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Old 05-17-2020, 03:20 PM   #1
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Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Massachusetts
Posts: 2,119
Default Highway to the Stupid Zone


In the past, I've expressed my disdain for some of the dumb things I've seen done by morons with drones. I hesitate to call them "pilots" because that term would give them too much credit. I suspect you saw the video a couple of years back by the railfan who used his drone to chase a UP freight, doing aerobatics over the train, weaving in and out of open box cars and even doing close fly-bys near the locomotive cabs. At the end of the video, the kid....yeah, he was a stupid kid...even takes a bow, as if we should all applaud his reckless display.

This week, I saw a video that really made me quite angry. I'm sure many of you have seen clips on the news of Operation America Strong. America's two military air demonstration teams, the Air Force Thunderbirds and Navy Blue Angels have been performing fly-overs of hospitals in major cities as a salute to the healthcare workers who have been putting their lives on the line to save thousands of very sick people. On Thursday, the Blue Angels conducted such a fly-over in Detroit, and some clown with a drone decided he was going to one-up everybody and get a close-up of the team, as it passed over the city. He posted the resulting video on several social media sites, with his name all over it, and apparently, even made remarks on line to the effect that he "probably" violated some Federal Air Regulations.

Although the original video has been taken down, it is now all over the internet. Any claims the guy puts forward regarding copyright likely won't hold up as the video clearly depicts the commission of a crime.

Here is the video. Although he should not have been flying at all, the first couple of passes are not what makes me angry. It's the last one.

To the video

I guess this shows how brainless some of these people are. I suspect it never occurred to this moron, who probably got within 100 ft. of the formation, how little margin there was between his drone and a major calamity. If one of these jets had taken that drone down an engine inlet, it could have caused, at the very least, a major emergency for the pilot involved. If he had taken it in the canopy, it could have been far worse. The team was flying at 1,200 ft. over a VERY built-up area, doing over 300 knots. Simply ejecting would not be an option for the pilot. He knows that wherever the jet goes, it will be bad. These guys will die to protect the crowd.

The Thunderbirds and Blue Angels virtually always fly in a Temporary Flight Restriction (TFR).....sterile airspace. They have to. Their focus on their flying has to be total and they can't be worrying about non-participant aircraft in the way. In the pass you see in the video, Boss Kesselring (the Flight Lead) is the only one who can scan for traffic. The 5 wingmen are totally focused on maintaining precise position with respect to the leader's jet. Yes, there were also chase planes flying with them to clear for traffic and take photos, but at 300 knots+, none of these guys are going to see that drone in time to avoid it. In the formation, they can't maneuver all.

At a minimum, this guy was guilty of:

-Violating a Temporary Flight Restriction

-Flying above 400 AGL

-Failure to give way to manned aircraft

-Careless and reckless operation

-I don't have a Detroit TAC chart in front of me, but he probably busted the Detroit Class B as well.

FAA and the Navy are onto this guy. The case against him is pretty open and shut. Federal regulations specify a civil penalty of up to $27,500 and criminal penalties of up to $250,000. I think the latter clearly applies here. I sincerely hope that the Feds throw the book at this guy and "hang" him from the highest yard-arm, with coverage on the evening news. Something must be done to put a stop to this nonsense. Those of you who own and fly these things responsibly should wholeheartedly support such a move. As one military aviator recently posted on his YouTube channel: "One guy poops himself and everybody is now going to have to wear diapers."

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