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Bloke fined £460 after his drone screwed up police chopper search for missing woman

Semtex451 Silver badge
Alien

He flew it there thinking there may have been a road accident.

WTF? Was it going there to airlift the injured to hospital?

What a planet.

Anonymous Coward
Anonymous Coward

I guess it's the new rubbernecking...

Voland's right hand Silver badge

I guess it's the new rubbernecking...

Indeed. The legislation remains weak though.

Obstructing emergency vehicles on the road can be prosecuted as dangerous/reckless driving as well as a whole raft of offences. If you do that ON the road the maximum penalties can be measured in YEARS and an unlimited fine. Compared to that the applicable parts of the legislation look fairly feeble.

Someone Else Silver badge

At least...

...it won't tie up the motorway with rubbernecking fools ruining everyone else's commute

Wzrd1

He flew it there thinking there may have been a road accident.

WTF? Was it going there to airlift the injured to hospital?

What a planet.

And I've long considered going through the aggravation and nuisance of purchasing a drone, launching it and reconnoitering the route to work.

Fortunately, I'm not in the UK, where doing so could turn into a felony.

Andytug

Google Maps does it for free...

Satellite photos, street view and real time traffic info. No need for a drone whatsoever.

Anonymous Coward
Anonymous Coward

"And I've long considered going through the aggravation and nuisance of purchasing a drone, launching it and reconnoitering the route to work.

Fortunately, I'm not in the UK, where doing so could turn into a felony."

Fly it over my house, and the paintball gun I have loaded with methyl mercaptan pellets (very useful for discouraging coyotes in my area) would get some more target practice.

Anonymous Coward
Anonymous Coward

F*ck every single flying peeping tom!

Now every asshat think he's entitled to fly a drone anywhere to peep on what's happening, in the sacrosanct name of "journalism". Don't get me started on the Youtube views battle and stuff...

Now get off my lawn's skies, you millennial maggots!

Killfalcon Bronze badge

Re: F*ck every single flying peeping tom!

They're essentially illegal to fly outdoors in towns and cities.

The rules say you can't have a drone within 50m of people of buildings (excluding buildings "you control", I think the wording is, which is why drone racing can be legally done), nor can you fly it within 150m of crowds or built-up areas.

There's obviously a band between 150m up and the 400m cap, but how'd you get them there? You want to play with these toys, you need to aska farmer nicely or see if the National Trust will let you fly 'em (I expect they will in some of the less sensitive reserves, but I've not checked).

Marc 13

Re: F*ck every single flying peeping tom!

The NT do not allow "drones", quads or other power aircraft.

They DO allow gliders... and if the glider has a motor/folding prop, the prop needs to be disabled (e.g. elastic band to stop it being used)

Alvar

Re: F*ck every single flying peeping tom!

Height cap is 400 feet, not metres, little to no legal altitude bracket over built-up areas.

Anonymous Coward
Anonymous Coward

Re: F*ck every single flying peeping tom!

Max altitude is 400ft, about 121 metres above ground level, not 400m.

And horizontally not within 150 metres of a congested area or open air gathering of more than 1000 people.

Killfalcon Bronze badge
Facepalm

Re: F*ck every single flying peeping tom!

"Max altitude is 400ft, about 121 metres above ground level, not 400m." - AC

Oh.

Welp, I guess we know which of us would have crashed a probe into Mars...

Antonius_Prime

Re: F*ck every single flying peeping tom!

The correct term used, I believe is "Litho-braking"...

A.P. Veening

Hunting season

When does the season for drones start?

Killfalcon Bronze badge

Re: Hunting season

There's a excellent Defcon 23 talk, "Knocking my neighbours kids cruddy drone offline" pointing out that most of them have a "safe land now" and "return to Home" command you can just broadcast at 'em and make them go sit down.

Phil O'Sophical Silver badge
Coat

Re: Hunting season

most of them have a "safe land now" and "return to Home" command you can just broadcast at 'em

So, finally a reason that not having IoT security is a good thing!

gotes

Re: Hunting season

I'll definitely be checking out that Defcon talk; it starts with "God this talk was fun to make" so hopefully I won't be disappointed.

By the way, "neighbours" is spelt "neighbors" in the title of this talk. You probably just typed it out from memory, so I'll forgive you. I'm British, but generally accepting of American spelling, except perhaps for "Aluminum" - I'm willing to write "sulfur" but y'all had better include that extra i in Aluminium.

No teacher icon as that's for professional Grammar Nazis, though I will think less of anyone who writes "your" when they mean "you're".

JCitizen
Headmaster

Re: Hunting season

to heck with the grammar Nazis; go ahead and use it!

ICPurvis47
Headmaster

Re: Teacher Icon (was Hunting season)

Teacher Icon is actually Jimmy Edwards (actor) starring in an old black and white TV comedy called Whack-O!, based on the shenanigans of the staff and pupils at a fictitious Public School called Chislebury (http://www.bbc.co.uk/comedy/whacko/). Quite what it has to do with being a Grammar Nazi (guilty as charged), I have no idea. Used to be a good laugh, though.

h4rm0ny Silver badge

His explanation was that he saw police lights over the A47 and flew the drone over there in first-person view (FPV) mode, controlling it from his iPad, thinking there may have been a road accident

Any sympathy I might have had for this person vanished at the above. Someone who gets cheap thrills out of the rest of us' tragedies has got off lightly, imo. Hope he's learned his less.

OldCrow
Megaphone

The actual reason for rubbernecking, is the off-chance that the accident DOES have something to do with you. He saw the lights from his home, so he had higher than average reason to believe that he or someone related may be relevant.

Also, if the police had been there for any other reason (and thus not in need of the chopper), then checking out the situation with a drone, as opposed to turning up in person, would have been lauded by most people on the scene as the right choise.

Stevie Silver badge

The actual reason for rubbernecking

Nah, it's prurient interest and nosey-parkerism plain and simple.

Getting rid of this idiotic traffic-jamming practice is one item on a very short list of reasons I can see for virtualizing the view from car windows. No accident/police stop/bloke changing a tire (for fuck's sake), no mile-long tailback on the opposite carriageway of the Long Island Expressway.

(If you are interested, in-fog vision enhancement and heads-up navigation (that blocked lane presents as a simple chicane with no work crew to cause rubbernecking) are the other items.)

It's incredible. You change a tire on the LIE and you have half a million people who need to get a good look because they've never seen such a miraculous sight before. Get rear-ended on the same stretch of road, no-one sees anything.

gotes

@OldCrow

Nonsense. People love to look at wrecked up shit, myself included. Though whilst on the road my focus is most definitely on keeping the traffic moving. If I really want to see it I'm sure there will be a load of portrait videos shot by gawpers posted to YouTube or passed to a local news website (you know, the one with all the trashy ads).

Do you think people watch things like "Top 10 most epic fails" out of concern for a family member?

It's been going on for centuries...

rg287

The actual reason for rubbernecking, is the off-chance that the accident DOES have something to do with you. He saw the lights from his home, so he had higher than average reason to believe that he or someone related may be relevant.

The actual reason for rubbernecking is the exact same reason that public executions were both public and well-attended, often being the social event of the month.

Good old morbid curiosity, we just can't help ourselves.

wolfetone Silver badge

Did they find the woman?

Wayland Bronze badge

No they called off the search to find the drone.

Terry 6 Silver badge

Confiscation

My thought from the headline was "I hope they destroyed his drone". The fine seems tiny otherwise.

They did. Good!

Timmy B Silver badge

Rather it wasn't destroyed.

I have friends that operate a charity that searches for missing people and dogs. They often use a drone, and the "donation" of a second one to use in searching would have been much appreciated.

It'd help me too on the times I'm called out locally to track for them. But certainly not with me flying it - I can't control them things at all!

Terry 6 Silver badge

Re: Rather it wasn't destroyed.

Fair enough. A bit like when cars are crushed for no tax. Wasteful and bad for the environment.

Spazturtle Silver badge

Re: Rather it wasn't destroyed.

"I have friends that operate a charity that searches for missing people and dogs. They often use a drone"

They have no more right to fly drones then this guy does, hopefully their drone is also confiscated and destroyed.

Wayland Bronze badge

Re: Rather it wasn't destroyed.

So the charity using drones has the effect of stopping the police from doing their job, outstanding.

Alan Brown Silver badge

Re: Rather it wasn't destroyed.

" A bit like when cars are crushed for no tax. "

They seldom are. The owner has a chance to pay the fine & get his car back and then the car goes up for auction if he fails to do so. 90% of crushings are old bangers noone in their right mind would want and the remainder are ones the police have decided they want publicity with (or are dangerous mods that can't be allowed back on the road)

Michael Wojcik Silver badge

Re: Rather it wasn't destroyed.

They seldom are

It happens often enough in the US for illegal imports - cars imported in violation of the "Chicken Tax" (a protectionist scheme to keep newer foreign cars out of the US market). You can find articles and videos on various car-enthusiast websites such as Jalopnik.

And it is a waste. If they have to seize the cars (regardless of how stupid the governing statute is), fine. They're nearly always vehicles of interest to enthusiasts, so auction them off to enthusiasts outside the US. They'll probably sell at very low prices (as we see with police vehicle auctions now), but as long as the buyer pays for shipping, who cares?

Wellyboot Silver badge

Priorities

Rubbernecking drone pilot is a F-wit.

But the police helo following the drone home after it left the area seems to be a far lower priority that finding a missing person at night in December.

's water music Silver badge

Re: Priorities

But the police helo following the drone home after it left the area seems to be a far lower priority that finding a missing person at night in December.

I read it as the police choppper headed for home (due to the risk from the unknown drone) and a plod followed the drone on foot to observe where it landed

pɹɐʍoɔ snoɯʎuouɐ
Black Helicopters

Re: Priorities

I read it as the police choppper headed for home (due to the risk from the unknown drone)

this reminds me of section in a book i read once,

Mr. Prosser:

Do you know how much damage this bulldozer would sustain if I just let it roll over you?

Arthur:

How much?

Mr. Prosser:

None at all.

I am almost certain that a helicopter could suffer no damage at all if it was to make contact with a drone... the most vulnerable part of a helicopter has to be the tail rotor and i believe most police helicopters have a fenestron to limit noise, but will also protect it from bird strike or small drones...

but the thing is, its first class pricks like this, and that tit that buzzed the bears on that mountain that was all over the news last week and others that go buzzing over other peoples property that screwing the hobby up for everyone who acts responsibly.

rg287

Re: Priorities

I am almost certain that a helicopter could suffer no damage at all if it was to make contact with a drone...

That depends on a given value of "drone".

A chunky camera rig like a DJI Phantom (the offender in question here) or something carrying a DSLR-class camera with enough mass/inertia for sensibly stable flight in wind and weather could indeed make a mess of a tail rotor.

By contrast a diddly little racing drone would be batted down like a gnat (not that such a thing would be out playing "in the wild" anyway).

Wayland Bronze badge

Re: Priorities

Lack of comprehension. Unless you're joking.

Alan Brown Silver badge

Re: Priorities

"I am almost certain that a helicopter could suffer no damage at all if it was to make contact with a drone.."

Unless it was to somehow get _below_ the drone it's unlikely to make contact.

Rotor wash will pretty much ensure that. US pilots have downed drones using theirs.

acardwelluk

Re: Priorities

Incorrect - there is video footage that shows the helicopter following the drone home. They identified the man's address, sent in ground plod who questioned him and found the drone in the loft hatch above his bathroom. They confiscated the drone and destroyed it.

Johndoe888

I understand there is another DJI Phantom owner being prosecuted, for flying it directly over an airfield.

Anonymous Coward
Anonymous Coward

Perhaps the Police ...

Could offer a bounty on sniping these things from the sky.

With the right radio kit it's possible.

Jellied Eel Silver badge

Re: Perhaps the Police ...

Sadly particle beams aren't a thing. At least not man-portable versions. Accuracy International do make a rather nice rifle in .338

Could be a way to update old phrases, like 'He can shoot a rotor off a DJI at 400m'. AFAIK the police helicopters aren't fitted with kevlar, so there'd still need to be deconfliction..

JohnG Silver badge

Re: Perhaps the Police ...

I think a shotgun would be the right tool for this job, rather than a rifle. Alternatively, eagles are quite effective:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hr-xBtVU4lg

Alan Brown Silver badge

Re: Perhaps the Police ...

"Accuracy International do make a rather nice rifle in .338"

Uh yeah, right.

What goes up, must come down. In this case, ballisiticaly and 1-2 miles from where it was fired.

First rule of gun control: ALWAYS ensure you know where your rounds will end up even if you miss.

On this side of the Atlantic even thinking about taking that shot would cost you your license.

Anonymous Coward
Anonymous Coward

Re: Perhaps the Police ...

Perhaps the police, instead of making a public spectacle of this guy, should realize that they could be doing EXACTLY what he was doing and spending one hell of a lot less $$. If you are looking for a missing person, you don't need a a helicopter in the air at hundreds of pounds per hour when we have something now that works just as well. What I am saying is, for these types of things, DRONES ARE CHEAPER, and maybe even better. I would bet that you could dispatch a fleet of these under computer control and cover 10 times the area of the Helicopter in 1/10th the time AT THE SAME COST.

Version 1.0 Silver badge

“Oh look, there's a drone”

It sounds like the helicopter pilot got bored with looking for the woman and thought it would be much easier to chase the drone. Sure, finding a drone in your flight path is a bother but it's really not that big a deal. Was the pilot worried - no, just got distracted.

Use to be we'd joke, “Oh look, there's a squirrel” ....

Ken Hagan Gold badge

Re: “Oh look, there's a drone”

"Sure, finding a drone in your flight path is a bother but it's really not that big a deal. "

I imagine that getting a Phantom caught up in your own rotor might be fatal and anyone flying directly underneath a Police helicopter just for shits and giggles is clearly an idiot, so the risk of such an accident might seem quite high if you were the pilot.

Mark 85 Silver badge

Re: “Oh look, there's a drone”

I'd think that if the drone were directly under the helicopter, the pilots wouldn't have seen it and also the downwash from the rotor would have created some serious problems for the drone. But still, the drone pilot was an idiot.

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