Drones are banned in national parks. The National Park Service announced in June that it was prohibiting unmanned aircraft from all park service-controlled lands and waters, totaling about 84 million acres throughout the country.

Full story here: Drone crash

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Comment by Gary McCray on August 7, 2014 at 3:10pm

Hi Thomas,

CNNs video about this actually had some balance along with the hyperbola.

But the fact is now that the media, the public and the politicians have zeroed in on the newly minted icon of "Drone" every little event gets blown into a preposterously disproportionate calamity.

The reality here is we are almost certainly talking about a Phantom in that 200 foot deep pool with thousands of gallons of steaming water an hour entering it and the Phantoms potential for damage is pretty much zero.

So it is yet another high visibility molehill being made into a nonsensically large mountain.

If the guy is caught he should be treated pretty much the same way as any tourist who threough their old sandwich wrapper into the pool, no more, no less.

Chances are he had no idea he was even doing anything wrong in the first place.

We really need to take some responsibility for letting the general newbe public know what is a reasonable way to use and not abuse these things.

Best Regards,


Comment by peter jensen on August 7, 2014 at 3:15pm

As drone use increases we can probably expect to see more of these high profile accidents in such places as national.  

They have been used at public events like outdoor rock concerts for high POV shots and it's just a matter of time before they are used close up at eye level because they offer a greatly enhanced Steadicam type of capability and can sweep around the performers and the audience - this is already being done in some music videos in fact.

These shots are far more dynamic than the older tools such as technocranes, they are shots that film makers could only dream of before the drone technology became available.

Although the professional pilots may be able to avoid serious accidents initially there is no doubt that this low altitude close  POV's will quickly be adopted by the non-professionals with a high probability of bad accidents involving people.

Comment by Edgar Scott on August 7, 2014 at 4:52pm

Gary, yeah, I just watched the video CNN did and actually they did a nice job

you can watch it here

Comment by Darrell Burkey on August 7, 2014 at 5:41pm

As far as I'm concerned, the more Phantoms we boil the better. :-)

Comment by Gary McCray on August 7, 2014 at 5:45pm

@ Darrell, the next time your salmon fishing in the Yellowstone river, who knows what you might reel in!

Comment by Thomas J Coyle III on August 7, 2014 at 5:55pm

I bet that the at least 212 deg F sulphur water has cooked the Lithum out of the battery and into the environment.


TCIII ArduRover2 Developer

Comment by Graham Collie on August 7, 2014 at 6:44pm

@ Darrell, completely agree.


@ Gary, I completely agree that in the States in seems that this issue is being blown out of perspective. In AU the media has just coined onto these 'drones' and is starting the fear of privacy campaign, however I feel that the individual not knowing that they were doing something wrong is no excuse for doing it.

I am in AU and even I know the restrictions that are becoming more and more common in the US with the FAA's 'guidelines'. Watching the development of your laws with great interest as they will no doubt have am impact here as well.

Comment by Gary McCray on August 7, 2014 at 7:03pm

I'm sure your right TC3 and converted it right back into lithium sulfate which was probably the form it was in when it was extracted in the first place.

In high concentration lithium can be toxic, but that is clearly not the situation we have here.

My guess is not one high temperature algae cell was harmed.

And Graham, I completely agree that ignorance is certainly no excuse, I was only commenting on the public / media over-reaction and just suggesting that it be handled as any other normal infraction.

In a lot of places not only the public, but assorted officials (who really ought to know better) react as though a threat to national security was intended in the case of unknowing people flying a Phantom - toy inappropriately.

And their biggest problem is trying to figure out which book to throw at them.

It borders on hysteria and certainly is outside the bounds of reason or common sense.

It is, in fact, non-sense.



Comment by Graham Collie on August 7, 2014 at 7:18pm


We recently had a report published on 60 Minutes in Australia that raised concern about 'masses of drones and the potential terrorist implications'. This sort of one sided ignorance into the technology will breed public fear, coupled with the less than ideal scenarios we are seeing Phantoms used in, we see a very one sided story being told to the public.

I completely understand the need for regulation (and in fact welcome it) however beleive you are 100% correct with the over use of the National Security card when it is something simple such as a toy flying around a large (HOT!) water filled hole in the earth (not to belittle the landmark however!) 

Regarding which book to throw at them, how about something like I am Sam!! I agree this should be treated the same as someone flying a kite in Yellowstone, littering or vandelism, and fines issued accordingly but I fail to see how this particular event should constitute criminal charges, or the media coverage for that matter.

Always interested in the thoughts of those such as yourself in and around the industry though.




Comment by Graham Collie on August 7, 2014 at 7:20pm

A simple addition after reading your post again.... My father used to always tell me, "there is nothing common about common-sense".


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