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Government moves to ban drones in 400 national parks

The National Park Service is taking steps to ban drones from 84 million acres of public lands and waterways, saying the unmanned aircraft annoy visitors, harass wildlife and threaten safety. ( More...

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Joe Corrao 3
By the way, I believe your reference to "400 crashes" is to an article headlined "400 Military Drone Crashes Since 2001" that appeared in today's AvWeb. Although I strongly believe that autonomous see-and-avoid is a baseline requirement for introduction of UAVs into civilian airspace, I note that 400 crashes in 13 years is about 31 crashes per year, and that many of those were in war zones, or bad weather, or when the UAV was many hundreds, even thousands of miles from its operator. I think your reference in the context of operations over national parks is misplaced.
first I don't know why they are called drones. I am a quadcopter user and flied many times in parks, beaches, nature and I have never heard anyone complaining, actually I just get "how cool is that", "I love it", "where can I buy one", etc so I guess who ever is making these rules obviously is afraid of being filmed while doing something illegal. I always fly safe, keep distance, never close to airports, and always spotting for any type of danger closing in. now the gov wants to control us from taking pictures from the air, whats next?
Joe Corrao 2
Robert, one of the purposes of national parks is "to provide for the enjoyment of the same....: ( It seems to me that "just for pleasure" signifies enjoyment and that's what national parks are for. Of course, you may mean that you don't like how some people enjoy the park; you'd rather everyone enjoyed it your way. I'm sorry; perhaps you could enjoy the many parts of the park that snowmobiles don't use. Now,in fairness, the rest of that national parks' purpose statement is "in such manner and by such means as will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations," and some people claim that mechanized access is more detrimental than access on foot or mule or covered wagon, but is that really true? An aircraft flying over certainly has less impact on the park than someone on the ground who disturbs rocks and plants and animal habitat by their very presence. In fact, I'd say that a snowmobile, operated responsibly by a person who cares about the park, is less detrimental than a hiker whose not ashamed to snatch a fossil as a souvenir or agitate an animal to get a selfie. Banning forms of access is wrong; national parks belong to all the American people - access can and should be arranged to provide for the enjoyment of all the people.
Perhaps I'm being slightly paranoid,but perhaps the US Government has motives other than protecting the flora and fauna. I believe that it is possible that several areas of parkland in the US also possibly house constructions that are meant to be kept from prying eyes. The overfly restrictions also help to maintain secrecy without disclosing the true reason for the restrictions.
Joe Corrao 2
A ban is unnecessary and inappropriate. Far more fair to all users of national parks would be a set of sensible limitations developed in coordination with FAA and user groups. A limit such as "no operation of UAVs within 500 feet of any person on the ground without each person's express written permission" would accommodate park users who want their activities recorded. "No operation within 500 feet of protected animals that are visible from 500 feet" would protect both wildlife from aircraft and aircraft from overzealous enforcement. Minimum altitudes might be established by a formula based on size of UAV and decibels emitted at cruise power. Such limitations would be fair, appropriate and enforceable and far preferable to a blanket ban. Many potential users of national parks cannot experience the parks because of handicaps or finances. Any technology that makes national park vistas more accessible should be encouraged, not banned.
Jeff Lawson 1
Are there any existing noise ordinances in these parks that these drones would be violating, or are they actually below those limits? Some of those motorhome generators can get pretty loud and are sometimes restricted too.
sparkie624 1
More Liberal BS... Give me a break. These liberal idiots in Washington have enough laws that they cannot enforce now... All they are doing is costing the tax payer more money, We need less government intervention, not more.
BC Hadley 1
While I generally agree with you (already too many overly-specific and unenforceable laws), I'm not sure this is a bad idea. As long as there are idiots with more money than brains who can foul it up for the rule-followers, there are going to be problems.
dmanuel 1
My first, knee-jerk reaction, was along the line of this is unnecessary. However, after reading their concerns, knowing that there are plenty of people with a few hundred dollars, but lacking motivation to utilize civility, safe operation procedures and having a false perception of self-importance, I can see the need for a ban. However, I think this should only be the first step, but allowing some conduit for drone operations, following a licensing process.
tim mitchell 1
7-4-6. Flights Over Charted U.S. Wildlife Refuges, Parks, and Forest Service Areas

a. The landing of aircraft is prohibited on lands or waters administered by the National Park Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, or U.S. Forest Service without authorization from the respective agency. Exceptions include:

1. When forced to land due to an emergency beyond the control of the operator;

2. At officially designated landing sites; or

3. An approved official business of the Federal Government.

b. Pilots are requested to maintain a minimum altitude of 2,000 feet above the surface of the following: National Parks, Monuments, Seashores, Lakeshores, Recreation Areas and Scenic Riverways administered by the National Park Service, National Wildlife Refuges, Big Game Refuges, Game Ranges and Wildlife Ranges administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and Wilderness and Primitive areas administered by the U.S. Forest Service.

FAA Advisory Circular AC 91-36, Visual Flight Rules (VFR) Flight Near Noise-Sensitive Areas, defines the surface of a national park area (including parks, forests, primitive areas, wilderness areas, recreational areas, national seashores, national monuments, national lakeshores, and national wildlife refuge and range areas) as: the highest terrain within 2,000 feet laterally of the route of flight, or the upper‐most rim of a canyon or valley.

c. Federal statutes prohibit certain types of flight activity and/or provide altitude restrictions over designated U.S. Wildlife Refuges, Parks, and Forest Service Areas. These designated areas, for example: Boundary Waters Canoe Wilderness Areas, Minnesota; Haleakala National Park, Hawaii; Yosemite National Park, California; and Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona, are charted on Sectional Charts.

d. Federal regulations also prohibit airdrops by parachute or other means of persons, cargo, or objects from aircraft on lands administered by the three agencies without authorization from the respective agency. Exceptions include:

1. Emergencies involving the safety of human life; or

2. Threat of serious property loss.

Kenneth Acorn 0
Other than locating missing persons or checking for erosion patterns or other research issues, why would you need to have drones flying over National Parks? Don't get me wrong; I think we have far too many bans in general but I don't really get the point of private drones over the parks.
Robert Black 0
Motorized anythings are a nuisance in National Parks. Think snowmobiles rattling around in Yellowstone in winter, or airboats in the Everglades. Sometimes they are necessary, but most of the time its just for pleasure.
This is probably a good thing. BUT it all depends on the wording of the documents. Each park is currently capable of establishing and enforcing use rules. As with all regulations, a fair hand is required. Try boating down the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon without proper paperwork. When was the last time any General Aviation pilot decided to take a river tour on the spur of the moment?
sparkie624 3
New laws like this are never a good thing. Too many laws already.

[This comment has been downvoted. Show anyway.]

sparkie624 3
They are also considering Hobby RC Planes in that as being a Drone... This law has no merit and infringes on peoples rights.
Joe Corrao 1
Peter, NPS does not regulate aviation safety; NPS regulates national park access. If NPS were to propose a ban on flying over national parks based on concerns such as you suggest, it would be outside of NPS's regulatory authority; that's FAA's job and NPS could not do it. When considering NPS's threatened ban, we should assume that FAA will do its job to assure that UAVs are safe before they permit UAVs to operate widely in the national airspace. (Personally, I think autonomous see-and-avoid is a baseline requirement of UAV safety, but that's not the point of the threatened NPS ban.) Assuming that FAA appropriately determines that UAV tech has matured to the point where they are safe to operate in the national airspace, how would you evaluate the NPS's blanket ban on airspace access?


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