FEMA Grounds Private Drones That Were Helping To Map Boulder Floods, Threatens To Arrest Operators

from the heckuva-job dept

As you may have heard, Boulder, Colorado has been hit by massive flooding over the past week, and it's been something of a mess. A local company, Falcon UAV, makers of special drones which are built for the government, approved by the FAA, and specialize in using GPS and cameras to generate highly accurate maps, started helping to map the damage with those drones. It was basically making very useful, near real-time maps showing the floods. You'd think that would be useful to, say, FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency in charge of helping to coordinate the response to the floods. Instead, FEMA ordered the drones grounded or it would have people from Falcon UAV arrested. Once again, this isn't just some guy with a toy quadcopter trying to take photos. These are drones designed for this sort of thing. As the company explains, this grounding made little sense, and possibly held back relief efforts.
Early Saturday morning Falcon UAV was heading up to Lyons to complete a damage assessment mapping flight when we received a call from our Boulder EOC point of contact who notified us that FEMA had taken over operations and our request to fly drones was not only denied but more specifically we were told by FEMA that anyone flying drones would be arrested. Not being one to bow to federal bureaucrats we still went up to Lyons to do a site survey for how we can conduct a mission in the near future to provide an adequate damage assessment to this storm ravaged community.

While we were up there we noticed that Civil Air Patrol and private aircraft were authorized to fly over the small town tucked into the base of Rockies. Unfortunately due to the high terrain around Lyons and large turn radius of manned aircraft they were flying well out of a useful visual range and didn't employ cameras or live video feed to support the recovery effort. Meanwhile we were grounded on the Lyons high school football field with two Falcons that could have mapped the entire town in less than 30 minutes with another few hours to process the data providing a near real time map of the entire town.

[...] We are very disappointed in FEMAs response to actively prevent the use of UAVs and drone technology when these services were offered for free and at a time when manned helicopters could be used for more critical missions such as evacuations and high mountain search and rescues in inaccessible communities.
Sure, you can understand why federal officials would be initially careful about what was happening, but Falcon UAV had already been working with local Boulder County officials to do this effort, and it was clear that what its drones were doing was helpful. Shutting it down with no explanation and threatening to arrest the operators just seems like FEMA shoving people around because it can.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    hjweth (profile), Sep 16th, 2013 @ 12:43pm

    We're from the government, and we're here to help.

     

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  2.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 16th, 2013 @ 12:46pm

    Simple really... If they help, FEMA will save more lives, and in the process lose funding.

     

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  3.  
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    Michael, Sep 16th, 2013 @ 12:55pm

    I would expect FEMA to want to restrict people from flying drones during a crisis. When you are trying to fly in rescue aircraft, the last thing you want is a bunch of tiny unregistered aircraft flying around you, but it seems like a professional outfit already working with law enforcement and government agencies could pretty easily coordinate with their efforts.

     

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  4.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 16th, 2013 @ 1:02pm

    the reason for this is simple. it wasnt pre arranged with the government and the NSA hadn't time to put any 'spy' apparatus into the drones. on top of which, anyone trying to do something that may be of real benefit to the people are instantly forbidden to do so in case the results are released and more want to follow that course. we all know that actually helping the people, you know, to stay alive is the last thing a government wants, unless it has been previously authorised!!

     

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  5.  
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    kenichi tanaka (profile), Sep 16th, 2013 @ 1:05pm

    You might think that this is wrong, but FEMA is in the right on this. This was a government operation to survey damage, but a private company whose only goal was to profit over their so-called 'help'. Until FEMA is able to determine a course of action, private contractors like Falcon UAV would just get in the way.

    The government probably has their own private sub contractors for this sort of thing.

    I don't fault FEMA in the least. Until FEMA can address a course of action to take, sub contractors like Falcon UAV tried to take advantage of a possible situation in order to make money. FEMA probably already has sub contractors under contract and, at any rate, this is where local law enforcement, S.A.R. and other relief organizations like the American Red Cross are more trained to deal with circumstances like this.

     

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  6.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 16th, 2013 @ 1:06pm

    Government agencies hate it when people do things for themselves as it indicates they may not be necessary. Therefore they throw their weight about to make sure that they are in control, and can justify their own existence.

     

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  7.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 16th, 2013 @ 1:10pm

    Re:

    You apparently missed the line "when these services were offered for free"

    Falcon UAV was providing these mapping services free of charge. So no, they were not taking advantage of a possible situation in order to make money.

     

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  8.  
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    davebarnes (profile), Sep 16th, 2013 @ 1:21pm

    "heck of a job"

    FEMA at its best.

     

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  9.  
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    nbcart (profile), Sep 16th, 2013 @ 1:24pm

    Re:

    FEMA should work with them then. Not threaten them. FEMA is wrong in their arrogance.

     

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  10.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 16th, 2013 @ 1:26pm

    Foil Hat Time

    That may be one of those locations where there is an internment camp manned by a subsidiary of Halliburton (Kellogg & Rice ?). They don't want that mapped so they put folks that they can control in the air to do the half-assed job they want done.

     

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  11.  
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    Chris Rhodes (profile), Sep 16th, 2013 @ 1:29pm

    Re:

    You forgot your /sarc tag.

     

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  12.  
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    Shawn, Sep 16th, 2013 @ 1:31pm

    What i'm curious about is how can FEMA order these to land. Is not all aviation related activities the sole perview of the FAA

     

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  13.  
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    Deranged Poster (profile), Sep 16th, 2013 @ 1:33pm

    Falcon UAV, you are not the Goberment, only the Goberment is allowed to play with Drones like that.
    (I.E. you might of seen something we don't want you to see)

     

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  14.  
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    pegr, Sep 16th, 2013 @ 1:33pm

    Authority?

    So where does FEMA get the authority to arrest anyone? Or tell somebody to get their (FAA-approved) planes out of the air?

     

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  15.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 16th, 2013 @ 1:42pm

    Re:

    We're from the government, and we have no idea how to help.

    FTFY

     

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  16.  
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    vastrightwing, Sep 16th, 2013 @ 1:46pm

    Why does the government hate US citizens so much?

    It seems that everytime someone with good intention tries to help, our own government tries to stop it. And to make matters worse, they send in a military SWAT team as if there is a full blown war when there is no evidence of such.

    Where are we living?

     

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  17.  
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    Christopher Best (profile), Sep 16th, 2013 @ 1:47pm

    Re: Authority?

    What do you mean by FAA approved?

    Unmanned aircraft can only operate in controlled airspace with a Letter of Agreement from whoever in the FAA owns that airspace. And then, only one UAS can be operating in that airspace at one time.

    That being said, the Falcon is just a big R/C plane. It's not the sort of UAS that would operate in controlled airspace anyway. It most likely flies well below what the FAA is in charge of.

    As to FEMA's authority... Go read the executive orders that empower them sometime. They can do anything they want, including drafting civilian "consultants" and forcing them to perform services without compensation during an emergency. They are a very scary group of people who I wouldn't want to ever have anything to do with.

     

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  18.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 16th, 2013 @ 1:52pm

    Re: Re:

    "We're from the government, and we have no idea how to help."

    President Ronald Reagan called the phrase “the nine most terrifying words in the English language” in 1986. The phrase and Reagan’s comments are still cited today, especially by conservative media commentators such as Sean Hannity.

     

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  19.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 16th, 2013 @ 1:52pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Woops quoted the wrong line... it was supposed to be "We're from the government, and we're here to help."

     

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  20.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 16th, 2013 @ 1:58pm

    I've been saying it since Katrina and people still don't seem to want to listen.

    FEMA isn't there to primarily provide emergency response and relief for disasters. They exist mainly to provide cover-your-ass for the politicians who are typically asleep at the wheel when this kind of shit happened. To provide the good cover stories, excuses, and bullshit in order for the government to walk out of a major incident blameless. They are mainly politicians first and disaster relief second.

    They likely don't want the drones exposing some major act of incompetence that has made the floods that much worse/or is going to make it much worse.

    Or worse, they want to have that plausible deniability for when something really does go wrong. They don't want drones and technology giving them all the information they need to actually do something to help the situation. If they do that, then they would have no real excuse for themselves if something really DOES go horribly wrong. So they order the drones and relief efforts to be stalled until it's apparent that a fall-man is established or that their involvement can not fail.

    It's the sad state of affairs we live in. Even sadder that people still trust government acronym organizations like them.

     

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  21.  
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    AzureSky (profile), Sep 16th, 2013 @ 1:59pm

    please understand something, people running these agencies and their efforts are enlarge from former generations who dont understand todays world or the tech we have.

    They do not like what they do not understand.

    its the same reason so many in congress are anti-internet and pro MAFIAA they dont understand the tech but they know what they are told to believe...

     

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  22.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 16th, 2013 @ 2:02pm

    Re:

    That's even worse, you just admitted that FEMA refused free help because they have their private contractor buttbuddies to shovel money into for likely inferior, slower, less reliable services. Services that will only go into effect once the disaster is done and all the people who could have been saved are dead.

    But that's really just standard operating procedure for FEMA. Maybe they were worried about violating the status quo of coming in after everything is over and saying "Yep! We sure helped!".

     

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  23.  
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    Deranged Poster (profile), Sep 16th, 2013 @ 2:07pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    meh. both are true

     

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  24.  
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    Anonymous, Sep 16th, 2013 @ 2:16pm

    Re: Re:

    FEMA sucks. Colorado sucks. Screw them both.

     

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  25.  
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    bob, Sep 16th, 2013 @ 2:17pm

    @Anonymous Coward, Sep 16th, 2013 #20 & #22

    What an utterly stupid thing to write and it's plainly obvious you're not here to see this disaster up close and personal but I am.

    The reason they don't want drones flying in that area is because there are close to 20 helicopters in the air and many of them are are actually picking up victims and stranded first responders IN Lyons today. There's no conspiracy or no cya crap just common sense for the aircrews who are helping rescue the victims in a confined airspace.

    Take off your tin foil hat. A mind is a terrible thing to waste.

     

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  26.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 16th, 2013 @ 2:47pm

    Re: Why does the government hate US citizens so much?

    It is much easier to take over large aspects of our lives this way. There is no ulterior motive, there are no hidden agenda's. In the view of the government no one else is better equipped to ruin or improve your life therefore they should be the ones over seeing that effort.

    FEMA as a federal agency technically could have been told to naf off if the local authorities really wanted to do so, but since Federal Dadio is responsible for providing/controlling some relief funds and assistance everyone just folds and lets them run the show because all things considered, things just go smoother if you don't clench.

     

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  27.  
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    Uriel-238 (profile), Sep 16th, 2013 @ 2:50pm

    Um...

    re: kenichi tanaka @5

    You might think that this is wrong, but FEMA is in the right on this....

    Not sure if Poe.

    As of this posting I have not received a US National Security Letter or any classified gag order from an agent of the United States
    Encrypted with Morbius-Cochrane Perfect Steganographic Codec 1.2.001
    Monday, September 16, 2013 11:10:09 AM
    pill stream bomb ambiguous spanner motorcycle emerald sword

     

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  28.  
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    Uriel-238 (profile), Sep 16th, 2013 @ 3:00pm

    Drones need the publicity.

    If the drones were allowed to launch, it would have been an excellent public relations moment for benevolent uses of UAVs. These days, drones are known for spying on and killing silos of civilians (despite all efforts of the Tacocopter).

    Here they could have saved lives, and were denied.

    As of this posting I have not received a US National Security Letter or any classified gag order from an agent of the United States
    Encrypted with Morbius-Cochrane Perfect Steganographic Codec 1.2.001
    Monday, September 16, 2013 11:10:09 AM
    rib diving board stream artillery cork curlers miner frost

     

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  29.  
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    Kennon, Sep 16th, 2013 @ 3:08pm

    drone me

    They don't want any non-government agency doing what amounts to surveillance. Imagine the fun the independent media would have with photos of government troops doing door to door firearm confiscations like they did during Katrina.

     

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  30.  
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    PRMan, Sep 16th, 2013 @ 3:11pm

    Re:

    It's the big guys with handcuffs and the dozen years your life will be ruined before being declared, "innocent".

     

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  31.  
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    Ragnarredbeard (profile), Sep 16th, 2013 @ 3:49pm

    Re:

    There's some brown stuff on your nose. You might want to wipe it off.

     

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  32.  
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    Canuck, Sep 16th, 2013 @ 4:08pm

    Re:

    Na, the real reason is this just don't want detailed photographing or video footage of before/during/after FEMA arrived. That would show how useless they were at helping or in fact how they hindered and slowed the rescue and cleanup effort.

     

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  33.  
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    Nick, Sep 16th, 2013 @ 4:08pm

    Time to shut down these out of control government types

    Time to shut down these out of control government agencies that are out to harm US citizens.

     

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  34.  
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    nasch (profile), Sep 16th, 2013 @ 4:21pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Colorado sucks.

    Have you spent very much time in Colorado? I'm not sure I've ever heard anyone dismiss the entire state like that before.

     

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  35.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 16th, 2013 @ 4:21pm

    Damn it FEMA

    This is why you are overflowing with conspiracy theories and accusing you of having death camps!

     

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  36.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 16th, 2013 @ 4:30pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Please dont quote regan, he was a fucking idiot

     

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  37.  
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    99guspuppet, Sep 16th, 2013 @ 4:51pm

    Eliminate FEMA

    Eliminate FEMA totally worthless and if they were not, they would be redundant.... more taxpayer money going down the drain.... worthless .... local efforts are more rational 99guspuppet

     

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  38.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 16th, 2013 @ 4:59pm

    Re:

    Great use of the reply function there, Bob!

    FEMA is a giant bureaucratic organization that has only helped themselves first and everyone else second. If you were old enough when Katrina happened (You're probably not) you would remember how utterly ineffective their response was even after they were given authorization to be there.

    Also "MUH HELICOPTERS" is a piss-poor excuse for your failed education on aviation. There are hundreds of helicopters in operation at any time of the day in any given airspace, the drones don't "threaten" any of them because they have flight plans as well as the drones. This was a civil service being offered for free that would have even eliminated the need of using mass numbers of helicopters.

    Not that you care, you're one of the few people on the internet I meet who still believes the government isn't serving itself first. "HURR TINFIOL HATTER" is a common excuse of the uneducated and stupid to keep themselves from realizing just how little the government cares about you.

    Read a fucking book sometime and maybe learn how FEMA works to undermine actual disaster relief organizations.

     

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  39.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 16th, 2013 @ 5:01pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Said the moron

     

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  40.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 16th, 2013 @ 5:03pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Who gives a shit what Hannity says

     

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  41.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 16th, 2013 @ 5:04pm

    Re:

    Also I like how you are so ignorant that you fully admit that they want to have their own operators doing disaster oversight. Yet you don't realize that by having their operators doing oversight, they also clean their hands of any screw-ups that may occur under their watch. Excellent "refuting" work there Bob. Pretty much acknowledging the point of the person you're calling a "tinfoil hatter" but then parroting the key point he was trying to make.

    Maybe you should call a septic truck to flush your head, it's clear that brown liquid you keep in there is beginning to overflow quite a bit.

     

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  42.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 16th, 2013 @ 5:07pm

    Re: Re: Authority?

    "Unmanned aircraft can only operate in controlled airspace with a Letter of Agreement from whoever owns that airspace."


    Awwww - aren't you cute.

     

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  43.  
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    Charles, Sep 16th, 2013 @ 5:08pm

    Re:

    Didn't read the article did you? Falcon UAV was doing this for FREE

     

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  44.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 16th, 2013 @ 5:12pm

    Re:

    Simple solution to your hypothetical situation there ... equip the drones with IFF. These drones may already have this functionality, idk.

     

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  45.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 16th, 2013 @ 5:13pm

    Re: Eliminate FEMA

    Yeah, you say that until you are the one who needs help - then it's all waaaaa - no one is helping me - waaaaaa.

     

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  46.  
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    Digger, Sep 16th, 2013 @ 6:16pm

    F FEMA - if county locals asked for help, they get help...

    FEMA can shove it up their flatulent, cream-cheesed asses.

    County asking for help overrides FEMA, period.

    Federal only gets to control what County lets them.

    F'ing F'tards.

     

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  47.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 16th, 2013 @ 6:20pm

    Re:

    Ah, bob. Where've you been, you paywall-cocksucking bastard? Should've trusted you to be around hating on cheaper alternatives. Here, have a report vote!

     

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  48.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 16th, 2013 @ 6:26pm

    FEMA was just safeguarding its employees privacy you wouldn't want them to be caught on camera ransacking houses would you?

    On a serious note though, I am for things that work no matter what the reasons behind them, good or bad those are the things that we use to justify or condemn stuff, but in this case even though Falcon UAV could be accused of trying to get some good PR and marketing material they could use in the future for free (oh the horror), why not? They are a proven company, that already works and sells to law enforcement and other parts of the government, why not coordinate?

    Ever since Bush Jr. screwed up FEMA hierarchy it was never the same again, they used to plan and put out good white papers on how to prepare oneself in case of disasters some of their gasifier designs are used to this day, but that was before Bush Jr.

    Disaster after disaster FEMA seems to do nothing that is helpful, in fact it seems to be more harmful that good, sure in the 80's they still were incompetent and irresponsible but apparently after the 90's they decided to take it to the next level and be complete idiots about how to respond to crisis.

     

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  49.  
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    Lu, Sep 16th, 2013 @ 7:16pm

    Re:

    Actually, they were working free of charge, with the government, on a volunteer basis.

     

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  50.  
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    cmholm, Sep 16th, 2013 @ 7:48pm

    There was a filed NOTAM

    Something the commercial UAV operators will need to plug into: NOTAMs

    http://tfr.faa.gov/save_pages/detail_3_4481.html

    "No pilots may operate an aircraft in the areas covered by this NOTAM (except as described)."

    Reason for NOTAM : TO PROVIDE A SAFE ENVIRONMENT FOR LARIMER COUNTY FLOODING SAR

     

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  51.  
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    mhab, Sep 16th, 2013 @ 8:03pm

    Re:

    considering it says in the article quite clearly that they were assisting the local authorities "free of charge" I would hardly say they would be making a profit from all this

     

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  52.  
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    OneSeraph (profile), Sep 16th, 2013 @ 8:10pm

    So, Falcon UAV claims that they went to the sight to provide help. When they arrived they were informed that the most helpful thing they could do is to stay out of the air space. In other words do nothing. Falcon UAV is now complaining that they were not allowed to help. This seems like a PR stunt on the part of Falcon UAV. For Falcon UAV it's a win-win, if the UAV's actually provide some material benefit they look like hero's if they are not allowed too fly then they are being bullied by the big bad government. Anyone who actually wanted to help would have more understanding about staying out of the way of rescue aircraft. Peoples lives are more important than a technology demonstration. Despite what Falcon UAV may have to say about it. They obviously don't only care about their press release. Falcon UAV have lost any credibility that they might have had. They are definitely not the people I want around if my life is on the line because they clearly couldn't care less.

     

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  53.  
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    OneSeraph (profile), Sep 16th, 2013 @ 8:12pm

    Opps, I meant "They obviously only care about their press release.

     

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  54.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 16th, 2013 @ 8:32pm

    Simple

    It's simple really. As with New Orleans, FEMA just wants innocent people to die. Its purpose is to increase deaths.

     

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  55.  
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    nasch (profile), Sep 16th, 2013 @ 8:48pm

    Re:

    Anyone who actually wanted to help would have more understanding about staying out of the way of rescue aircraft. Peoples lives are more important than a technology demonstration. Despite what Falcon UAV may have to say about it.

    Do you have any evidence at all, or did you just decide they're evil out of thin air? Keep in mind they had been working with Boulder County emergency services previous to being shut down; they weren't just randomly butting in where they weren't wanted. Do you have information indicating that they were offering their services free of charge solely to get good press?

     

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  56.  
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    nasch (profile), Sep 16th, 2013 @ 8:48pm

    Re:

    Opps, I meant "They obviously only care about their press release.

    I don't find that obvious at all.

     

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  57.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 16th, 2013 @ 9:29pm

    Re: Re: Re: Authority?

    Dunno if he's cute or not without a picture, but he is correct: Either a COA or a special airworthiness certificate is currently required for unmanned aircraft operating in the national airspace system.

    http://www.faa.gov/documentLibrary/media/Notice/N_8900.227.pdf

     

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  58.  
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    Patr, Sep 16th, 2013 @ 9:29pm

    Re: Falcon UAV

    I read several news reports that Falcon was donating their drones, operators and mapping software and were fully integrated into the local emergency response plan.

    Here is one link to the information http://spectrum.ieee.org/automaton/robotics/aerial-robots/falcon-uav-provides-colorado-flooding-assi stance-until-fema-freaks-out

    Sounds like FEMA wasn't flexible enough to adapt to a situation that was under control and providing valuable assistance in an emergency.

     

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  59.  
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    OneSeraph (profile), Sep 16th, 2013 @ 10:18pm

    Re: Re:

    Yes, they created the press release complaining that they were not allowed to participate. FIMA never asked for Falcon UAV's help, so they were just butting in. Not to mention the omission that FEMA did give a reason "Keeping the airspace clear for rescue aircraft". Actions speak louder than words. If Falcon UAV just wanted to help they could have done so without creating a press release filled with fake outrage. The fact is, they made a point of getting this "story" to the press. In my opinion that makes them the sort of people who just want to benefit from the misfortune of others.

    Falcon UAV first has the nerve to conduct itself in this shameless and self serving way. Then have audacity to think that we are so stupid that we won't recognize they're ridiculous self promotion for what it is. Disgusting!

     

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  60.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 16th, 2013 @ 10:55pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    rescue aircraft... like civil air patrol and private planes? which, having no ability to land and pick up folks, were probably involved in mapping efforts?

     

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  61.  
    identicon
    Alsee, Sep 16th, 2013 @ 11:25pm

    Re:

    "a private company whose only goal was to profit over their so-called 'help'...
    Falcon UAV tried to take advantage of a possible situation in order to make money."

    Damn straight.
    To quote the article "these services were offered for free".... that's zero of MY TAX DOLLARS that the government would have been handing over to this money-grubbing private company.

     

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  62.  
    icon
    OneSeraph (profile), Sep 16th, 2013 @ 11:43pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Private aircraft were not allowed in the airspace.
    See http://tfr.faa.gov/save_pages/detail_3_4481.html

    The 20+ helicopters could certainly engage in rescue operations, including landing.

    As for mapping operations, FEMA has the authority to request military resources. Military overflights could provide whatever level of mapping precision required, full stop. If FEMA needed Mapping resources to conduct operations, they have access to far better technology than Falcon UAV can provide.

     

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  63.  
    identicon
    fromn.y., Sep 17th, 2013 @ 2:45am

    Re:

    I have seen what some FEMA subs can do in the wake of superstorm sandy. The homes that they worked on are now an accident waiting to happen. They look and smell good however, the lake of knowledge of IBC is not with them.

     

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  64.  
    identicon
    fromN.Y., Sep 17th, 2013 @ 3:07am

    re

    I should have said that the knowledge of the IBC is not with them.

     

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  65.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 17th, 2013 @ 3:59am

    Response to: kenichi tanaka on Sep 16th, 2013 @ 1:05pm

    You are a moron. The article clearly stated that the company was doing it for free.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  66.  
    icon
    Reality Check (profile), Sep 17th, 2013 @ 4:02am

    Re:

    Spoken like a loyal Party member.

    Loyal Party members have nothing to fear.

     

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  67.  
    identicon
    corn, Sep 17th, 2013 @ 4:03am

    Response to: kenichi tanaka on Sep 16th, 2013 @ 1:05pm

    You need to 1) hop off government wang 2) work on your reading comprehension. It clearly says the private company was offering these life saving services for free. Read the article before you comment on the article.

     

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  68.  
    icon
    Ninja (profile), Sep 17th, 2013 @ 4:16am

    Re:

    I don't think it's a case where people are making FEMA unnecessary. It's actually adding to its own capacity. Partnering with the drone company would not only extend their abilities to provide support and relief but it would also be amazing PR for both sides. Instead FEMA now looks like a bunch of assholes and the drone guys look like the good guys.

     

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  69.  
    identicon
    The Real Michael, Sep 17th, 2013 @ 4:48am

    "Shutting it down with no explanation and threatening to arrest the operators just seems like FEMA shoving people around because it can."

    I think it's time for the American people to shove back. We're not subservient to the dictates of FEMA nor any other federal-run agency.

     

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  70.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 17th, 2013 @ 4:54am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Authority?

    Yeah isn't that great - and yet drones fly around unfettered across the globe without a stitch of certificate anywhere to be found.

     

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  71.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 17th, 2013 @ 5:00am

    Re: Re: Re:

    "has the nerve to conduct itself in this shameless and self serving way. Then have audacity to think that we are so stupid that we won't recognize they're ridiculous self promotion for what it is. Disgusting"


    I'm glad you were able to get that off your chest, now maybe you could share how you actually feel about it.

    Chest beating and hand waving aside, I hear complaints about people not doing enough, complaints about people doing too much ... not so much.

     

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  72.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 17th, 2013 @ 5:02am

    Re: Re:

    What is obvious ... someone is grinding an axe

     

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  73.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 17th, 2013 @ 5:11am

    No surprise here I mean it's FEMA! They paid me almost 2000$ per day to park my semi on an airstrip after Katrina and I sat there for 10 days.
    Yes.. I was paid 20 grand to sit on a fucking airstrip with bottled water. I'm not bitching about it, but honestly I would have rather just dropped the trailer. It made me feel like a dick to be taking so much money to do nothing while people were suffering..
    Even Worse the owner operators there were being paid upwards of five grand per day.

    I will never understand the reasoning of FEMA..

     

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  74.  
    identicon
    Brian, Sep 17th, 2013 @ 5:41am

    Re:

    What?

    In the article they specifically mentioned the contractor was doing this for free. Where is the profit in that? Now, if you're suggesting they are doing this to build name recognition and that will make money down the line, I still don't see a problem with this.

    The article mentioned that FEMA and their resources did not have the ability to adequately map the town because of the high terrain.

     

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  75.  
    identicon
    Tony, Sep 17th, 2013 @ 6:14am

    Re:

    Your lack of reading comprehension is likely the product of a government education. They were doing the work for free. And they specialize in exactly what they were doing, unlike the Red Cross, who I'm pretty sure doesn't operate drones.

    You're either a FEMA shill or just really effing stupid.

     

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  76.  
    identicon
    Todd Bradley, Sep 17th, 2013 @ 6:19am

    Disaster airspace is closed to private craft

    This has nothing to do with private services or how much money the company is or isn't making. The FAA (not FEMA) shut down airspace to civil aviation. These drones are privately owned and operated. That means they can't fly into the evacuation zones any more than the 9 News helicopter or someone's private business jet. I'm OK with that. Personally I'd prefer to avoid a scenario where a Chinook evacuating a couple dozen people out of Lyons ingests a private drone and crashes.

     

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  77.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 17th, 2013 @ 6:21am

    Response to: kenichi tanaka on Sep 16th, 2013 @ 1:05pm

    You did notice the word FREE in the article right? Falcon wasn't getting paid for their help at the time.

     

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  78.  
    identicon
    Vitamin J, Sep 17th, 2013 @ 6:25am

    Re:

    Except that Falcon was working with the local government, not just out there because they felt like it...

     

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  79.  
    icon
    nasch (profile), Sep 17th, 2013 @ 6:30am

    Re:

    I don't think I've ever seen a comment corrected more times in a row. At least not on this site.

     

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  80.  
    icon
    nasch (profile), Sep 17th, 2013 @ 6:31am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    As for mapping operations, FEMA has the authority to request military resources.

    Yeah, that would be a great use of money. Have military surveillance aircraft do some flyovers rather than getting the services for free.

     

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  81.  
    identicon
    smartas, Sep 17th, 2013 @ 6:38am

    Re: are you blind?

    They were doing this work for FREE. I doubt we'd have heard anything at all about the company if this story had never broke. FEMA is full of a bunch of idiots.

     

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  82.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 17th, 2013 @ 6:50am

    Lots of overreaction and hyperbole in this thread but the author of this article and several others articles like it are overreacting. Additionally, it seems like the UAS/UAV manufacturer was just looking for free publicity, which they seem to be getting.

    The Falcon UAS operators should know very well the FAA restrictions on flying UAS/UAVs within US domestic airspace - they know better than to just fly their aircraft without FAA approval. The FAA allows UAVs to fly on an extremely limited basis in the in US airspace primarily for safety reasons (read accidental collision with manned aircraft).

    This article reads like the airspace above and around Boulder is already full of manned aircraft (they reference civil air patrol and private aircraft) so adding unmanned aircraft to the mix is potentially hazardous considering the lack of air traffic control at low altitudes.

    It sounds like FEMA needs to do a better job of explaining why they don't wan the UAV flying (FAA regulations, safety) or, even better, working with the UAV operator to get a temporary permit if the UAV is being as effective as these articles claim.

    TL;DR - FAA regulations don't allow UAVs to be flown ad hoc within US airspace for safety reasons. FEMA didn't explain; this article author doesn't seem to do research; manned aircraft + UAVs in uncontrolled airspace is a recipe for disaster.

     

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  83.  
    identicon
    DaniOcean, Sep 17th, 2013 @ 6:59am

    Re:

    Pretty bold claim there. From the information the company is willing to provide free assistance to local law enforcement and public safety agencies as a community service. Something quite common around the country. Additionally, FEMA allowed other private individuals to fly aircraft in the area and help with the rescue efforts, they just grounded the drones.

    Until I hear FEMA's side of the story I will reserve judgement, but I'm already biased against them, because they prove their incompetence time and time again.

     

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  84.  
    icon
    OneSeraph (profile), Sep 17th, 2013 @ 6:59am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    You will note that I said if such services were needed. Also on a side note, it is very likely that the military already has the updated maps. The USA has what can only be described as formidable orbital reconnaissance capability. That means any weather day or night at high resolution ect..

    All of which is off point. The point is FEMA did not want Falcon UAV or anyone other than search and rescue in the airspace. A very sensible position to take. A necessary position to take from a logistics position. Falcon UAV must understand the situation, however they decided to go ahead with a very self serving PR stunt, with no regard for the people in harms way.

     

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  85.  
    identicon
    Joe Dirt, Sep 17th, 2013 @ 7:05am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Authority?

    You didn't see the part about the type of drones they are using did you? These are survey drones for topographical maps and such, not the military drones to which you are alluding.

     

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  86.  
    identicon
    Richard, Sep 17th, 2013 @ 7:05am

    Re:

    They were offering the assistance of the drones for FREE. They were in no way attempting to profit from the disaster. Get off your high horse, FEMA are in the wrong. It's a company who already work with local and government agencies as is mentioned several times both in the article and the comments, and could have easily coordinated with FEMA. Do you not realise how important up-to-date maps and information are in a situation like this?

    If you REALLY want a conspiracy theory, how about FEMA not wanting pictures taken of the fracking facilities which are now underwater and leaking dangerous chemicals into the flood water?

     

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  87.  
    identicon
    Joe Dirt, Sep 17th, 2013 @ 7:09am

    Re: Re: Why does the government hate US citizens so much?

    "In the view of the government no one else is better equipped to ruin or improve your life therefore they should be the ones over seeing that effort."

    This is the main reason that big government is bad. As wacko as many of the Tea Party people seem, this is the basis for their argument about government size/power/intrusion. In essence, "Don't Tread On Me!"

     

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  88.  
    icon
    OneSeraph (profile), Sep 17th, 2013 @ 7:16am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Yeah, OK
    That is a fair criticism of my "perhaps" overly enthusiastic comment.

    That said, I was not complaining about Falcon UAV's desire to help. My complaint is that once they were told that the best thing they could do was to keep they're aircraft out of the airspace. Something Falcon UAV should understand (the complexity of managing the SAR airspace) as an aerial reconnaissance company. They could have and should have left it at that, with FEMA aware that the resource is available if needed. What Falcon UAV did was create a press release with misleading information and fake outrage. Not what I would describe as helpful.

     

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  89.  
    icon
    OneSeraph (profile), Sep 17th, 2013 @ 7:18am

    Re: Disaster airspace is closed to private craft

    Well said sir, well said.

     

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  90.  
    identicon
    Joe Dirt, Sep 17th, 2013 @ 7:19am

    Re:

    You missed the part about Falcon already having approval to fly in the airspace prior to the floods... they were already there and working when this all went down... they offered their services pro bono in an effort to help free up FEMA resources for more urgent needs.

     

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  91.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 17th, 2013 @ 7:21am

    Response to: kenichi tanaka on Sep 16th, 2013 @ 1:05pm

    Read again, they wanted to do it for free

     

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  92.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 17th, 2013 @ 7:21am

    Re:

    ummm... read the article. They were doing this for free.

     

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  93.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 17th, 2013 @ 7:29am

    Largest aerial evacuation since Katrina in progress? Check.
    Bunch of amateurs trying to fly drones while you're busy looking for the seven hundred people who are missing? Check.
    Constant flights of helicopters over flood-damaged areas? Check.

    They will have time for mapping after the rescues are over. I think they were just jumping the gun in their eagerness to help.

     

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  94.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 17th, 2013 @ 7:31am

    Response to: kenichi tanaka on Sep 16th, 2013 @ 1:05pm

    If you would have read the article, they were already working with local authorities AND offering their services for free.

     

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  95.  
    icon
    OneSeraph (profile), Sep 17th, 2013 @ 7:33am

    Re:

    You have hit the tinfoil right on the head. Nice to see that sense and reason still exists here in the USA.

     

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  96.  
    icon
    OneSeraph (profile), Sep 17th, 2013 @ 7:43am

    Re: Re:

    They may have had permission to fly in the airspace before the flood. Once the flood started it became disaster airspace. Disaster airspace is closed to all private aircraft in order to clear the airspace for search and rescue operations. Falcon UAV was well aware of that fact at the time, yet they created a press release with fake outrage just the same.

     

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  97.  
    identicon
    Brandon, Sep 17th, 2013 @ 7:54am

    Response to: kenichi tanaka on Sep 16th, 2013 @ 1:05pm

    Except it says this was a free offer in the article, and Falcon already works with the government. In addition to that, Falcon had already talked and discussed this option with Boulder County. Sounds like feds being pushy.

     

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  98.  
    identicon
    DaFuq, Sep 17th, 2013 @ 7:58am

    Re:

    Did you even read the article? They were donating their time and effort. They were not in it to make money. What they were doing was helping. FEMA is obstructing local efforts, while they "assess" the situation. I recall them "assessing" the situation for 3 days while people starved and died after Katrina.

     

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  99.  
    icon
    Rapnel (profile), Sep 17th, 2013 @ 8:07am

    Re:

    Given all the responses to your post I'm going to assume that you missed a somewhat important piece of information. I could be wrong though as you know what they say about assumptions - it's takes an ass and some umption to make some and you still got nothing.

     

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  100.  
    identicon
    Whatat Oolsack, Sep 17th, 2013 @ 8:16am

    Re:

    You moron! They were already working with government officials and HELPING them. Did you even read the entire article? As someone that LIVES in Colorado IN the affected area, I would like you to take your self on a long walk off a short pier.

     

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  101.  
    identicon
    Joshua, Sep 17th, 2013 @ 8:36am

    Re:

    Falcon were providing this service 100% for free. Yes they would later go "we accomplished this during the floods, why not buy from us?", but that's a far cry from hindering efforts for personal gain.

     

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  102.  
    icon
    Christopher Weigel (profile), Sep 17th, 2013 @ 8:59am

    Re: Re:

    Uh... Michael doesn't seem to be the one with reading comprehension issues here. But please continue telling us how living in the affected area gives you a free pass to jump on people.

    Or, better, take a long walk off your newly abridged sidewalk.

     

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  103.  
    identicon
    Amie, Sep 17th, 2013 @ 9:00am

    Re: paranoia of businesses

    That doesn't make any sense. The government isn't virtuous or right in this. Falcon UAV isn't making money operating those. It's using what they have to help. A business making money isn't an inherently evil thing either -- especially when they are making things to help people in a disaster.

    The bigger question is, why wouldn't FEMA want that information? It could save people's lives. But you think the government is in the right because a business owns the drones? That is ridiculous and senseless.

    They can map the area that FEMA needs to operate in. Not wanting that kind of help sounds extremely fishy.

     

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  104.  
    icon
    nasch (profile), Sep 17th, 2013 @ 9:13am

    Re: Re: Re:

    They may have had permission to fly in the airspace before the flood. Once the flood started it became disaster airspace.

    The were working with Boulder County EOC (Emergency Operations Center) after the flood to provide mapping services. Again, these people were not just randomly trying to fly their drones around uninvited. The authorities were already working with the during the disaster until FEMA stopped them. I'm not saying FEMA doesn't have the legal authority to do what they did - from what I've heard they have the authority to do pretty much anything. But I think you're painting a misleading picture of what was happening.

     

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  105.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 17th, 2013 @ 9:22am

    Re:

    Hre is a much more balabced and logical disucssion, on the first comment. Read.

    http://www.reddit.com/r/technology/comments/1mjyp7/fema_grounds_private_drones_that_were_he lping_to/

     

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  106.  
    identicon
    JD, Sep 17th, 2013 @ 9:24am

    Re: Anonymous Coward and others Re Gov't bullying

    Here is a much more balanced and logical discussion on why a Gov't agency does not want tp test new technology during a disaster.

    http://www.reddit.com/r/technology/comments/1mjyp7/fema_grounds_private_drones_that_wer e_helping_to/

     

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  107.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 17th, 2013 @ 9:46am

    Re:

    Read the last paragraph;

    "[...] We are very disappointed in FEMAs response to actively prevent the use of UAVs and drone technology when these services were offered for free and at a time when manned helicopters could be used for more critical missions such as evacuations and high mountain search and rescues in inaccessible communities."

     

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  108.  
    identicon
    Ryan Presson, Sep 17th, 2013 @ 9:47am

    Re: Kenichi Tanaka

    Did you even read that article? They were doing it all for free. There was no profiteering here. A gov't entity came in a shut them down after they were already in the area working with the boulder sheriffs Office.

    I quote from the article - [...] We are very disappointed in FEMAs response to actively prevent the use of UAVs and drone technology when these services were offered for free and at a time when manned helicopters could be used for more critical missions such as evacuations and high mountain search and rescues in inaccessible communities.

     

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  109.  
    identicon
    MIke B, Sep 17th, 2013 @ 10:00am

    Arrested??

    On what grounds were these arrests to transpire? What law?

     

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  110.  
    identicon
    joey, Sep 17th, 2013 @ 10:04am

    Re:

    "...these services were offered for free..."

    (second-to-last paragraph)

     

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  111.  
    identicon
    Pseudononymous Coward, Sep 17th, 2013 @ 10:17am

    Re: Re:

    ...equip the drones with a mode C transponder.

    FTFY

     

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  112.  
    identicon
    bob, Sep 17th, 2013 @ 10:20am

    the whole thing was BOGUS!

    There was no order from FEMA to ground the UAV, it was misinformation spread an idiotic right wing website.

    http://www.9news.com/news/local/article/355477/635/Colorado-Floods-Myths-debunked

     

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  113.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 17th, 2013 @ 10:39am

    FEMA Camps

     

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  114.  
    identicon
    Ace, Sep 17th, 2013 @ 10:53am

    Re:

    FEMA doesn't have authorization over airspace, its 100 percent FAA. It's even very clearly stated in FEMA records:

    DOT/Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is responsible for the operation and regulation of the U.S. National Airspace System, including during emergencies.
    - http://www.fema.gov/pdf/emergency/nrf/nrf-esf-01.pdf

    Also, the drone operators were using FAA licensed and authorized equipment. That means they act with the same authority as a pilot flying a 747. The fact that its controlled remotely doesn't change anything.

    FEMA was absolutely in the wrong; despite what may appear to be best intentions.

     

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  115.  
    identicon
    Ace, Sep 17th, 2013 @ 11:01am

    Re: Re: Authority?

    UAVs can operate anywhere a licensed pilot with a Class 2 medical exam can. The LoA would be from the local ATC controlling that airspace.

    The FAA controls all airspace; even that used by hobbyists, which are allowed to operate below 400 ft.

    Currently the FAA does not distinguish between large UAVs and micro-UAVs, but that may change in the upcoming months. And that's where most people who operate UAVs get themselves into trouble.

    Also, FEMA does not have any authority over the airspace, even stated in FEMA documentation available on their website: "DOT/Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is responsible for the operation and regulation of the
    U.S. National Airspace System, including during emergencies. "
    - http://www.fema.gov/pdf/emergency/nrf/nrf-esf-01.pdf

     

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  116.  
    identicon
    Carla, Sep 17th, 2013 @ 11:01am

    its punishment for the recall- the Obama admin is vengeful like that.

     

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  117.  
    icon
    OneSeraph (profile), Sep 17th, 2013 @ 11:03am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Once the flood was declared a disaster, the NOTAM was issued as is standard procedure. The NOTAM in this case http://tfr.faa.gov/save_pages/detail_3_4481.html

    It does not matter what Falcon UAV was doing before that. Falcon UAV and anyone else that might want to fly in that airspace were informed that "No pilots may operate an aircraft in the areas covered by this NOTAM" and the reason for the NOTAM is "TO PROVIDE A SAFE ENVIRONMENT FOR LARIMER COUNTY FLOODING SAR".

    Being in the aviation business, one would expect that Falcon UAV would be familiar with these procedures and expect them as a matter of course. I have little doubt that they did. That means that they're press release was full to bursting with false shock and false outrage.

    So, one of three things is true.

    1. Falcon UAV made the press release in good faith. Meaning they are either so inexperienced or so incompetent that you do not want they're help.

    2. Falcon UAV are so stupid that they truly don't understand the words "TO PROVIDE A SAFE ENVIRONMENT FOR LARIMER COUNTY FLOODING SAR". In which case you do not want them anywhere near the disaster area.

    3. Falcon UAV new full well what they were doing with this blatant self serving PR stunt.

    Me, I think it's number three, but hey I could be giving them too much credit. Maybe they really are a bunch of incompetent morons. But if that's true? How good do think they're maps are? hmmm..

     

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  118.  
    identicon
    blah, Sep 17th, 2013 @ 11:07am

    Re: Why does the government hate US citizens so much?

    You're living in the country you voted into existence.


    Pity yoy didn't give your choices more thought.

     

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  119.  
    identicon
    cuntrag, Sep 17th, 2013 @ 11:12am

    Re: Re: Re:

    How about you fuck your dead mother's skull instead

     

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  120.  
    icon
    OneSeraph (profile), Sep 17th, 2013 @ 11:12am

    Re: the whole thing was BOGUS!

    Yep

    Guess who's website, if you guessed Falcon UAV's website, you guessed right.

    Like I said shameless self promotion with no thought for the lives of the victims of this disaster. It's absolutely shameful in my opinion. I think they are a bunch of degenerate scumbags.

     

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  121.  
    icon
    acer328 (profile), Sep 17th, 2013 @ 11:12am

    Trying to correct misinformation

    A lot of really terrible information is being passed around in these comments.

    No, FEMA does not have any authority over air space. That is 100% FAA. Here is a quote from FEMA documentation, "DOT/Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is responsible for the operation and regulation of the U.S. National Airspace System, including during emergencies."
    - http://www.fema.gov/pdf/emergency/nrf/nrf-esf-01.pdf

    Yes, the operators were legally operating the UAV so long as they have a pilot license and a Class 2 medical examination, then they are treated the same as any other pilot.

    If they do not have a pilots license, they must have completed ground school and still have a Class 2 medical exam. The UAV must be registered with the FAA; including each piece having a serial number.

    To fly for not-profit means being associated with a research entity under a Certificate of Authorization (CoA), such as a state university or the government. There isn't anything in the regulations stating that a company or individual that has complied with all FAA regulations cannot operate for profit, provided they are not trying to profit under a CoA.

     

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  122.  
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    MOX, Sep 17th, 2013 @ 11:31am

    Everyone's comments on this are ridiculous. If this drone stays below a certain altitude, and manned aircraft above that altitude, we avoid any problems. I'd expect this falcon UAV to be significantly cheaper to operate than any government aircraft.

     

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  123.  
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    Tloc, Sep 17th, 2013 @ 11:46am

    Drone Capabilities

    Governement doesn't want ANY details getting out about the drones they are using to watch over us here. These drones have created high resolution maps in under an hour of huge amounts of land. Imagine how quickly they could locate a person of interest when you have the NSA processing the data.

     

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  124.  
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    acer328 (profile), Sep 17th, 2013 @ 11:52am

    Re:

    Human piloted helicopters, at a minimum, are $1,000 per hour to operate.

     

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  125.  
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    Jeff Crawford, Sep 17th, 2013 @ 12:06pm

    Re:

    Did you not see where they were doing this at NO CHARGE? FEMA isn't worth a crap. They hinder more than help. Just ask the folks in New Orleans...

     

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  126.  
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    Kelly, Sep 17th, 2013 @ 12:24pm

    Helicopters and Drones

    Your own tin foil hat is over your eyes, bob. The drones were already in the air while the 20 helicopters were picking up victims the whole time BEFORE FEMA got there.

    Common sense--real-time mapping didn't get in the way.

     

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  127.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 17th, 2013 @ 1:04pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    hey Tin Foil anti-gov guys -- FEMA's not perfect, but neither is any for-profit business that I've worked with. Maybe this is a poor call on some gov administrator's part, but I'm pretty sure no company would be flying choppers all day to rescue small clusters of US citizens trapped in the mountains -- not without charging them an arm and a leg. That's for sure!

     

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  128.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 17th, 2013 @ 1:08pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    This loser calls himself "cuntrag" -- yeah he's not a complete inbred moron whose cracker parents were clearly related kissin' cousin. Keepin' it "in" the family seems to be what he knows best!!! HA HAAA

     

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  129.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 17th, 2013 @ 1:53pm

    Response to: kenichi tanaka on Sep 16th, 2013 @ 1:05pm

    They were offering to do it for free, it would cost FEMA nothing.

     

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  130.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 17th, 2013 @ 2:24pm

    Re:

    "A local company, Falcon UAV, makers of special drones which are built for the government, approved by the FAA, and specialize in using GPS and cameras to generate highly accurate maps..."

    Did you miss that part?? These ARE the private sub-contractors for this sort of thing!

     

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  131.  
    identicon
    Beads, Sep 17th, 2013 @ 2:32pm

    Re:

    This comment reflects a problem with today's younger generation- being taught that Capitalism is bad. It is actually OK to profit- even in a time of crisis. If they make a profit great- if no one wants there data, that's fine too (and they lose money). Companies that "gouge" end up suffering in the long term, especially with hyper connected media freaks. Angie's list? Rating system on Amazon? Let them fly, and let the market settle the mater.

     

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  132.  
    identicon
    KevinC, Sep 17th, 2013 @ 2:36pm

    Re: Re:

    Same in Homestead after Andrew. FEMA was more in the way than helpful. For the first few days they turned trucks with food and water away for not going through them to coordinate. The Keys had little damage but we were isolated but still sent water only to have the trucks come back full.

     

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  133.  
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    Falindraun (profile), Sep 17th, 2013 @ 3:28pm

    i think this falls under the 'because we didnt think of it you're not allowed' department

     

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  134.  
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    Ky Zirkle, Sep 17th, 2013 @ 4:09pm

    Re: you're joking, right?

    Did you even read the article? Falcon UAV was already working with local government, FOR FREE, the UAV's are made for the government(gee, would that make them a sub-contractor?), and they're registered with the FAA. I realize since Falcon was doing it for free it meant FEMA couldn't charge for it but come on, you'd think an agency with the word "management" in it's name would be better at managing it's available resources, especially ones offered for free. Do you work for FEMA?

     

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  135.  
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    sharon ODonnell, Sep 17th, 2013 @ 4:18pm

    Re:bob

    Bob arrogant ass you probably are from the govt. and your shit don't smell kinda attitude goes a long way in proving how bad big govt. can get.

     

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  136.  
    identicon
    John, Sep 17th, 2013 @ 4:24pm

    Re:

    Kenichi, your argument is full of flaws. First, how do you know that it is the intent of Falcon UAV to "to profit over their so-called 'help?'" Is it impossible for a business to provide philanthropy in its own community? I think not. Second, even if Falcon intended to make a profit in some way, why is this a priori a bad thing, especially if they are providing useful, perhaps life-saving, service? At least Falcon is making their profit in a voluntary fashion on the market, as opposed to FEMA, which funds its operations via coercive extraction from the population (aka tax dollars).
    Finally, your point about "training": Falcon UAV is a company that, according to their website, specializes in unmanned aerial reconnaissance. Falcon UAV was attempting to perform aerial damage assessment using their drones, and apparently nothing more. This IS their area of expertise, this IS what they are trained to do. Just because they don't have badges or government affiliations doesn't mean they aren't professionals. In fact, given how incompetent FEMA is, I would assume Falcon is even more qualified for this job.

     

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  137.  
    identicon
    JohnJ, Sep 17th, 2013 @ 5:03pm

    Re:

    @kenichi tanaka, you are an idiot.

     

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  138.  
    identicon
    Anonymous, Sep 17th, 2013 @ 5:22pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    I have my reasons for believing that they are getting what they deserve.

     

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  139.  
    identicon
    anon, Sep 17th, 2013 @ 6:43pm

    Re:

    There is always some nanny state loving, government patsy around.

     

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  140.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 17th, 2013 @ 7:34pm

    Re:

    Two points: The craft are not particularly small, and they are registered with the FAA. With my own experience within Civil Air Patrol, any outside help at lower altitudes is an incredible boon. These are volunteers spending their own time and money, and usually do not have the sort of advanced equipment necessary to do this sort of damage mapping. That FEMA would dismiss their offer and efforts out of hand is troubling to me.

     

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  141.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 17th, 2013 @ 7:38pm

    Re: Re:

    Thank you for that clarification. I wasn't sure if they had that authority or not, but this certainly puts a different spin on the story.

     

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  142.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 17th, 2013 @ 7:43pm

    Re: Re: Authority?

    What do you mean by FAA approved?

    Generally this would mean that the airframe was examined and tested by the FAA and approved for flight above 400 feet. Such craft are generally registered with the FAA.

    The rest of your points have already been addressed. FEMA had no authority to make this order.

     

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  143.  
    icon
    Jeremy (profile), Sep 17th, 2013 @ 8:15pm

    Wow, FEMA is run by some class-A idiots.

     

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  144.  
    identicon
    tina, Sep 17th, 2013 @ 9:49pm

    reason why

    sorry if this is redundant - no time to read commnets but could thids be the reason?
    http://grist.org/news/oil-and-fracking-chemicals-spill-into-colorados-floodwaters/

     

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  145.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 18th, 2013 @ 3:12am

    Re:

    If your trapped in a flood zone would you be happy to see a private contractor or would you decline help and wait for government authorized help?

    Also the services of Falcon UAV were offered free of charge, so your profit motive doesn't hold up either.

     

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  146.  
    icon
    co_alpine (profile), Sep 18th, 2013 @ 4:55am

    Re:

    "but a private company whose only goal was to profit" so, when was making a profit a bad thing? if more companies actually did this our need to bail our companies with taxpayer money would go away. the cost to run a UAV with video systems is going to be a lot less of a cost and a lot more of a help than flying full aircraft around all day just looking.

     

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  147.  
    identicon
    Missie, Sep 18th, 2013 @ 5:21am

    Response to: Michael on Sep 16th, 2013 @ 12:55pm

    The article says the drone operation would take around 30 minutes.

     

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  148.  
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    christopher, Sep 19th, 2013 @ 7:38am

    floods ended

    to me it's simple an correct me if Im wrong but the floods ended and they no longer served any use after knowing what the maximum amount of damage was they were dealing with, drones grounded.

     

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  149.  
    identicon
    Frenchfarmer, Sep 20th, 2013 @ 9:03am

    Drones refused permission to help flood victims.

    As my Dad used to say
    "The bigger the badge the smaller the man.'
    He didn't mean height.

     

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  150.  
    identicon
    lol ur funny, Sep 20th, 2013 @ 9:50am

    Re:

    falcon UAV was volunteering, not profiting. did you actually read the article?

     

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  151.  
    icon
    xanthaos (profile), Sep 20th, 2013 @ 3:23pm

    Oblivious

    It truly amazes me how fervently some people will argue a point while being completely oblivious to what it is they are arguing. Perhaps some enlightenment is in order for this dark path...

    First of all, regardless of who it was, be it FEMA or the FAA, they were in all rights to lock down the airspace. Here is why. Emergencies and disasters are already a breeding ground for unknowns, and as anyone who understands basic math can tell you, you can't solve anything with unknowns. For Falcon to just show up and want to start putting their technology in the air becomes an unknown.

    Disaster response is not something that just happens. Organizations such as FEMA and associated organizations practice and drill year-round for these events. They run tabletop scenarios, have resource assignment and mapping, and put those paper plans into play in real-world exercises. So when Falcon comes along and starts putting their birds in the air, these devices do not fit in with the practiced plans. Pilots don't know that they are there, and in the rigors of trying to fly in rain and wind the UAV's are difficult to see. It's asking for the UAV to become rotor mince.

    Falcon was shut down because of that one fact: they were an unknown that could potentially complicate a situation already filled with enough unknowns. I understand that Falcon only wanted to help and I applaud this, but I also question this as being their motive. If Falcon truly had an interest in humanitarian uses for their devices, why were they not offering their technology to FEMA for Free before such emergencies occurred? Why was Falcon not at the last tabletop exercise, or at the last drill? Why did Falcon not devote time and resources to training and preparation just like everyone else did?

    It seems more to me that Falcon saw a press opportunity. They saw the chance to stamp their UAV ads with "The UAV that worked the Colorado Floods..." and went for it. PR, plain and simple. The way to tell if I am wrong or not is if Falcon does indeed start contributing time and resources to tabletop exercises and real-world drills. If they are willing to go through the whole process for "free" then perhaps they are sincere. I guess we'll see...

    And frankly all of this governmental bashing and personal bashing in here, is any of it, even one person, based on either experience or training in emergency management? Does anyone else here truly see why Falcon can't just drop in at the last minute and be a planned asset? It's the same reason that ham radio operators can't expect to do it either. Hams have to train regularly and attend exercises in order to be ready to serve. Moreover their role within an emergency is already clearly defined and therefore ceases to be yet another "unknown". Finally, they truly do serve for "free", as federal law prohibits them from accepting any sort of financial recompense for their service. And even though they can't get paid and likely won't get more than a two or three word mention in any press coverage, they continue to train and attend training year-round. Where is Falcon?

    Perhaps if people were to take time to look at this from an objective point of view rather than their own narrowly-biased viewpoints they would see the obvious. It's simple math: you have to eliminate unknowns to solve the equation.

    Oh, and to Anonymous Coward: FEMA wants civilians to die? Can you please provide some hard documented evidence of this? And if you truly feel that the federal government wants you to kill over and become a statistic, I recommend choosing another landmass where FEMA isn't involved...

    And before you even ask, I am not a FEMA or government employee of any kind... I'm just a regular joe. A regular joe that happens to have emergency management training and a shred of common sense...

     

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  152.  
    identicon
    MDK THOR 221, Sep 20th, 2013 @ 4:54pm

    Response to: kenichi tanaka on Sep 16th, 2013 @ 1:05pm

    It said the services were being offered for free. So how was Falcon UAV going to make a profit? Also if they were already there and capable providing the type of services that would save lives, why hamper it? Oh wait, I know why. Because somebody with more than one brain cell had already stepped up to help.

     

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  153.  
    identicon
    Anon, Sep 22nd, 2013 @ 6:15am

    Response to: kenichi tanaka on Sep 16th, 2013 @ 1:05pm

    Where you live drugs must be pretty good. Cause you're off in Lala land.
    FEMA has THE WORST track record of any agency in the government. They sat on their asses for Katrina. The two hurricanes in The northeast they did nothing for three years.
    They are offing Americans in record times.
    A private contractor wanted to make money? They specifically said "FREE" . So they generate some publicity for themselves. No big deal. They could have SAVED HUMAN LIVES. But according to you " oh god forbid we hire someone who is a private company" obviously the Feds couldn't handle the situation(surprise!!)

    Quite frankly your reasoning sucks

     

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  154.  
    identicon
    Judy, Sep 22nd, 2013 @ 7:23pm

    Re: kenichi tanaka

    You might have more information, but the article above and the website of the Falcon UAV company state that this was being done on a volunteer basis, as the company is located in this hard-hit area of Colorado. You know, helping your neighbors? I don't see where you are getting the "profit" motive. The article also states other private aircraft and helicopters were on hand and were allowed to volunteer, just NOT the drones. So, there must be a different motive.

     

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  155.  
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    nasch (profile), Sep 22nd, 2013 @ 7:49pm

    Re: Re: kenichi tanaka

    What is it about this article that makes people reply to this guy without reading any of the other 30 comments saying the same thing? I've never seen it happen to this extent with any other article on here, and it's still happening after almost a week. Weird.

     

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  156.  
    icon
    xanthaos (profile), Sep 23rd, 2013 @ 5:38am

    Isn't enough enough?

    Seriously, has anyone bothered to read the preceding post, or was it simply too detailed or too truthful? Let's recap:

    Disasters and emergencies are filled with unknowns. Regardless of how much any particular agency, FEMA included, practices their scenarios and plans, there will invariably exist conditions which occur that are not covered by the plans. Does this mean that FEMA is ill-prepared or wants people to die? Let's look at another agency that faces the same problem: EMS. When responding to medical or trauma emergencies, nearly none of them are textbook. Regardless of the years of experience, countless hours of drills and training, and years of schooling that a paramedic has, they will rarely encounter any two patients that are either identical or "textbook". Because of this invariable problem of unknowns, patients do sometimes die, despite the best efforts of the paramedic. And it happens often. Does this mean that paramedics want people to die? NO. I am speaking from experience as I was a paramedic for several years. Poop happens.

    Variables and Unknowns. It is these conditions that make an emergency an emergency. If all of the factors were known and there existed no variables or unknowns, then there would be no emergency since any agency could simply follow the playbook and everything would be fine. Cause-effect. Problem-solution. 1+1=2. I challenge you to show me how Katrina or Colorado is so cut and dry. Show me that there are no variables or unknowns. It's simple math: the more unknowns you have, the more difficult the equation is to solve. Emergencies are the same way. FEMA, EMS, ARES, RACES, MARS, Fire Departments, National Guard, and every other involved agency understands the same fact. That is why they devote time to attending planning, exercises, and drills, so they are not unknowns. They know exactly what their role is, who they report to, and how things are to be accomplished. In this way they become part of an integrated team that is working together in roles that don't have to be carved out at the last minute. Everyone has a job and they know exactly what that job is. They also know how their job will affect the jobs of the other players. Paramedics and fire fighters know that they will need assistance from private construction companies (those that have attended the exercises) to clear heavy debris and remove hazards so they can safely reach the patients. And these construction company heavy equipment operators know that they will be making it possible to get to victims. They've even practiced working in tandem so that the job can be done safely even when both the equipment and paramedics are in the same place at the same time.

    I'm not against private organizations wanting to help with disaster and emergency situations, in fact I'm all for it. The UAV's would have been a highly valuable asset in Colorado. First of all they would have allowed FEMA to keep some or even most of the rescue helicopters staged on the ground, which would have saved fuel and also presented less of a risk to the lives of the pilots and crews. The UAV's could have also been used to assess the areas into which the helicopters would have to fly, pointing out hazards and even determining which helicopter would be best suited to that environment. These are just a few of the benefits that the UAV's could offer, but only if they are an integrated part of the plan. Having Falcon work side by side with FEMA BEFORE an incident gives the UAV pilots experience in what FEMA will be looking to know. It would also give FEMA experience with the capabilities of the UAV's and the pilots.

    Why is this so hard to see? The airspace had already been restricted yet Falcon chose to say "who gives a rip" and fly anyway, and everyone here wants to say that FEMA is evil and wants to watch people die? Falcon blatantly ignored a no-fly order and made no prior efforts to offer their services during the planning and training that takes place before an emergency; does this sound like a team-playing organization? Everyone wants to say that FEMA is operating for their own secret people-killing agenda, but nobody wants to recognize that Falcon was trying to operate "lone wolf" by their own personal agenda? It seems to me that if FEMA wanted people to die there's much better ways to accomplish this besides committing huge amounts of time and effort to saving lives: like not showing up at all.

    I hope that someone from Falcon reads this because I offer this challenge: If you are serious about wanting to offer your equipment, pilots, and services free of charge to public service, then begin coordinating with FEMA. Present them your offer. Have your execs, pilots, engineers, and other personnel undergo training in Incident Command and National Response Framework. Attend meetings, planning sessions, exercises, and drills. By doing this then FEMA will certainly be able to utilize your capabilities in future disasters, as a part of a coordinated team-effort to save lives.

    And to the folks here who repeatedly keep saying that FEMA wants people to die, I say back it up with something concrete. Show us, in documented form, where FEMA says that they want, prefer, or need a body count. Otherwise such claims begin to border on defamation of character and slander.

    I can assure you, however, that this isn't the case. The entire purpose of FEMA is to help in times of disaster and to save lives. And just like paramedics, they can't save every single person. Some will die despite their best efforts. But it is NOT because they wanted it to happen.

    I think enough is enough, and enough groundless and factless bashing has occurred. The government isn't some evil beast that kills its own people for its amusement. But if you think it is, then perhaps you'd prefer the friendlier climate in North Korea, Syria, China, the Middle East, or somewhere else like this that goes above and beyond to cherish the life of every single one of their dear citizens.

    Like I said, enough is enough...

     

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  157.  
    identicon
    Anonymouse, Sep 27th, 2013 @ 11:55am

    Re: Re:

    Ah folks, you can "register" a toaster with the FAA. What's needed by Falcon (and similar) is a civil airworthiness certificate, which they don't have.

     

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  158.  
    identicon
    James K., Oct 3rd, 2013 @ 9:19am

    Re:

    I would tend to agree with you except for the part they are offering the services for free and have already coordinated with local LEOs and government officials.

     

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  159.  
    identicon
    Steve Fitzgerald, Nov 7th, 2013 @ 8:44am

    An evacuee prospective

    I never respond to these type of posts but this topic I'm very interested in. I'm from Pinewood Springs, CO as far as I can tell I was the last one evacuated from Pinewood Springs by a Blackhawk helicopter. I stayed until all but a couple of neighbors in Kiowa Island, (our bridge collapsed separating us from the rest of the community) evacuated.
    I have been flying RCs for over 35 years, I have a pilots license (not current) I've worked with the FAA at Denver Center as a software engineer for 12 years. Recently I've worked for Honeybee Robotics as a Facility Manager and fabricator who is working on some UAV projects. I feel I have a very unique perspective on this matter.
    When all these comments on the were being made on the 16th I was on my dirt bike trying scouting out an evacuation route for families with farm animals, chickens, goats, etc. Neighbors were told they were not allowed on the Chinooks. I found an old stagecoach route from 36 to Spring Gulch went down Spring Gulch and found the Apple Valley bridge still standing made it into Lyons and went to talk to the fire chief, we briefed each other I showed him the route I took and remember his last words to me 'we're stretched thin, (in Lyons) you guys are pretty much on your own up there' that was all I needed to hear you might think that was disheartening but information is gold and now I knew the truth finally someones telling me the truth, I was delighted at that. Not that the Pinewood Springs fire department was lying to us but they were pretty much saying whatever they needed to get people to evacuate, they did a good job of this and they were right in doing so.
    During that time the area looked like a war zone Chinooks and Blackhawks flying low level all over, it was an amazing site to see you never see many aircraft around here but to see so many flying at low level like this was something words can't describe.
    I have a huge interest in UAV flight and am working on my own projects in the area, if you have an some unquie information in the field please contact me. Anyway, imagine piloting during that day your looking out for the terrain other aircraft, paying attention to instruments, navigating and now you need to worried about a small UAV crashing through the windshield of the chopper your flying? The damage was already done, people needed to be evacuated, you try living without power, water, phone, internet, any communication of any kind. You look into your neighbors eyes and see their fear of not knowing what comes next. Then you'll realize mapping can be done after all is safe. People were doing things they are not used to and the fear of someone getting hurt was very real, and you don't want to get hurt when your not sure you can get medical response in a timely manner.
    Sure you can say that maybe a UAV could've spotted some evacuee but at what cost. aircraft with people on board an aircraft are far more likely to do a much better job of spotting what needs to be done than a little camera on a UAV…sorry its the truth!
    Don't get me wrong I am a believer in UAVs and what they can do and the cost saving that can be achieved but when you get right down to it, do you want to be on that chopper as a passenger with who knows how many UAVs flying around at low level, think about that, I know I don't.
    All in all, FEMA did an outstanding job, its hard to me to say a government entity did a good job but I don't think if I ran the outfit that I could have done the job they did, I'm proud of them. The National Guard, I've never really understood what the did, now I'm embarrased at myself for not serving in the National Guard, those guy are amazing, and dare I say it make me proud to be an American again.
    In this day and age in America I am disgusted with our bought out politicians, scum of the earth in my opinion. But they will never be able to put down the American spirit of the common people, and the common people will always rally when disaster strikes…hopefully you'll never have to experience a natural disaster or any other disaster, but if you do I'll be there for you through FEMA and the National Guard the greatest concepts of government I've ever known.

    Steve Fitzgerald

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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