One more thing for the flying public to worry about: drones. It’s bad enough that we, the flying public, get to worry about terrorism, tired crews, weather and mechanical malfunctions, now we get to worry about drones.
Many years ago, when I was a flight instructor and an air-taxi operator, kids would fly their wood and paper kites near airfields. On a rare occasion, I would land with strings and paper stuck on and string trailing from the airplane. No big deal. Kids were caught. Problem solved.
Hobby drones have been around in the radio-controlled airplane club world for some time. Those clubs have rules, ethics and because those home-built “toys” cost money, nobody really wanted to put their radio-controlled airplane or drone in harm’s way. Blood, sweat and money loss was too great. So what changed?
Drones are commercially available (don’t have to build them yourself), affordable, relatively easy to fly, no club ethics, and bought by some people with no common sense or a sense of responsibility. Drones have proven to be capable camera platforms, delivery tools and, most recently, a gun platform. In the wrong hands, drones are problematic. All of the above has got to give any terrorist, anti-societal ingrate or idiot plenty of new ideas.
Hopefully, citizens, including owners of drones, who consider themselves responsible, are proactively part of the solution and not part of the problem, by reporting on known dangerous or irresponsible drone operations — turning in to authorities anyone whom they know to fly drones in a way that can be dangerous to citizens, aircraft or engage in unlawful acts, as defined by existing laws (i.e. peeping toms, damaging property, etc.).
Let’s not forget the families who are at risk of losing their homes to a fire because a drone prevented or delayed firefighting activities. Do we always have to have a law enacted to tell us what is “just wrong” or unsafe rather than just using common sense?
It is bad enough to worry about an intentional act of harm by a drone operator. I am fearful and certain that loss of life on a grand scale as a result of an idiotic or irresponsible drone operator is only a matter of time, even when it was unintentional.
Maybe regulation for the sale and possession of drones ought to be similar that to guns. But we already know how that is working.