back to article Flying Scotsman attacked by drone

Chilling evidence has emerged of trainspotters deploying drone hordes after a UAV collided with the rear carriage of the Flying Scotsman over the weekend. The legendary locomotive - which recently steamed out of a £4.2m refurbishment - was travelling on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway (NYMR) last Sunday afternoon when …

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  1. Just Enough

    The rest of that interview

    Reporter: There might have been children on board who were scared, was there?

    Eyewitness: Um, I suppose so.

    Reporter: I expect they cried and mothers panicked?

    Eyewitness: Well.. I didn't ...

    Reporter: There were children in floods of tears and women screamed as they fled from the whirling blades of the out-of-control drone!! You'll never leave your home again for fear of these airborne dealers of death!!! You demand government action on this menace to family days out!!

    Eyewitness: The tea and scones were nice, though.

    1. Hey Nonny Nonny Mouse

      Re: The rest of that interview

      Well you can't beat a nice cup of tea and a good scone.

      1. Fungus Bob Silver badge

        Re: The rest of that interview

        "Well you can't beat a nice cup of tea and a good scone."

        Sure you can, all you need is a big stick. Although why you'd want to is another question.

    2. NoneSuch
      Facepalm

      It's science!

      Some anonymous drone operator does not understand the basic principles of the Bernoulli Effect, obviously.

      1. toughluck

        Re: It's science!

        Some physicists don't understand it, either. My wife attended a lecture a couple of years ago where the lecturer demonstrated how a water column is attracted by a rod and explained that this is due to an electrostatic effect.

        Unfortunately, nobody in the audience asked him to charge it oppositely and demonstrate how water is repelled or to neutralize the charge and show how water is unaffected.

        1. Uncle Slacky Silver badge
          FAIL

          Re: It's science!

          The water won't be repelled, the molecules will just orient themselves the other way around (water molecules are slightly polarised, hence why it's called a "polar solvent") because their other "end" is attracted to the rod instead. The overall flow will therefore always bend towards a charged rod.

          1. toughluck

            Re: It's science!

            Yeah, but water is deflected with an uncharged rod, too. It's been a while, but as I understand it, this is because the water column pulls air along with it and a rod acts like an airfoil, deflecting air as it moves down and causing low pressure below/downstream from the rod that pulls in air and water towards it, not because of any electric charge present in the rod.

            Even though molecules will be reoriented, the effect on the water column would be negligible, the attractive force is just too low. Otherwise, you could use a suitably large plate to suck up water from a container, or charge a container and cause water inside it to stick.

            1. PNGuinn
              Joke

              "you could use a suitably large plate to suck up water from a container"

              I believe a suitably large cup is more effective.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: It's science!

          The Bernoulli Effect has nothing to do with electrical charges. It is the principle that an object traveling though air or water (or a similar fluid medium) creates lift (Vacuum or a decrease in pressure) when one path of the fluid (the top of the wing) is longer than the other path (bottom of the wing). The fluid moves at different rates to avoid being separated in order to follow the conservation laws of physics. The same thing occurs when the fluid passes between two objects and if they are the right aerodynamic shape the lift (Vacuum) tends to draw the objects together.

          The drone got too close to the train engine and was pulled into the train by the Bernoulli effect.

          1. bep

            Re: It's science!

            Hmm, the last sentence of your post may be correct, but the preceding explication is somewhat dubious I think:

            http://www.abc.net.au/science/articles/2015/11/17/4351644.htm

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: It's science!

            > The fluid moves at different rates to avoid being separated

            How does the fluid on the upper surface know how fast its companion on the lower surface is travelling?

          3. Martin Gregorie Silver badge

            Re: It's science!

            The Bernoulli Effect has nothing to do with electrical charges. It is the principle that an object traveling though air or water (or a similar fluid medium) creates lift (Vacuum or a decrease in pressure) when one path of the fluid (the top of the wing) is longer than the other path (bottom of the wing).

            Two points:

            (1) the air is always separated. There are many wind tunnel pictures using smoke puffs to show that the air flowing over the wing DOES NOT meet up with the air passing under the wing and, doubly unfortunately for the numpties drawing diagrams showing it rejoining and for those who believe them, the air passing over the wing goes much faster than the air on the underside, so the top-side smoke puff is long gone by the time the bottom-side smoke puff gets to the trailing edge.

            (2) If a wing really works because air passing along the longer side sucks while air passing the shorter side doesn't, then by your logic:

            - no aircraft can fly inverted, yet aerobatic planes do it all the time

            - a flat plate wing can't fly at all, yet any sheet balsa toy glider shows this is untrue

            1. Jos V

              Re: It's science!

              Martin, your arguments hold, but it's mostly to do with efficiency and stability.

              Aerobatic airplanes tend to have symmetrical wings, meaning that the profile on the top has the same radius as the bottom. The angle of attack of the air hitting the wing determines the direction of lift.

              You can fly almost any aircraft upside down, but it will do so requiring a lot more power from the engine as most of them will be tremendously inefficient flying this way, producing a lot of drag.

              Yes, you can fly using a barn door, but the problem with that is that using a flat surface for a wing will mean that you can switch from having proper lift to a full-out stall, or "lift" in the opposite direction can happen very abruptly.

              The angle of attack for the airflow on wings with a rounded profile, as you find them on commercial aircraft can vary quite a lot before anything bad happens.

          4. Ian Johnston Silver badge

            Re: It's science!

            Your explanation of the Bernouilli effect is complete cobblers. Why on earth would fluid not want to be separated? Symmetrical aerofoils are often used, and they have exactly the same bath lengths above and below them.

            1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

              Re: It's science!

              > Why on earth would fluid not want to be separated?

              The same reason why water has a memory of the chemicals that used to be dissolved in it[1]..

              [1] That is to say - none at all[2].

              [2] Although there is the argument that surface tension blah blah blah..

      2. Peter Simpson 1
        Thumb Up

        Re: It's science!

        ...does not understand the...Bernoulli Effect

        Well, he does, now!

        :-)

        // expensive or painful lessons are best

      3. Martin Gregorie Silver badge

        Re: It's science!

        ...except that Bernoulli has nothing to do with it. The Bernoulli equations are only applicable to flows of an incompressible fluid, i.e. water, and are not applicable compressible fluids such as air or other gasses. In other words they are a good description of the behaviour or water flowing through a pipe, a venturi, or out through a hole in a tank, but not to an air-stream.

        The Coanda Effect, which describes the way a fluid flowing past a convex solid surface will tend to stick to it, is applicable here because it applies to any fluid, compressible or incompressible, flowing past a convex solid surface. Similarly, its Coanda that describes airflow over the convex top of a wing, not Bernoulli.

        Check the definitions for yourself: even Wikipedia has got this right.

        1. toughluck

          Re: It's science!

          Nope. Coanda effect applies only if water sticks to the rod. If the rod is put next to the water column, but does not touch it, the water is still deflected.

          1. Martin Gregorie Silver badge

            Re: It's science!

            Coanda effect applies only if water sticks to the rod.

            Nope. Coanda applies wherever there's a shear in a moving, compressible fluid. The water column is dragging air, whose other side is sticking to the rod, past it. The shear occurring in that air layer as its dragged past the rod is what deflects the water. Air is a compressible fluid, so the combination of viscosity and shear reduces the pressure in the air mass as it passes the rod and, as a result, the water is deflected toward the low pressure region. If the water stream touches the rod then all the shear is in the water stream. Since water is more viscous than air, of course the deflection is much greater.

            1. Ian Johnston Silver badge

              Re: It's science!

              There are no significant compressibllity effects until you reach M0.5 and even then they are slight. At the speed of a falling water column air is, for all practical purposes, incompressible.

            2. toughluck

              Re: It's science!

              @Martin: Ah, ok. Thanks. That was a bit counter-intuitive. My mistake in bringing this all up, but still, it's not the electric charge that deflects the water column, but Coanda effect. At least we agree on that :-)

        2. Richard Plinston Silver badge

          Re: It's science!

          > The Bernoulli equations are only applicable to flows of an incompressible fluid, i.e. water, and are not applicable compressible fluids such as air or other gasses.

          You are confused.

          It is not "incompressible fluid" but 'incompressible FLOW' that the Bernoulli equations apply to. The fluid may well be 'compressible', such as air, for the equations, and effects, to apply, but the simple equations only give correct answers when the fluid maintains the same density, or the change is very small.

          Derivations work for compressible fluids where the density change is to be taken into account.

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bernoulli%27s_principle

        3. Richard Plinston Silver badge

          Re: It's science!

          > Similarly, its Coanda that describes airflow over the convex top of a wing, not Bernoulli.

          Actually both do. Coanda explains why the airflow follows the wing surface, until it breaks away. Bernoulli explains the air pressure distributions. Newton explains why the aircraft doesn't fall out of the sky.

      4. Spender

        Re: It's science!

        Even people who think they understand the principles of the Bernoulli effect often don't.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The rest of that interview

      Where is the "won't someone please think of the children?" icon?

      1. Swarthy Silver badge
        Childcatcher

        Re: The rest of that interview

        "Where is the "won't someone please think of the children?" icon?"

        You mean this one? --->

      2. Cynical Observer
        Childcatcher

        Re: The rest of that interview

        You mean this one - only available if you have the courage of your convictions....

        Now....

        What were you convicted of ?

    4. Mark 85 Silver badge

      @Just Enough -- Re: The rest of that interview

      I see you have the same reporters that we in the States do... Any thing to sell newspapers*, I guess.

      *Or website advertising.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Ban them, ban them all...

    Have them all put down, deported, in prison etc. etc.

    Unless, of course, the (ultimate) owner is a media corporation using them to snoop on the latest vapid 'celeb', in which case the colour of their pants or the fact that they were sunbathing nude on a private beach surrounded by twelve foot high fences and armed security personnel is a real public interest story and justifies the use of intrusive technology.

  3. Wiltshire

    Any thoughts about how horrendous a head-on collision would have been?

    Flying Scotman, (4-6-2 configuration, Loco weight 96.25 long tons)

    -v-

    Flying Drone, (0FFS configuration, weight < 1Kg?)

    Not exactly an equal contest.

    1. A Non e-mouse Silver badge
      Joke

      Reminds me of the following joke:

      Q - What's the last thing to go through a fly's brain as it hits a car's windscreen?

      A - It's arse

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @A Non e-mouse

        We've got several droning arses at work, all we need to arrange is to have them hit by train's windscreens.

        Anon because the boss reads this and he's the biggest arse of them all ...

        1. Paul Woodhouse

          Re: @A Non e-mouse

          planing on using the chicken gun or just dangling em off bridges?

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Anon because the boss reads this and he's the biggest arse of them all ...

          Robert, please report to the HR office.

      2. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
    2. Paul Woodhouse

      Think of the cost implications

      They'll have to employee someone to scrape all the drones off the front.at every station....

      1. Velv Silver badge

        Re: Think of the cost implications

        "They'll have to employee someone to scrape all the drones off the front at every station...."

        They don't bother scraping off the remains of other flying objects a train hits. And presumably to be mainline certified the windscreens will have been tested with the chicken gun.

        1. David 132 Silver badge
          Happy

          Re: Think of the cost implications

          the windscreens will have been tested with the chicken gun.

          Which, of course, brings to mind the old tale about British Rail testing the chicken gun with disastrous results; the punchline to the story is "You're supposed to defrost the chicken first."

          I'm sure it's an urban myth, but it's still funny.

      2. PNGuinn
        Headmaster

        Re: Think of the cost implications

        "They'll have to employee"

        For that, sir you deserve the job. Securely tied to the front of the engine for the whole journey.

        1. Paul Woodhouse

          Re: Think of the cost implications

          I have to admit, I was amused with all the arguments on spelling before all this that no one had picked up on that.... in fact, I'd just hung up the flame proof suit when I saw your reply :p

      3. brassedoff

        Re: Think of the cost implications

        More likely a volunteer if it's the NYMR

    3. tony72

      Yes, given the resent study saying that drones present minimal risk to aircraft, and how comparatively fragile an aircraft in flight is to a train, I can only imagine how unbothered the Flying Scotsman must feel about a confrontation with a drone. Be unlucky if the drone managed to chip the paint.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        " the resent study"

        That typo has crept in several times recently.

        The spelling for something that has happened in the not too distant past is "recent",

        "re-sent" is "to have dispatched something again"

        "resent" is the feeling of objecting to something said or done.

        1. tony72
          Meh

          Argh. I'm well aware of how to spell "recent" thank you very much, but as I'm never slow to point out such mistakes when others make them, I guess I'll have to take it on the chin, and try not to resent your criticism.

          1. Solmyr ibn Wali Barad

            "I guess I'll have to take it on the chin, and try not to resent your criticism."

            Good sport. Duly upvoted.

            Could have blamed it on the spellchucker, or alien mindrays, or any number of "they bastards" altering your post along the way.

        2. Lord_Beavis
          Joke

          @AC

          " the resent study"

          That typo has crept in several times recently.

          The spelling for something that has happened in the not too distant past is "recent",

          "re-sent" is "to have dispatched something again"

          "resent" is the feeling of objecting to something said or done.

          Maybe we should "resent" that study...

      2. PNGuinn

        @ tony72

        I fully agree that the train's attitude to a drone would have been something like "Ok punk - make my day!"

        I do, however have some concern for the safety of the driver and fireman. Those footplates are open, are they not? Quite funny if the thing flew right into an open firebox - very unfunny if one of the crew got it in the face. Especially if as a result someone left the footplate with the train at speed.

      3. JimC Silver badge

        > Be unlucky if the drone managed to chip the paint.

        You do not want to get into a discussion with the more extremely enthusiastic type of railway enthusiast about paint. Just trust me on this. OK?

    4. Steve Evans

      Unfair fight...

      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.

      1. Mpeler
        Coat

        Re: Unfair fight...

        Ahh, but the headaches, and the men on horseback with spears charging in the background...

        (and the flying Scotsmen with bagpipes droning on ... oh, wait)

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