FAA Investigates Congressman's Use Of Drone To Help Videotape His Wedding

from the watching-the-watchers-watching-themselves dept

Drones: they’re a thing. They were once reserved for the military to use to remote control the fiery death of scary people most of us have never met, some of whom may occasionally, ahem, be, you know, American or whatever. Now all kinds of commercial applications are being explored for these sky-borne death-machines, like getting me my damned tacos delivered through the sky, the way God intended. Well, the FAA went all crazy-pants over the idea of businesses using UAVs, which was followed by the NTSB ruling that the FAA had no jurisdiction over commercial drones. Following an FAA appeal, the agency then decided to claim that drones were only for fun, not profit. You know, like sex.

That brings us to today, where we get to read news about the FAA investigating the use of a drone to take sky-recordings of the wedding of a US Congressman who sits on the subcommittee that oversees the FAA.

The agency’s carefully worded statement doesn’t mention Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, D-N.Y., by name, but said it was looking into “a report of an unmanned aircraft operation in Cold Spring, New York, on June 21 to determine if there was any violation of federal regulations or airspace restrictions.”

Maloney has acknowledged hiring a photographer to produce a video of his wedding using a camera mounted on a small drone. The wedding took place in Cold Spring on June 21. Maloney is a member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee’s aviation subcommittee, which oversees the FAA.

Well, if the NTSB can’t get the FAA to calm the hell down about minor commercial uses of drones, darkening the memories of a congressman’s wedding with a pointless investigation sure as hell might. Particularly when that congressman is directly involved in overseeing said FAA. Boys, you may just have bit off a little more than you can chew.

And this all comes off as particularly silly, given that this particular drone is the increasingly common small helicopter with a video recorder attached to it. The chances that this thing is going to interfere with airborne Boeings seem, shall we say, slim.

“On their wedding day, Sean and Randy were focused on a ceremony 22 years in the making, not their wedding photographer’s camera mounted on his remote control helicopter,” Stephanie Formas, spokeswoman for Maloney, said in a statement. Formas, citing the judge’s ruling, said there was “no enforceable FAA rule” or regulation that applied to “a model aircraft like the helicopter used in the ceremony.”

I rather expect that point to be driven home at an upcoming subcommittee meeting.

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Comments on “FAA Investigates Congressman's Use Of Drone To Help Videotape His Wedding”

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Shawn says:

Re: Renaming doesn't change anything

Not true actually, for instance old style model aircraft had no cameras as they were too heavy for the use, as well as the limited range. When you get into bigger model aircraft (people using mini jet engines) they have actual dedicated runways. As a pilot these things are dangerous in the hands of the masses. people don’t think “oh i’ll head to 1,000 feet that will be such a cool shot” meanwhile they are on the approach end of a heavy training airport. I have no problem with responsible people using them in a good way, but don’t let anyone fool you, if these things get hit in the air they can cause a fatal crash.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Renaming doesn't change anything

The people the FAA are banning from using ‘drones’ are the people who are more liable to put more thought into their use, and risks, because they are a tool of their trade. The people who can still fly them include those who think that a shot from however height they can go will be a great idea, because they are flying a toy.

Bpat says:

Re: Re: Re: Renaming doesn't change anything

I agree completely. The person that buys one from an electronics store will fly one over a crowd or up 1000s of feet near an airport.
The people (like me, full disclosure) that have spent time building these ‘drones’, airplane or ‘copter. Don’t want to go anywhere near dangerous areas because we have all cut ourselves on the propellers during tuning.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Renaming doesn't change anything

“don’t let anyone fool you, if these things get hit in the air they can cause a fatal crash.”

This statement is just plain ridiculous. There is not enough mass in the average “drone” to cause a crash (except of the model aircraft). Think about it. There are plenty of objects in the air that have more mass than models. Like birds.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Renaming doesn't change anything

Yes and birds cause crashes. I had one slam into my wing and put a hole in it large enough that I would not have taken off that day due to safety of flight. It’s not about the “mass” of the object. It doesn’t take much foreign debris to cause major issues. Also keep in mind most small aircraft get the air required for an engine to work naturally meaning their are openings that drones can be forced into. And before you say “oh i’m sure they are small” We are trained to check for birds before each flight to make sure they haven’t nested.

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Definition of "drone" vs. "remote control aircraft"

It used to be that drones had some level of autonomy (waypoint navigation, etc.) that differentiated them from RC aircraft. These days, the clueless media lump them all together to sensationalize otherwise boring stories.

Kinda like “Weapons of Mass Destruction” and “Terrorism”.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

The FAA makes it as clear as mud on their UAS FAQ:

Do I need to get approval from the FAA to fly a model aircraft for recreation? No. FAA guidance does not address size of the model aircraft… model aircraft flights should be kept below 400 feet… and are not for business purposes.

Forgive my beating of a popular metaphor to death, but apparently an RC aircraft “looks like a duck, whereas a UAV looks like… a different duck.”

Andy says:

Re: Is it a drone?

It’s a drone if it is operating autonomously to a significant degree. That’s key, and it means operating on a programmed flightpath with little or no intervention from the operator. (This is my opinion. Legal opinion, well, they don’t really have an idea at all, do they?) A quadcopter with a camera on it is nothing more than an RC aircraft with a camera on it.

Height and speed are irrelevant as well, and become an issue because too much height or too much speed can result in a loss of control (although this is something that some semi-autonomous-but-still-not-drone capabilities can correct or minimize).

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