Drones Under Fire: Officials Offer $75,000 Reward Leading To Pilots Who Flew Over Wildfire

drones-wildfire-california

If your motto is, “Have drone, will fly over wildfires,” you could find yourself in some hot water.  Earlier this month, we reported how private drones were delaying firefighting efforts in California’s San Bernardino County.  Now, the heads of those drone pilots could be on the proverbial chopping block.

Obviously, people weren’t happy.  Officials, who credit the drones with grounding firefighting aircraft and allowing the fires to spread, are offering a $75,000 reward for information leading to the pilots of the drones.  But, it doesn’t stop there.

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Private Drones Delay Firefighters From Deploying Helicopters To Save Burning People

drone-forest-02

There is no doubt that drones have brought some otherwise inaccessible news, but with that aerial access comes the dangers of uncontrolled airspace.

Southern California is suffering from a pretty wide fire and airplanes and Helicopters have been deployed to fight the fire. Specifically, some of the worst incidents are happening around Cajon Pass where a house and several cars were burnt.

After being deployed the aircrafts were forced to land after 5 drones were sighted.

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Man Shoots Down Neighbor’s Drone, Has To Pay For Damages

hexacopter

Drones are a common and controversial topic, and drones themselves sometimes make people angry.  Brett McBay, a California resident, is so passionate about drones that he instructed his son to shoot one down outside their Modesto, CA home with a shotgun.  McBay alleges that he originally thought the drone was a CIA spycopter.  However, it was a homemade hexacopter built by his neighbor’s son who was home visiting his parents.

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CNN Partners With FAA To Establish New Protocol For Drone Usage By Photojournalists

8746586571_1ea6d66c3d_kIn a statement issued on January 12th, from CNN, the news agency revealed it has teamed up with the FAA in an effort to experiment with various UAV’s (unmanned aerial vehicles). CNN reports the Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRDA) between them and the FAA will serve as a means to establish new regulations and a framework regarding the safe integration of drones into news gathering practices.

CNN also stated they and the FAA will combine it’s study with Georgia Tech Research Institute, with whom CNN had partnered with in the summer of 2014 to conduct similar research. In the statement found on CNN’s website, FAA Administrator, Michael Huerta, explained the partnership:

“Unmanned aircraft offer news organizations significant opportunities. We hope this agreement with CNN and the work we are doing with other news organizations and associations will help safely integrate unmanned newsgathering technology and operating procedures into the National Airspace System.”

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What’s An Officer To Do? BBC Photographer Arrested While Operating Drone Mid-Flight; Police Land Drone Themselves

Photo by Vicki Burton

Photo by Vicki Burton

A veteran photojournalist who works for several different news agencies in British Columbia, including the BBC, was arrested for “disturbing the peace” while taking aerial photographs of a burning building. The photographer, Eddie Mitchell, maintains that he was operating the drone legally. Mitchell says not only does he currently hold a Civil Aviation Authority license for drone operation, but he also had permission from the land owner where he was filming. [Read more…]

Videographer Flies Drone Straight Into Fireworks, Looks Better Than Blasting The Death Star

If you are not tired from watching fireworks footage, here is something I don’t think was seen before. Videographer Jos Stiglingh took his DJI Phantom 2 along with a GoPro Hero 3 silver and flew them right into a fireworks show. Some of the footage is shot above the action, but some of the footage is shot with sparkles and debris flying around the camera (see the first photo after the jump).

I don’t actually think there is another way of obtaining such footage. And while I can’t vouch for the safety of such practice (either of the drone or of the spectators) Jos reports that the drone was unharmed. 
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Canadian Regulation of Aerial Drone Photography – DIYP Interviews Transport Canada and the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada

There seems to be a lot of misinformation and speculation about the actual regulation of aerial drone photography and video online – especially with crazy interactions between photographers and pedestrians like this grabbing headlines.

In this article DIYP interviews both Transport Canada and the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada to find out what legal requirements are in place for both the recreational and commercial use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and what people, places or things can and cannot be legally photographed or filmed from the air in Canada.

Transport Canada - Regulation of Aerial Drone Photography in CanadaOffice of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada Regulation of Aerial Drone Photography In Canada

If you are an aerial photographer in Canada – you might not like some of the answers from the Canadian authorities – but don’t shoot the messenger.  If you don’t live in Canada, I think you will still find the Canadian regulations very interesting.

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UK Takes A Proactive Stand On UAVs – Here Is How You Can And Cannot Fly A Quadcopter In London

uk-cca-dronesUAVs or Drones or Quadcopters or any other name you would like to give cameras mounted on radio controled helicopters are getting increasing attention from both citizens (as opposed to photographers 😉 ) and regulating authorities. We’ve had a UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) abandoned in St Luise after breaking the height limit allowed for aerial activity, and Yosemite National Park banning drones altogether.

The UK is taking a proactive approach making it absolutely clear what is and is not allowed when flying a UAV. British CAA (similar to the US FAA) released a Small Unmanned Aircraft Operations Within London and Other Towns and Cities last month, which makes it crystal clear that while some activities using UAVs are OK, some require license or are simply forbidden. [Read more…]

Can We Stop Calling Them Drones? They’re Just RC Helicopters With A Camera

I don’t know when remote control helicopters became drones, but I think its way past time we stop implying that a fancy RC helicopter with a camera strapped to it is some sort of autonomous Terminator robot.

Terminator Drone Helicopter Hunter Killer photography drone

OK sure, in the beginning I know that somebody though that “drone” sounded a lot cooler than “model airplane”.

Its exactly the kind of thing the model airplane geeks I know would adapt instantly.  Not to mention, I’m sure selling “drones” is a lot easier than selling “remote control model helicopters”.

(In the interest of search engine optimization and my penchant for hypocrisy, I am however going to refer to RC model helicopters as drones for the remainder of this article.)

Bart: Milhouse, this is boring. Make it crash or something.

Milhouse: Perfectly level flying is the supreme challenge of the scale model pilot.

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