Dawn Of The Doakes: Droning On

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

Army helicopter flying over Staten Island had a mid-air collision with a quad-copter (which the media calls a drone).

Civilians are supposed to fly them lower than 400 feet but since there’s no altimeter, that’s hard to gauge.  The helicopter claims they were slightly above that altitude and maybe they were.  The article expresses alarm because bits of the drone wreckage nearly made it into the transmission housing, could have caused catastrophic failure and crashed the helicopter.

The Liberal response, of course, will be to ban anybody from flying anything that might interfere with helicopters, despite the fact that responsible operators know the rules and where to fly.  But Amazon will be sold out in a matter of minutes, as soon as Sheik Mohammad realizes he can bring down Blackhawks with $100 drones operated by children.  The skies above conflict areas will be swarming with them.  Maybe we need a more robust solution?

Joe Doakes

Maybe more, smaller drones to bring the bigger drones down first?

6 thoughts on “Dawn Of The Doakes: Droning On

  1. Maybe more, smaller drones to bring the bigger drones down first?

    Dude, that’s comedy gold right there.

  2. I had been under the impression that most drones are pretty much plastic housings with a couple of motors and batteries. Surprised that they ended up hitting helicopters hard enough to bend metal–I wonder if the rotor of one helicopter threw a motor or battery into the other.

    Easy fix for this, though. End the United Nations; it’s not like they’re doing much worth while.

  3. Civilians are supposed to fly them lower than 400 feet but since there’s no altimeter, that’s hard to gauge.

    I own and fly a unmanned aircraft system (UAS) for recreation. I have one of the lower-end UASs that is subject to Flight Aviation Rules (FAR) part 107– The UAS has to be 0.55-55.0 lbs in weight. While the remote control does not have an altimeter, the smart-phone app I use in concert with my remote control provides back real-time video and data from the UAS, include altitude in feet AGL. The UAS’s on-board GPS serves as a rudimentary altimeter. How accurate that is, I couldn’t tell you. Having spent time at the controls of light aircraft, I’m a firm believer in adherence to the flight rules, and I know of several enthusiast groups in my area that promote responsible ownership, but as we see here, it takes one person with a child-like mentality to spoil everybody else’s fun.

    The FAA provides a smartphone app, B4UFLY, that informs UAS operators whether there are restrictions on flying in a given location. Part 107 states that UAS operators must contact the owner/manager of any airports or heliports within 5 miles of the UAS’s intended flight area and notify them of the particulars. I just checked Staten Island: most of it is covered by 5-mile radi around two heliports. Additionally, there’s a temporary flight restriction (TFR) covering Staten Island, though it looks like the TFR wasn’t in place at the time of the incident.

    Additionally, the firmware on some UASes prevents flight above 400′ AGL (above the “home” point), and I know the firmware on my low-end model prevents takeoff if strict flight restrictions exist. Now, one could hack the firmware on the UAS (quite cheaply and easily, as I understand it), but that’s illegal.

    Some solutions already exist for dealing with a UAS that threatens aircraft:
    – Birds-of-prey have been trained to snatch the suckers out of the air.
    – Water cannons work well on a low-flying UAS
    – Signal jammers can confuse the UAS so that it immediately lands or leads the authorities back to the operator.
    – Special shoulder-mounted launchers can fire a net that can immediately disable a UAS and bring it crashing back to Earth.

  4. bb;

    Having been in the Air Force, I can tell you you would be amazed at the things that will “shell out” a jet engine. The military takes that so seriously that every morning during flight operations, we lined up side by side, no more than a foot between us, to do a FOD (foreign object damage) walk down the flight line.

  5. I wonder, end of helicopter as a fighting resource? I presume odds of targeting and hitting a jet with a drone would be astronomically high, but a heli?

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