back to article Drone bloke cuffed after gizmo stops firemen tackling forest inferno

A man was arrested by officers from the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection after his drone allegedly got in the way of them tackling a major blaze. Eric Wamser, 57, of Foresthill, California, was cuffed on Friday after posting drone-shot footage of the Trailhead Fire, which has burned for three weeks and …

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What a clown... not the funny type, he's more the B-Movie type. I'd almost bet that if someone with a drone prevented firefighters from keeping his house or land safe, he'd be the first idiot filing a lawsuit. I hope they toss his butt in a cell and maybe a nice sized fine to go with it.

Sidenote: If you've ever been around large wildfire, the ground and air crews do a hell of a job in working to contain them and get them out. My hat is off them.

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@Mark 85 - Sooner or later one of these morons will cause the death of someone because they interfered with aerial firefighting. Great footage is not worth someone's life.

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I quite agree. It's one thing to video a parade and quite another where lives are at stake.

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Sounds like nonsense to me

Since when does a 500g cause aircraft to drop out of the sky? And remember that the pilots are also equiped with eyes. And how was one aircraft, drone or otherwise, blocking the entire area?

We do not know the details, but this sounds very much like the way airports are shut down if somebody farts. Total over reaction for largely political reasons.

(And I am an amateur pilot, mainly gliders, so I know how to keep watch. There are birds up there as well, some of which attack!)

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Re: Sounds like nonsense to me

Birds get out of the way if they know you're there, not compete for airspace. I don't know the spec of the copter in question, but 500g sounds quite lightweight to have any kind of range or be able to carry any camera worth using. Either way, I'm not sure I'd want one hitting the wing tip of my helicopter as I'm focusing on delivering a payload at a very specific location, by definition over fire, and flying very close to the ground with no reaction margin.

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Re: Sounds like nonsense to me

@aberglas. I too held a private pilots license (about 10 years ago mind) and you as well as i know the action to take on final approach if there are obstructions such as large birds or drones.

Now imagine you are lined up to drop a load over a specific area flying very low at specific speeds to cover an area. If you go around and the drone is still there waht do you do? Can you safely land with the payload? Do you drop in a siboptimal location?

Drone pilots are putting the lives of these pilots at risk and wasting valuable time.

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Re: Sounds like nonsense to me

No edit button today. Oh and as a glider pilot you will also appreciate the thermal turbulence that a helicopter pilot will be dealing with whilst flying slowly over an active fire. Dodging drones will not be something they will want to do.

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Re: Sounds like nonsense to me

I dunno hard crunchy metal and plastic things to hit, engine parts not designed for hard and crunchy plastic things inside them, fire below.

Not a clue what the danger is at all.

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LDS
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Re: Sounds like nonsense to me

Drones are far "harder" than birds. And far smaller than gliders. And in situations like these also piloted by selfish morons.

A drone hitting your windscreen, or ingested by a turbine, or damaging something critical, is not what you wish when flying in an already dangerous situations, and your eyes are already very busy in keeping your flight path over very hot air to target the required drop area. Those pilots are not flying for fun.

And about weight, remember what destroyed the Concorde taking of from Paris. A small metal stripe. It damaged a tyre which in turn damaged the engines. Enough speed, and even a 500g hard enough item is very dangerous.

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Re: Sounds like nonsense to me

@aberglas

So if you're a pilot, consider this:

You're trying to fly a heavily laden aircraft on a precise course at minimum altitude through turbulent air at damn near stalling speed, with flaps and everything else hanging, and then some idiot flies a drone at your windscreen. Do you think sudden avoidance manoeuvres are going to result in

a/ missing the drone and continuing as normal.

b/ crashing into the flames.

Just asking?

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Re: Sounds like nonsense to me

You might be an amateur pilot - as am I, though we call them private pilots here - but you don't seem to know much about physics. Quite a lot of energy will be expended crashing into a 500g drone at 100knots.

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Re: Sounds like nonsense to me

There are birds up there as well, some of which attack!

The thing is that birds DO NOT fly over burning areas, they get away as far as they can, a drone does not.

While you as a glider pilot might love flying over a forest fire because of the thermals just think of the pilots that have to run it low and in a specific direction and speed over those flames to deliver their load of water and/or chemicals effectively, not an easy task in those thermals and then a stupid drone appears just as they are dropping their load.

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Re: Sounds like nonsense to me

Since when does a 500g cause aircraft to drop out of the sky? And remember that the pilots are also equiped with eyes. And how was one aircraft, drone or otherwise, blocking the entire area?

It could easily down a helicopter with a rotor strike.

Fixed wing is less likely to down it (unless it went through an engine whilst the aircraft was fully laden. Air tankers are massively overpowered once empty but underpowered when full), but even if you only caused minor fuselage/wing damage and didn't ruin an engine, that's going to be enough to render the aircraft U/S once it lands, removing it from operations for 24+ hours when it should be flying.

Also, the firefighting community is particularly tetchy about air tankers because they've had a few too many of these types of incidents in the past 20 years or so.

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Joke

Re: Sounds like nonsense to me

@Ivan4 :

If I were coming in low over flames, to deliver a load of water and/or chemicals effectively, and then a stupid drone appeared right in front of me, I would definitely drop my load.

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Re: Sounds like nonsense to me

Aberglas, is this you?

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-kent-36818899

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Sounds like nonsense to me

You might be an amateur pilot - as am I, though we call them private pilots here

No, no, you'll definitely call him an amateur..

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Re: Sounds like nonsense to me

Where's the 'put my head in my hands' icon? #icant

Please tell me this guy is not being serious. Please.

Gliders != helicopters/turboprop/turbofan planes with sensitive equipment that does not like being collided into by something made from steel/aluminium alloy/titanium alloy/composite... Perhaps that's something for GE, P&W, CFM International, Snecma, Rolls Royce et al to add to their engine tests (in addition to the 20lb turkey gun): "Ingested DJI Phantom 4" "All blades ok" "No engine fire" *ticks boxes*

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Re: Sounds like nonsense to me

Yes. despite a zillion down votes it mostly is.

If you took for example an RC model car and a real car on a football pitch how easy would it be to hit the RC car even if you were trying?

It isn't 1 football pitch is it hundreds and there is an extra dimension. I would lay odds that a helicopter pilot couldn't hit a drone (that didn't want to be hit) if he tried.

Then if by some minor miracle there was a collision there is nowhere on a helicopter a lightweight drone hit would cause fall out of the sky type damage.

The risks are microscopic. A pilot is more likely to be killed driving to the airfield than by a drone strike and much more likely to be killed by helicopter mechanical failure.

That doesn't mean the risk should have to be taken, drone flight should be restricted in these circumstances, especially as a large number of drones would disproportionately increase the risk.

As the op said the claim we had to stop fighting the fire because of this drone is nonsense - about as nonsense as claiming they had to stop because the pilot was too scared to drive to the airfield.

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Re: Sounds like nonsense to me

These pesky drones might be small but one could easily break off your Airspeed Indicator sensor.

Fuck flying in that sort of environment with a U/S ASI. Not a problem in normal conditions but in that sort of air conditions????

If I was one of the pilots, I'd want to lynch that drone operator. Failing that send him on a road gang for 5 years.

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Re: Sounds like nonsense to me

" to hit, engine parts"

Helicopters generally do not have forward facing turbine air intakes that things can fly into. Some even have full blown air filters to prevent dust hitting engine parts.

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Re: Sounds like nonsense to me

"...Since when does a 500g cause aircraft to drop out of the sky? And remember that the pilots are also equiped with eyes. And how was one aircraft, drone or otherwise, blocking the entire area?..."

Ever seen FOD? Foreign Object Damage? You have to remember that helicopters are powered by jet engines. effectively.

Suck half a kilo of metal and plastic into something that is spinning at serveral thousand RPM and the result isn't going to be pleasant.It only takes one turbine blade to throw a piece of itself and you have a catastrophic failure..one piece gets sucked into the rest and boom!

Think it's easy to spot a drone when you're also concentrating on the job of flying? Over a large fire? Christ, the thermals from the ground are enough to keep a glider aloft so imagine the forces from fires and the winds they cause.

Next time instead of spouting off, try and do a bit of research. You look a bit less of a plum that way.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Sounds like nonsense to me

Most people fly the DJI (or biggger) and that weighs 1 kilo, not 500 grams. It's definitely possible for it to take down an aircraft.. You're a fool and amateur as you have pointed out.

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/content/dam/news/photos/000/732/73268.jpg

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Sounds like nonsense to me

"Since when does a 500g cause aircraft to drop out of the sky? "

How about when it gets sucked into an engine or damages a propellor? Or smashes through through the cockpit window of a fast-moving aircraft?

Have you had an imagination bypass?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Sounds like nonsense to me

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/content/dam/news/photos/000/732/73268.jpg

Sjeez, was that because of a drone? How did this plane manage to stay in one piece whereas (judging by the, er, "residue" on all surfaces) the pilot probably did not? Would like to read the story that belongs with that image..

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Re: Sounds like nonsense to me

I don't think your analogy of the cars on the pitch with extra dimensions is a useful one. It's a constrained space with maneuverability issues, and no vortices, etc. Driving on the centre spot doesn't affect the penalty box, whereas with the huge downdrafts from the chopper and thermal updrafts from the hot land, plus localised eddies caused by the combination mean the bodies are loosely coupled if in proximity. Especially both are aiming towards the same area where the fire is. They are in contention for airspace, so the analogy is more like both cars being in the penalty box - on a trampoline/rubber sheet.

Another significant difference is that driving over a remote controlled car is a $100 annoyance, sucking a drone into your powerful helicopter jet at low altitude above fire is $1M, a life guaranteed lost, and the damage caused by trying to rescue the body, plus the extra aviation fuel exacerbating a fire you can no longer extinguish.

This is why I don't think it's a useful comparison.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Sounds like nonsense to me

Got it - the feathers stuck to the hole gave it away. Which means the blood is a pigeon or something, but I never knew they could crash through the window (after a search it appears it's not as impossible as I thought. Wow.).

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@Alister -- Re: Sounds like nonsense to me

You also need to add in the terrain where most these aircraft are flying at low altitude. It is seldom "flat".

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Re: Sounds like nonsense to me @inmypjs

Generally speaking on risk assessments, increased chance of hitting an object that will cause vehicle and pilot to plummet to inferno below, tends to count as a no no.

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Re: Sounds like nonsense to me

When they impact the rotors, that is when, you moron. As to keeping an eye out for them these people have a hard enough job as it is without having to deal with the likes of you.

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Re: Sounds like nonsense to me - not

One of those fellows goes into an intake and they do easily as much damage as a bird. Also, unlike a glider, a helicopter without power comes pretty much straight down. Even if it can autorotate to a walk-away landing, you really don't want to do that in a big fire.

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Re: Sounds like nonsense to me

"Helicopters generally do not have forward facing turbine air intakes that things can fly into"

You really can't be serious. Please take a moment to look at images of helicopters fighting fires [try Google] and count on one hand the copters that DO NOT have visible turbine intakes with fans facing forward. The filters ideally will stop dust from entering, but consider hard parts of drones instead, interacting with the compressor blades. Even if the copter was safely flown back to an air field, the damage to those blades puts the vehicle out of use for probably days in any forward fire fighting situation. While it certainly would be easier on the pilot, the fire fighting would suffer nearly the same degradation as if the copter crashed. I say "nearly" because only the copter has to be replaced on the line.

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Glames?

"flying his drone over the glames" - I've of glades, glamours,glares, but glames has me beat. Or is this some New Millenia term?

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Re: Glames?

f and g are very close on a standard qwerty layout...

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Re: Glames?

"Or is this some New Millenia term?"

glames looks like a typo. Millenia looks like someone thought that Millennia is singular, and then forgot how to spell.

Unfortunately, while the article has a link to quietly submit corrections without being snarky, comments do not.

And yes, firefighters get my deepest respect. I used to know a retired smokejumper. Her stories were larger than anything I'm likely to see in this life.

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Re: Glames?

Unfortunately, while the article has a link to quietly submit corrections without being snarky, comments do not.

Pity it is missing spellcheck as well, as the author couldn't even be bothered to do that that either, or the editor ....

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Trollface

Re: Glames?

f and g are very close on a standard qwerty layout...

Remarkably C and H are very close when discussing England's health minister. Funny that

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Re: Glames?

I rather like 'glames' as a word and feel we should henceforth adopt it, perhaps for the flames that are unable to be quenched because some jerk wanted piccies via his drone.

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Re: Glames?

"England's health minister. "

_England_'s health minister? I hadn't heard that Scotland, NI and Wales had completed their exits from the UK already...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Glames?

"_England_'s health minister? I hadn't heard that Scotland, NI and Wales had completed their exits from the UK already..."

Hey, we're talking about Jeremy C^HHunt, sometimes it's ok to be disowned..... England can keep him...

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Re: Glames?

Northern Ireland and Scotland have different health ministers from England. Not sure about Wales.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Glames?

Have an upvote because he's my Local MP. Total waste of space (like 99% of them IMHO)

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Given their country's attitude to firearms I don't understand why they didn't just remove the drone themselves with extreme prejudice

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Simples. Firefighters don't carry guns. Even if they did, drones are small and tough to hit. However the air crews do fly down to almost tree top level which is where the problem is.

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Anonymous Coward

"Firefighters don't carry guns."

Whaat? Someone in the US doesn't carry guns? Surely not?

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Anonymous Coward

> Given their country's attitude to firearms I don't understand why they didn't just remove the drone themselves with extreme prejudice

Is it particularly sensible to drop a busted, shorting out LiOn battery onto tinder dry brush in the vicinity of a barely controlled forest fire?

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No need for any extra equipment?

No need for guns, or other specialized drone-busting equipment --- just fly above the drone and drop water on it!

(Not a serious suggestion, I doubt it's possible to aim a planeload of water that accurately at a small moving target.)

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Re: No need for any extra equipment?

"No need for guns, or other specialized drone-busting equipment --- just fly above the drone and drop water on it!"

Some time ago I saw a video on YouTube where a moron was flying his drone while firefighters were trying put out a burning house. One firefighter sprayed the drone with a quick burst of water; no more drone.

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CCP

Even a lot of folks with Concealed Carry Permits don't actually carry often, if at all. It is more a point of making the local politicians worry about votes, isn't it?

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Good

I hope every other yob with a drone hears about this and if they're too stupid to consider how their actions might harm others, at least are forced to consider how it might harm themselves by being forced to live behind bars for a while.

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Re: Good

"if they're too stupid to consider how their actions might harm others"...they're probably stupid enough to try it themselves. You can't beat stupid.

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