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.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    Michael, Jul 21st, 2014 @ 10:12am

    Hope he didn't fly it over any crops that need to be watered.

     

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  2.  
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    pegr, Jul 21st, 2014 @ 10:27am

    Renaming doesn't change anything

    These aren't drones. These are model airplanes like those that have been made for the last 40 years. There is absolutely nothing new about them, except what people are strapping to them (cameras, bombs, etc.).

     

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  3.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 21st, 2014 @ 10:36am

    Unless this drone was very high, only the landowner has jurisdiction. "[A landowner] owns at least as much of the space above the ground as he can occupy or use in connection with the land[, and invasions of that airspace] are in the same category as invasions of the surface" (U.S. v. Causby).

     

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  4.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 21st, 2014 @ 1:38pm

    Actually, I think we really need some information on what exactly is the difference between a Drone and a RC aircraft(Heli or plane)
    Is it a drone, if it has a camera attached?
    Or is it a drone if it can fly at X-speed or at X-height?

     

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  5.  
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    Joe Melton (profile), Jul 21st, 2014 @ 2:57pm

    Re:

    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.

     

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  6.  
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    Shawn, Jul 21st, 2014 @ 4:09pm

    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.

     

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  7.  
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    Uriel-238 (profile), Jul 21st, 2014 @ 4:36pm

    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".

     

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  8.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 21st, 2014 @ 4:38pm

    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.

     

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  9.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 21st, 2014 @ 5:30pm

    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.

     

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  10.  
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    Bpat, Jul 21st, 2014 @ 5:53pm

    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.

     

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  11.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 21st, 2014 @ 6:41pm

    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."

     

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  12.  
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    Andy, Jul 21st, 2014 @ 8:13pm

    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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  13.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 21st, 2014 @ 8:23pm

    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.

     

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  14.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 23rd, 2014 @ 8:57pm

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

    Mass times velocity vs material strength of the aircraft? Usually the aircraft loses. Look up the rubber chicken cannon the military uses to test canopies in fighter craft, sometime. Now imagine the much flimsier commercial and civilian versions.

     

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

  15.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 23rd, 2014 @ 8:58pm

    Re: Re: Renaming doesn't change anything

    And I call you on that one. Back in the 80s I flew model rockets with cameras in them. A 110 camera (they still make them and film for them) fits fine in an aircraft and is extremely small and lightweight.

     

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  16.  
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    nasch (profile), Jul 24th, 2014 @ 12:53pm

    Re: Re:

    How likely is it they were taking wedding photos from above 400 feet?

     

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


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