It got me thinking: there are over 200,000 private pilots in the U.S. alone, mostly flying small, single-engine planes.
Me: “Hi, I’m a photographer out at Wendy Park; I’d like to fly a drone out to the lighthouse to get some shots of the skyline.”
ATC: “Well, we’ve got some people practicing right now. How high and how long?”
Me: “Nothing above 100 ft and for about 30 minutes.”
ATC: “Ok, call me back when you’re done.”
Me: “No problem. By the way, did these other guys call you?”
ATC: “What other guys?”
Me: “There’re three other drones here right now, and they’re definitely up above 100.”
ATC: “No, they definitely did not call me. You might want to do me a favor, and tell them where they are and that they need to call me.”
I spoke to the drone users, and they were utterly bewildered. They looked toward the airport, then back at me as I traced the very flight path they were impeding upon in the air with my hand. As I spoke to them a little more, the situation became increasingly clear: these were people who were simply enjoying a nice summer night with some remote control toys.
It got me thinking: there are over 200,000 private pilots in the U.S. alone, mostly flying small, single-engine planes. We’ve talked very little about the relationship between drones and this type of flying.
When we think of drones vs planes, we think of jetliners: the 737s and A320s of the world. There’s a lot of debate over whether a drone even poses a risk to a plane of that size from a physics standpoint; frankly, I’d rather not find out. What I am sure of, however, is the damage an object the size of drone [in this case a bird] can do to a single-engine plane, such as the Piper Saratoga in the video on final approach into Page Field in Ft. Myers, Florida. The strike is at the 1:40 mark
You can’t expect someone with a toy to envision something so extreme as crashing it through the windscreen of a plane…
I was struck by the sincerity of this article. You have to wonder how many times a day scenes like this play out all over the country. The author points out that the type of inexpensive drones being flown rarely come with any kind of safety information… A large portion of the sightings reported to the FAA are from small planes like the one in the video.