Hobby Drone Lands on White House Ground

A hobby drone landed, by accident, on the White House grounds, in the wee hours of Monday morning, causing a stir among serious drone hobbyists, the authorities and other observers.

The Washington Post reports about a man believed to be a recreational drone operator accidentally crashed a small device onto the White House grounds early Monday, investigators said, briefly triggering a lockdown and reinforcing concerns about security at the executive mansion. The man later called the Secret Service and explained that he never intended for his two-foot-wide “quadcopter” to breach White House security, the investigators said. They said the agency was working to corroborate his account.

The White House

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The breach was bound to reinvigorate a long-running public debate about the use of commercial drones in U.S. skies — as well as concerns about White House security. At the urging of the drone industry, the Obama administration is on the verge of proposing rules for drone operations that would replace an existing ban on most commercial flights. Read more here

Taking advantage of this latest mishap by a consumer drone, “Senator Charles E. Schumer, Democrat of New York, said Monday that the incident at the White House proved that the F.A.A. should more heavily regulate the use of drones,” according to the New York Times. It should be noted that the Democrat senator has been for some time vocal, albeit sounding anti-drone, about the need for new regulations on drones for the safety of air travelers.

Steve Cohen, the president of the New York City Drone User Group (NYCDUG), on the other hand wrote in his blog:

While this incident is likely to cause legislators to tap the brakes on UAS integration, the fact is that ship has sailed. The technology is easily accessible, and relatively reliable at the hobbyist level. The operator that performed this stunt, at 3:00a no less, is in violation of many laws and should be prosecuted in my opinion.

According to Cohen, in a message to his group, “while the guy who flew the drone did something less than brilliant, it was certainly more relieving to know that it wasn’t nefarious. It was good for him to come forward.”

Indeed, there is no stopping this burgeoning industry, despite the many near-collisions and thoughtless drone piloting that have been happening around. In fact, as shown in one article on The Washington Post, the US Govt has had more crashes & incidents that have been disasters, with drones than perhaps all the civilian pilots with small 3-5 lb machines.

Still responsible drone users, such as those belonging to the NYCDUG, believe that what took place on the White House ground was a “stupidity” uninformed drone hobbyists are wont to commit. James Davis, publisher of The Droneologist, echoes the thoughts of many drone enthusiasts that hobbyist drone flyers need major education that a drone is not a license to be stupid.

There is indeed a need for educating drone users on the proper piloting of their machines. Drones have become more accessible to the masses nowadays, as their costs have gone down, precisely due to the growing demand. Most of these can easily be equipped with cameras, and have proven attractive as unique tools in delivering great uav aerial photography services.


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