back to article Obama London visit prompts drone no-fly zone

The Secretary of State for Transport has imposed flight restrictions over London for US president Barack Obama's forthcoming visit to the capital, meaning aircraft including "any small balloon, any kite weighing not more than two kilograms, any small unmanned aircraft and any parachute including a parascending parachute" are …

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  1. Commswonk Silver badge

    Yes but...

    It is perfectly reasonable for the CAA to have issued this restriction, but at the same time the likelihood of the "potential miscreants" even knowing about it is minimal, never mind their taking the trouble to read it and then observe it. Observing it will require their understanding of the coordinates and / or being able to read a map.

    I will not hold my breath...

    1. DougS Silver badge

      Re: Yes but...

      The idea is that the law abiding citizens observe the no-fly zone, so that authorities won't spread their resources too thin investigating whatever might be left. Obviously a no-fly zone won't stop a terrorist intent on flying a drone filled with C4 into Obama's motorcade, but it would be easier to notice and react quickly to if there are only a handful of drones flying about, versus a couple hundred owned by hobbyists who want to overfly his motorcade hoping for a cool picture to post on social media.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Yes but...

      It is perfectly reasonable for the CAA to have issued this restriction, but at the same time the likelihood of the "potential miscreants" even knowing about it is minimal, never mind their taking the trouble to read it and then observe it.

      Ah, but ignorance is no valid excuse, and I'm actually looking forward to getting a couple of these people locked up. Not that I bear them ill will, but the resulting sh*tstorm will be of such epic proportions that it will not only amuse me for days, but more importantly it may actually prompt a proper debate about these things. The black and white, "I want to fly my drone everywhere, even if it means killing 132 passengers" versus "you should be locked up for even thinking about buying one" debate isn't helping to find a sensible, agreeable solution.

      1. Commswonk Silver badge

        Re: Yes but...

        Ah, but ignorance is no valid excuse, and I'm actually looking forward to getting a couple of these people locked up.

        Perfectly true, and so am I in that order. However locking someone up can only follow them being apprehended in the first place, and I would argue that actually catching them will be more reliant on luck than anything else, and a very great deal of luck at that. While the CAA undoubtedly did the right thing by issuing this notice in the end I cannot see it having much effect on the "lunatic" end of the drone - operating spectrum.

        There is little purpose in enacting laws or regulations that for almost all practical purposes cannot be enforced - in fact IMHO it brings the "law" into disrepute.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    any small unmanned aircraft

    I was going to make a (poor) joke about a small surface-to-air drone, but on second thoughts, democracy and (poor sense of) humour don't go together, do they.

    Yes, I'm very, very sorry.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: any small unmanned aircraft

      on second thoughts, the real hassle from the police is not worth even the poorest joke. After all, I'm not a famous comedian from Germany. I recant :(

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: any small unmanned aircraft

      I was going to make a (poor) joke about a small surface-to-air drone, but on second thoughts, democracy and (poor sense of) humour don't go together, do they.

      Not only that, but only the US is allowed to kill people on remote based on nothing more than meta data. They will take a very dim view of anyone trying to reciprocate.

  3. Arthur the cat Silver badge

    any small balloon ... banned from large swathes of airspace below 2,500ft

    So a small child with a helium balloon on a string is in violation of the order? A tad draconian, isn't it?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: any small balloon ... banned from large swathes of airspace below 2,500ft

      It's OK: "any kite weighing not more than two kilograms" is banned, so if you make it large enough and if necessary hang a couple of house bricks on it, you are fine.

      1. Timmay

        Re: any small balloon ... banned from large swathes of airspace below 2,500ft

        @Anon, at first I thought you'd got lost in the double-negatives, but you're quite right, the actual wording of the order says the definition of banned aircraft within it includes "any kite weighing not more than two kilograms", ie. anything more than 2kg. I'd like to see someone contest it in court!

        1. 2+2=5 Silver badge

          Re: any small balloon ... banned from large swathes of airspace below 2,500ft

          @Anon, at first I thought you'd got lost in the double-negatives, but you're quite right, the actual wording of the order says the definition of banned aircraft within it includes "any kite weighing not more than two kilograms", ie. anything more than 2kg. I'd like to see someone contest it in court!

          "not more than two kilograms" == "less than or equal to two kilograms"

          Which means that Milvus milvus, aka the red kite, is also banned. :-)

          1. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken Silver badge

            Re: any small balloon ... banned from large swathes of airspace below 2,500ft

            "Which means that Milvus milvus, aka the red kite, is also banned."

            As would be, ironically, the Bald Eagle.

      2. Rich 11 Silver badge

        Re: any small balloon ... banned from large swathes of airspace below 2,500ft

        if you make it large enough and if necessary hang a couple of house bricks on it, you are fine.

        Or if you have a small kite on a 3000ft line and walk it in from the edge of the area?

      3. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: any small balloon ... banned from large swathes of airspace below 2,500ft

        ""any kite weighing not more than two kilograms" is banned,

        Yes, that. I see similar phrases to that used in relation to rules or the law often enough to wonder if there's some special legal meaning to phrasing it that way as it seem to imply the opposite of the intent. Unless it's just another way to force otherwise law abiding people into becoming unwitting criminals so "they" can officially do away with "innocent unless proven guilty". We are all automatically guilty if the law is convoluted enough that the only way to not break one law is to break another.

    2. Commswonk Silver badge

      Re: any small balloon ... banned from large swathes of airspace below 2,500ft

      So a small child with a helium balloon on a string is in violation of the order? A tad draconian, isn't it?

      If its feet remain on the ground, yes. If said small child becomes airborne (think Winnie the Pooh under his balloon trying to get hold of some honey) then as the restriction is written said small child is fair game.

      Mary Poppins had better watch out as well, even if umbrellas aren't mentioned.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: any small balloon ... banned from large swathes of airspace below 2,500ft

        12. In relation to these restrictions, the term ‘aircraft’ includes aircraft as classified by Part A of

        Schedule 3 to the Air Navigation Order 2009 and also includes, by virtue of article 253(3) of that

        Order, any small balloon, any kite weighing not more than two kilograms, any small unmanned

        aircraft and any parachute including a parascending parachute, as such terms are defined in

        article 255(1) of the Order.

        So large balloons are ok?

        1. SkippyBing Silver badge

          Re: any small balloon ... banned from large swathes of airspace below 2,500ft

          I think it depends what's in Part A of Schedule 3 to the Air Navigation Order 2009, that may already count large balloons, heavy kites etc. as aircraft.

          1. Vic

            Re: any small balloon ... banned from large swathes of airspace below 2,500ft

            I think it depends what's in Part A of Schedule 3 to the Air Navigation Order 2009, that may already count large balloons, heavy kites etc. as aircraft.

            It does

            Part A of Schedule 3 actually defines "kites" as heavier-than-air aircraft, and does not mention mass at all. However, Section 1 clause 253 explicitly exempts kites of less than 2Kg from the ANO; this temporary restriction removes that exemption, which is why kites of 2Kg and more are not mentioned.

            Vic.

        2. hplasm Silver badge
          Happy

          Re: any small balloon ... banned from large swathes of airspace below 2,500ft

          "So large balloons are ok?"

          Motorcade in sight. Deploy the Kill-o-Cat weapon!

      2. Doctor_Wibble
        Coat

        Re: any small balloon ... banned from large swathes of airspace below 2,500ft

        > Mary Poppins had better watch out as well, even if umbrellas aren't mentioned.

        On the other hand it probably qualifies within the description of a parascending parachute so I don't think she gets off quite that easily.

        Additionally, the word 'parascending' does not as far as I am aware limit said motion to the general groundward direction so she's in trouble regardless of whether she goes up diddly up up or down diddly down down.

        What did you expect, it's an article about about Flying Machines! Coat, because it doubles as a glidey suit thing.

        1. hplasm Silver badge
          Happy

          Re: any small balloon ... banned from large swathes of airspace below 2,500ft

          " Coat, because it doubles as a glidey suit thing."

          You are Vector, and I claim my Great Pyramid!

    3. Adam 52 Silver badge

      Re: any small balloon ... banned from large swathes of airspace below 2,500ft

      "small child with a helium balloon"

      There is the option of ringing the Chief Inspector to ask for permission. If only we could arrange for all small children in London and environs to ring and ask!

  4. Marketing Hack Silver badge

    "should enjoy drone-free operations while the Obamas enjoy the Queen's hospitality"

    Unless of course drone-owners try to call El Presidente's bluff, and the skies between London and Windsor Castle are packed with drones, kites and balloons.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "should enjoy drone-free operations while the Obamas enjoy the Queen's hospitality"

      Remember, remember the 5th of November...

  5. Cynic_999 Silver badge

    How about paper planes? How about feeding pigeons (the food will be briefly airborne as it is thrown). Come to that, are the pigeons also grounded between the stated times?

    Anyway, now that I'm not allowed to greet Obama's arrival with a fleet of drones, I'll have to organize a laser light display instead ...

    1. Marketing Hack Silver badge
      Go

      "I'll have to organize a laser light display instead .."

      Get some big-ass speakers and a Pink Floyd album to play as an accompaniment!

    2. Vic

      How about paper planes?

      By reading the ANO, you could determine that your paper plane strawman argument bears no relevance to the discussion.

      Vic.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        "By reading the ANO, you could determine that your paper plane strawman argument bears no relevance to the discussion."

        What about

        Paper

        Aeroplane

        Released

        Into

        Space?

    3. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      "Come to that, are the pigeons also grounded between the stated times?"

      What about bats armed with phosphorous bombs?

      1. harmjschoonhoven
        Mushroom

        @John Brown (no body)

        What about bats armed with napalm bombs?

        FTFY

  6. Joe User

    One question

    How are the authorities going to enforce the no-fly restrictions? Do they have a fleet of remote-control Spitfires with BB-guns mounted in their wings?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      1. Commswonk Silver badge

        Re: One question

        Um... Having read the manufacturer's brochure for the Skywall 100 I'm far from convinced that it offers much by way of a solution.

        It claims a 100 metre LOS range, which isn't very much when you think about it; in fact it is less than the 400' maximum height that I believe the CAA allows for "normal" drone use; obviously that limit is irrelevant in the case of the arrival of POTUS. I would also imagine that just spotting a small drone even at 100 metres could be quite difficult anyway, which would render such defensive measures useless.

        It also claims that it Does not affect adjacent aircraft although I would imagine that the potential of a drone plus a slow - falling parachute could very easily affect an adjacent aircraft, depending on how "adjacent" is defined.

    2. MachDiamond Silver badge

      Re: One question

      Most RCMA's work on a known band of frequencies, so jamming those and possibly getting the craft to crash is probably not that hard. Don't try it if your fingerprints are on file. This is one situation where they WILL investigate.

  7. s. pam
    Headmaster

    Tell O'Bomba to stay home

    We don't want him here, we know why he's coming (Brexit begging) and it reminds me of imagery of the Poodle in the George Michael video all over again......

  8. Will Godfrey Silver badge
    Meh

    Dunno Wot The Fuss Is

    Nothing special happening, as fas as I know

  9. Harry the Bastard

    "any kite weighing not more than two kilograms"

    ahhh, so over two kilograms is ok then

    /assembles kilocat-equivalent kite

  10. Mark 85 Silver badge

    Did the rules change?

    Here in the States when El Presidente visited locally (4 years ago), the restrictions were in place for 2 hours before and after arrival and 4 hours before departure. Once AF1 cleared the airspace on departure, all restrictions were lifted. But then, 4 years ago, drones weren't the problem they are today.

    I just find it interesting and perplexing that this restriction applies for the entire time AF1 is on the ground.

    1. Adrian Midgley 1

      so EngSoc can train children

      for everything being forbidden except when it is required.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Did the rules change?

      Where I work, when the famously popular boss visited our site, all the metal cutlery was removed from the canteen and replaced with disposable plastic knives and forks.

    3. imanidiot Silver badge

      Re: Did the rules change?

      The yanks are very protective of AF1 itself as well. Don't want anyone snooping around there either!

  11. chivo243 Silver badge

    Maybe he won't fly...

    On a visit to The Netherlands, he was to travel by motorcade, highways were closed, traffic diverted, and all trees near the highway from Schiphol to The Hague were chopped, clear cut, police posted at every exit. And then, Obama flew by helicopter everywhere... Sad to say there was even a meme showing him and politicians laughing and saying "we had them close the highways, and then we flew."

    Now that the air is being ruled an off limits zone for anything, he will probably ride a scooter, we can hope?

  12. Chris Harden

    I'm insanely excited for his visit!

    His 3 Ospreys buzzed the tower our office is in and I only had my phone to take pictures with, now we get another chance. Those things are beasts!

    Oh yeah, and I guess he is kinda important too?

    *nerd life*

  13. Ilmarinen
    Mushroom

    In the words of the old ditty...

    ... If I had the wings of a sparrow

    and I had the arse of a crow...

    And wouldn't it be dreadful if the good "little people" of London were to celebrate the great visitation with the release of many small balloons and much kite flying ;-)

  14. x 7 Silver badge

    "His 3 Ospreys"

    Ospreys? I thought he was still using those veteran S-61 Sea Kings after he got the contract for the Agusta-Westland AW101 cancelled

    1. SkippyBing Silver badge

      The Ospreys are for his entourage rather than himself. Make of that what you will...

      1. x 7 Silver badge

        "The Ospreys are for his entourage rather than himself. Make of that what you will..."

        safety concerns over the Osprey loss rate. Its high

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Tin Foil Hat Time.

    The only thing that is surprising is that they have not ramped up the investigation or deployed squadrons of highly trained eagles under the guise that the previous drone incident was not just a stray from Maplins, but really a dry run for something more sinister brought to you by ISIL, ISIS, BASIL or whatever made up name we are going with this month.

  16. Herby Silver badge

    So when somebody tells me to...

    "Go fly a kite" I can't do it??

    What about if I blow on a dandelion? Would that be banned as well. Knowing our "El Jefe" I suspect it might be. You know national security and all that..

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: So when somebody tells me to...

      Only if it's a dandelion with terrorist tendencies. Otherwise you'll be OK.

      (and no, I don't know the difference either)

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