In this installment of “Skynet is Coming, Skynet is Coming,” (perhaps better as part of a new series we’re contemplating called “We Need to Up Our Meds”) we read a report in the Washington Post which paints a growing threat from drones. But what kind of drones? Are all drones created equal? Why does this read a bit strangely to me?
Ever heard of CPL? It stands for “Crazy Person Logic,” and up until a couple of years ago I only recognized when I saw or heard it, not identify with it.
Here’s what I mean, quoting the WP article itself (and to be clear: I in no way question what pilots saw, only the choice of language as it shows up in this article):
“A swarm of small rogue drones disrupted air traffic across the country on a scale previously unseen…” As visions of an armed fighter formation of terrorist Phantom 3s probing U.S. weaknesses immediately filled my head, I only needed to read a bit further to see that the writer had gone beyond creative license (swarm, noun: a large or dense group of insects, especially flying ones) to hijack the meaning of the word as a single group to mean “12 [one craft] episodes in [California, Washington, Kentucky, Illinois,] New Mexico, Texas, Illinois, Florida, and North Carolina…” Fear-mongering, anyone?
“A white drone startled the pilot of a JetBlue flight, appearing off the aircraft’s left wing moments before the jet landed…” Scary, huh? This one reads like another Phantom that caught up with and then kept pace with a commercial jet – either that, or vectored in on an intercept course and then changed its mind. Umm…can’t do that with a Phantom. Are they using “drone” and “consumer quadcopter” interchangeably – or when they use “drone” do they mean something else?
“…the pilot of an Air Force F-15 Strike Eagle said a small drone came within 50 feet of the fighter jet…” While the F-15 was parked on the tarmac? What Phantom or Solo – or, I dunno, any consumer quadcopter — is even visible to an F-15 Strike Eagle pilot while flying at war bird speeds? You think a consumer quadcopter can keep up with a current generation U.S. fighter doing anything more than taxiing? A Phantom can’t even keep up with a World War I era Sopwith Camel.
Look, there are plenty of things to be worried about these days, and who knows – maybe hobbyist drones are a sneaky plan by China to infiltrate the U.S., a terrorist plot to annoy the crap out of us from constant buzzing, and maybe 3DR is funded by the U.S. Air Force to catch up.
Uh…wait a minute…
On the other hand, there is no shortage of idiots — and human history has proven that anything which can be weaponized will be weaponized.
FAA records detail hundreds of close calls between airplanes and drones
Via The Washington Post:
On Sunday, a swarm of small rogue drones disrupted air traffic across the country on a scale previously unseen in U.S. skies.
At 8:51 a.m., a white drone startled the pilot of a JetBlue flight, appearing off the aircraft’s left wing moments before the jet landed at Los Angeles International Airport. Five hours later, a quadcopter drone whizzed beneath an Allegiant Air flight as it approached the same runway. Elsewhere in California, pilots of light aircraft reported narrowly dodging drones in San Jose and La Verne.
In Washington, a Cessna pilot reported a drone cruising at 1,500 feet in highly restricted airspace over the nation’s capital, forcing the U.S. military to scramble fighter jets as a precaution.
In Louisville, a silver and white drone almost collided with a training aircraft. In Chicago, United Airlines Flight 970 reported seeing a drone pass by at an altitude of 3,500 feet.
All told, 12 episodes — including other incidents in New Mexico, Texas, Illinois, Florida and North Carolina — were recorded Sunday of small drones interfering with airplanes or coming too close to airports, according to previously undisclosed reports filed with the Federal Aviation Administration.
(cover photo credit: snap from The Washington Post)