formerly "The View From Up Here"

Formerly titled "The View From Up Here" this column began in the Liberty Gazette June 26, 2007.

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Thursday, August 21, 2014

July 8, 2014 Dangerous Drones

The Liberty Gazette
July 8, 2014
Ely Air Lines
By Mike Ely and Linda Street-Ely


Linda:
If you read this space often you know we are not supporters of big government. Not even of medium government. And certainly not fans of most politicians who puppeteer the moves of the machine we call government. But in this case, we side with (gasp) the FAA. Don’t expect it to happen again though.

About seven years ago the FAA threw out the arresting cable to bring commercial drone flying to a halt. In our opinion they did not go far enough. Drones are drones and are no safer if operated by an employee of the machine than an employee of an entrepreneur.

So along comes this New York (strike one) lawyer (that’s worth two strikes), who steps up to the plate for Amazon.com’s planned delivery system, Amazon Prime Air, and says the most ridiculous, hair-brained thing: "It's a purported new legal basis telling people to stop operating model aircraft for business purposes." If I was Brendan Schulman’s mother he’d be spending the rest of his life in the dugout for that misguided statement. Wish we could stop the fountain of evidence that intelligence is not required for a law degree.

Mike: Did Brendan, or the folks at Amazon or anyone else stop to think about the severe consequences when those pesky robotic gnats are sucked into an airplane’s intake? Have they considered what it might be like to have your own skin thousands of feet in the air, a real pilot in a real aircraft and suddenly lose control because someone on the ground playing a video game had an "oops" moment?

Craig Whitlock’s piece in the Washington Post "‘Stop saying ‘uh-oh’ while you’re flying’: Drone crash pilot quotes unveiled" are words of warning. The publication’s yearlong investigation on drones has revealed facts that I hope scare you. Here are some of those quotes from Whitlock’s article that exposed recorded words uttered by Air Force gamers:

"This thing’s kind of climbing like a pig. Climb, you pig…Boy, this is going to be tight…Okay, interesting. We are falling out of the sky." Unidentified pilot of a Predator that crashed near Creech Air Force Base in Nevada on May 13, 2013

"Where the [expletive] is…where is the runway? It’s all the way over here. I overshot. Oh, [expletive]. I think we lost the engine. Oh, [expletive], oh [expletive], oh my God, what is that?...What was all that stuff I just hit?" Air Force Capt. Matthew Scardaci as his Predator crashed into a row of empty shipping containers at Kandahar Air Base on May 5, 2011.

"Stop saying ‘uh-oh’ while you’re flying. It’s never good. Like going to the dentist or a doctor…‘Oops? What the [expletive] you mean ‘Oops?’" Unidentified camera operator, to a habitually nervous Predator pilot right before he crashed on takeoff at Jalalabad Air Base on July 24, 2012.

"As the plane was going down, all I saw were tents and I was afraid that I had killed someone. I felt numb and I am certain that a few cuss words came out of my mouth." Maj. Richard Wageman to Air Force investigators examining the crash of a Predator at Kandahar Air Base on Nov. 2, 2008.

And these are the "experts". But drone manufactures want to reduce the requirements to qualify as drone pilots. How safe will the skies be when they unleash these deadly weapons into the National Air Space in 2015, as mandated by Congress?


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