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Another Drone Crashes Near White House ( 58

An anonymous reader writes: A man has been given a citation for flying a Drone near the Washington Monument and crashing on the Ellipse, a grassy area outside of the security perimeter near the White House South Lawn. Howard Solomon III said he had been trying to take pictures of the monument and that the wind blew the drone across a street that divides the Ellipse from the grounds of the Washington Monument. A spokeswoman for the U.S. Park Police says Solomon didn't appear to be doing anything 'nefarious' but added, hat this was the ninth time a drone has been flown in a national park in the greater Washington area in 2015 and the 26th since 2013.
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Another Drone Crashes Near White House

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  • Or not paranoid enough... crazy times.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Seriously, 9 TERRORIST drones have been flown in national parks?
    And how many KILLER Frisbees?
    What about ASSASSIN boomerangs?

    IMHO, they should define the difference between the small TOY drones and the bigger commercial metal ones based on weight, and quit worrying about the toys.

    Because they have no significant payload, no great momentum if they crash and don't pose a threat except in the imagination of security theater budget justifiers.

    • by KGIII ( 973947 )

      They should and I agree - though privacy aspects should be relative to all of them, regardless of size. That said, and I'll say again, you'll find that your hobby is going to be really restricted because of the attitudes you (not you specifically) keep professing to have. Your failure to police and educate your own is going to result in draconian laws that limit your rights. Whining isn't going to stop that nor is assuming one has a right to use it wherever they want. Simply, you are going to get fucked. Ha

  • Or shot down?

  • by pollarda ( 632730 ) on Sunday October 11, 2015 @09:49AM (#50703845)
    I bet that most of the people flying their drones in and around Washington monuments didn't even realize they were in a National Park. When people think of National Parks, they think of Yellow Stone, Yosemite, etc. out in the middle of the wilderness -- not in the middle of the city. Then there is probably an even smaller percentage that know that flying drones inside National Parks is illegal.

    Of course, flying your drone around the White House is plain stupid. With all the security the President gets you know that flying drones around the White House is simply asking for trouble -- no matter the legality.

    • Well sure.. but shouldn't it be fine to fly a RC helicopter to take some pictures in a national park?

      • by ScentCone ( 795499 ) on Sunday October 11, 2015 @10:05AM (#50703895)
        Apparently not. All RC aircraft, of any kind, are completely banned from use in any area managed by the parks department. That includes thousands of miles of coastline and riverfronts, huge swaths of unoccupied forest, large areas of unoccupied desert, and so on. We certainly can't have some photographer using a 4-pound plastic quad copter to take pictures from 50' feet in the air out in the middle of a huge forest. But we can allow your visit to a national monument to be disrupted by a pack of screaming children, or someone wearing toxic levels of perfume, or people jousting with selfie sticks in front of Abraham Lincoln, because that's different.
        • by ColdWetDog ( 752185 ) on Sunday October 11, 2015 @11:01AM (#50704075) Homepage

          MOST National Park land isn't anything that resembles wildnerness where a drone (or a real helicopter for that matter) would not be noticed. Yes, there are parks like Mount Rainier, North Cascades, Glacier, etc where a drone could easily be lost but many parks look like the tourist traps that they are.

          Even the wilderness-type parks have the majority of humans clustered in small areas.

          And the Park Service has to deal with all manner of idiot on routine basis. From the yo-yo that thinks it's OK to get close enough to some large wild animal to get forensic pictures of nose hair to the moron who tries to tramp up a glacier encrusted mountain in flip flops. And all of their first cousins.

          So yeah, the first reaction to drones or anything remotely like them will be to say no. Even trying to get a helicopter to shoot professional video takes months of going back and forth to get permission. And we users of the less traveled roads in National Parks like it that way. I just bought a couple of miniature drones (Hubsun 4 and similar) to play with until I can get good enough to risk and expensive version out in the boonies and the temptation to use them anywhere is certainly there. They're a lot of fun and the capabilities of a $1000 drone are awfully impressive. That combo is going to bring out the people with both disposable income and disposable brains.

          The Park Service can't stop families or perfumaholics or the ever present selfie stick. They can't stop stupid. The Park Service is a complex beast run by bureaucrats in Washington who think that a giant Coca-Cola sign on the wall of the Grand Canyon would be an OK idea if they got paid enough for it. It is managed by lots of individual folks in the field, some of which are impressively competent and caring. Others not so much.

          But until we have ways of actually controlling this entertaining new concept, I'd agree with NPS and keep the fuckers mostly out.

          • I have to say I could not disagree more. National parks are the one place where the likely damage caused by an out of control drone is incredibly limited and at the same time the footage obtained can be quite stunning. This is a good incentive to get idiots with out of control drones out of the crowded cities.

          • by PPH ( 736903 )

            MOST National Park land isn't anything that resembles wildnerness

            My mistake. Wilderness areas and Washington DC both appear to be populated largely by bumps on logs. Sorry about that.

        • by KGIII ( 973947 )

          They may well have those laws because of the way people acted. I don't know, I've not researched. However, that's probably the case. Did you expect a different outcome?

          • Some people with RC Heli's act like this []. So i wouldn't expect them to behave well in public.
            • by KGIII ( 973947 )

              That thing is wound up pretty damned tight. Holy shit! They're in the house, at eye level, and hammering on it. At least they appear to be able to keep it under control but shit happens. Dumb asses. Ah well... I was young and stupid too, I guess. However, I was a bit more respectful of other people and their safety. It's okay to endanger myself. It's not okay to risk other people.

              You guys want heavy-handed restrictions? This is how you get restrictions. Read some of the damned posts in this threads. They ar

              • I like to fly RC helis and planes and have a lot of respect for them. I have had some minor scrapes but mostly through stupidity when I was initially learning. People are buying these quadcopters to film stuff(I think it might have become a new trend) and flying them in places where I would never operate a small heli due to the dangers they pose. If I didn't have a few hectares to fly/crash in I probably wouldn't bother at all.

                There is going to be some horrific accident in the news soon and the hobby will
                • by KGIII ( 973947 )

                  That is either really good or really bad. I have no idea if he's mashing buttons or if he knows what he's doing. Parts of it look like a dragonfly. It's kind of neat. It's not something I'd bother to learn or do but I feel sorry for those who are going to be restricted because they have a hobby that's getting popular. I sort of know what that's like.

                  Since day one, here on this site - of all places, I've pointed out that the behavior is going to result in regulation. I've been insulted and told that they'd j

  • "drones" eh? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by rubycodez ( 864176 ) on Sunday October 11, 2015 @09:51AM (#50703855)

    remote control hobbyist planes existed when I was a kid. I'm over 50.

    • by Anonymous Coward
      I wonder if paper airplanes are illegal to fly near the WH. "We have an unpowered ultralight drone flying over the fence, initiate code 3 and activate anti-aircraft lasers".
    • VTOL changes things, so does cost of entry...

      • VTOL changes things, so does cost of entry...

        And the ability to receive real-time video so that you can fly beyond the line of sight.

        Modern drones are not your old school RC planes, least of all because of how much more accessible these are to nimrods like the one in TFA.

        • Real-time video feeds from remotely controlled hobby aircraft was a possibility in the 1970s, it's just that the toy would have cost your average Joe 10+ month's wages. Most people had one hobby or the other, but the cost of combining the two was just foolish, given the risk you are putting the equipment into.

          So, today, we bitch and moan about a $2500 pricetag, but even at a "you want fries with that?" job, you can earn the money in less than 2 months, people who went to college and got a degree in somethi

  • by FlopEJoe ( 784551 ) on Sunday October 11, 2015 @10:09AM (#50703901)
    Cool drone, Howard. Want to bring it to the White House? We should inspire more people like you to like science. It's what makes America great.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      It would be even more awesome if Howie could attach a clock he invented to the drone.
    • Cool drone, Howard. Want to bring it to the White House? We should inspire more people like you to like science. It's what makes America great.

      Good one; not holding my breath on that ...

  • So expect lots more drone stories. With 20M million age 8-20 and 40M age 20-40, amillion is not a whole lot.
  • Solomon didn't appear to be doing anything 'nefarious' but added, that this was the nth time a kite has been flown in a national park in the greater Washington area in 2015...

    FTFY, corrected for paranoia that should be illegal at this point.

    By the way, if you were thinking about getting junior a drone for Christmas this year, you might want to rethink that. At the rate we're going, law enforcement will just start shooting on sight.

    And I'm not talking about the drone...

  • by kimvette ( 919543 ) on Sunday October 11, 2015 @01:51PM (#50704871) Homepage Journal

    There is a relatively easy solution to this problem to avoid any confusion.

    Offer permits for such drone flights around monuments and installations such as the Capitol, with the contract signed upon applying for the permit acknowledging the limits on flight ceiling, proximity to the installation and to other people, and a hotline to call to report your location when you start flying and verify the time is okay (you never know if a national security issue has arisen there), if you have a mishap, etc. and when you've finished getting your shots. Even better would be to require that you have a cellphone on you and are reachable in case any sort of "lockdown" event occurs and the drone flight needs to be cancelled to eliminate distraction of security personnel.

    This puts security at ease, preserves your right as The People to view what your tax dollars are paying for, and is a reasonable compromise both sides of the issue. It also eliminates the excuse of "but I didn't know it wasn't okay to hover outside the oval office for 20 minutes!" and "I didn't know it wasn't okay to buzz the President's helicopter!"

    Allowing flights ad-hoc over such installations is chaotic and is a distraction, but disallowing them completely is too extreme. Allowing them under controlled conditions outside the perimeter when there is nothing serious going on is not unreasonable.

  • #1 "He" wouldn't have been flying it, it would have been autonomous

    #2 It probably wouldn't have crashed. .

      Besides the rant, this guys got to be a real knuckle dagger or have other motivation as the camera resolution is 640x480. Here's some pictures and a review so you can see the toy he was flying. []

  • Do Chevy Citations even meet current EPA regs?

    I mean, those cars are from 30 years ago, at best! What kind of monster would give someone a Chevy Citation, just for fly a toy quadcopter?!?

  • I am generally in favor of free airspace (when talking about devices with enough weight to maybe scratch a car if they go wrong)

    But on the other hand: if you at any point *lose control* of your drone, to such an extent that it flies into a restricted-for-a-good-reason zone, then I think that's worthy of a fine.

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