It’s the Wild West above our heads as more and more drones, flown by hobbyists as well as
commercial enterprises, take to the skies. As the number of drones grows, so does the list of crazy things people have attempted with these remote-controlled devices.
Headline-grabbing incidents of near collisions with airplanes led the Federal Aviation Administration to issue a public awareness campaign called “Know Before You Fly” last year to educate drone jockeys on how to fly these unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) safely. The campaign reminded novices to steer them away from aircraft and no-fly zones, avoid crowds of bystanders, fly below 400 feet at all times and operate while sober.Getting up-close and personal with endangered sheep and other wildlife. In 2014, a visitor at Zion National Park in Utah used a drone to get a close-up photo of an endangered Big Horn sheep. Unfortunately, the flying device terrified the younger sheep, which separated from their mothers, according to park officials. (It’s illegal to fly a drone in a national park and can result in up to a $5,000 fine.)
“Animals can be injured when attempting to escape or avoid drone activity,” wildlife biologist Cassie Waters told Fox13 News in Salt Lake City. “Drones can also change the natural behavior of wildlife and lead to unnecessary energy expenditures.”
Officials from Yosemite National Park in California said people were using drones to film mountain climbers, risking damage to peregrine falcons in nests on granite cliffs.
Using drones as flying drug mules. Amazon’s proposed Prime Air System aims to deliver packages using drones, but apparently drug cartels are also toying with the idea. Earlier this year, a drone carrying a 6-pound cargo of crystal meth crashed into a supermarket parking lot in Tijuana, according to CNN
Flying one into a hot spring. Flying a drone near a national landmark can result in both fines and the loss of your UAV, as one Dutch tourist can attest, according to the BBC. The National Park Service fined the tourist $3,000 after he accidentally crashed the drone into Yellowstone National Park’s Grand Prismatic Spring, which at 121 feet deep is the nation’s largest hot spring. The National Park Service says they left the drone in the hot spring out of fear that a recovery attempt may result in further damage to the natural wonder.
Knocking people down. In April 2014, a triathlon athlete in Western Australia was knocked down by a drone and suffered a head injury, according to ABC News. The woman told ABC that the drone caused a “number of head injuries and required three stiches.”
A similar mishap was videotaped at Virginia’s Running of the Bulls when a drone crashed into a crowd during the event..
Dropping by the White House. An off-duty employee from a government intelligence agency was reportedly drunk when he flew a drone chopper near the White House and crashed it on the lawn, according to The New York Times. Officials described the incident as nothing more than a drunken misadventure, but the incident did raise alarms since the drone evaded White House radar.
In a separate incident, a 39-year-old man was cited for allegedly flying a drone near the White House in May,CNN reported. The White House was placed on lockdown — and the man was arrested.
Flying them into reporters. It was a marketing gimmick — using mistletoe-carrying drones at a TGI Fridays restaurant in Brooklyn to encourage diners to kiss. But it ended in a PR crash and burn. During a party in December 2014, a drone flew into a reporter’s face, reportedly cutting off the tip of her nose and slicing her lip. At one point, she feared the device might cut her eye, according to the Daily Mail. Fortunately, the drone had propeller guards, which helped prevent more extensive injuries, according to the report.