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Drones gone wild: 10 acts of unmanned aerial idiocy

Drones gone wild
Frederic Legrand/Shutterstock
People are geeking out over drones. You can use one to take awesome overhead photography, make deliveries, or just show off the aerial tricks to your friends. The technology once associated with military use is now accessible to civilians (much to the dismay of government agencies) in the form of quadcopters – some costing less than $100 – and people are going crazy for them. Perhaps the government has a right to be concerned: While most people are flying responsibly, there are a few knuckleheads out there who have decided to ruin the fun for everyone, by crashing their new toys or flying them in places where they shouldn’t – making all drone lovers look bad. Here are some of those lamebrain moves.

1. Fly a drone above the White House

A small drone crashed on the White House grounds, causing a lockdown of the entire complex. According to the New York Times, the drone was being flown by an “inebriated, off-duty employee for a government intelligence agency,” who was flying it from a nearby apartment and lost control. Since this incident, DJI, the maker of the drone, has updated its firmware to ban its drones from flying in the nation’s capital. Way to make responsible drone users look bad, man. Crashing a drone in your neighbor’s backyard is bad enough without putting national security in jeopardy.

2. Startle a herd of endangered Bighorn Sheep

Talk about campsite faux pas. The U.S. National Park Service bans drones in every national park after a man startled a herd of endangered Bighorn Sheep in Zion National Park. I’m still waiting for the Park Service to ban other faux pas. I’m looking at you, chain-smoking biker-dude who once asked me for a wrench.

3. Crash a drone into a geological wonder

A Dutch tourist crashed his drone into Yellowstone’s largest hot spring. It’s a major bummer: it’s unknown what long-term damages may have been caused, and authorities can’t actually locate the drone. What’s worse, the man admitted to his mistake because he wanted the Park Service to retrieve his drone; he’s lucky he just got a fine.

4. Smuggle drugs from Mexico

A drone carrying crystal meth crashed in a Tijuana parking lot. Perhaps the culprits should not have overloaded the thing with 6 pounds of synthetic meth. Someone, quick, pitch this to Vince Gilligan.

5. Attach a mistletoe to a drone

Nothing says “I love you” like fast-spinning propellers heading straight toward your lover’s face. Ignore the scratches and large chunks of hair – and possibly blood, with a smidgen of Jack Daniel’s sauce – it’s the thought that counts.

6. Bring down a triathlete

Drones seem to have a magnetic attraction to faces. Australian Athlete Raija Ogden was drilled by a drone when competing in the running portion of a triathlon. The drone’s owner, a photographer, said the drone may have been hacked.

7. Cruise over Heathrow International

When landing at Heathrow, a pilot noticed a drone flying next to the plane that air-traffic control couldn’t spot. Thankfully, the drone wasn’t close enough to the plane to do any damage, but something that size is enough to be a serious hazard.

8. Get a wedding close-up

A wedding photographer wanted to catch the bride and groom stealing a moment in the garden by flying a drone over their embrace. But he lost control and made a mess of things: the drone left cuts on the groom’s face and neck. Surprisingly, he was a good sport about it; not sure if others would feel the same way about having their mugs slashed.

9. Waste taxpayers’ money

What does a $250,000 experimental drone get you? Apparently not much if it disintegrates in midair during a SWAT training exercise in Montgomery County, Texas. Granted, the drone’s demise, which crashed into a lake, was caused by a rotor blade coming apart. Good thing for insurance: county officials plan to replace it, hopefully with something that’s tried-and-tested.

10. Glide over running of the bulls

A man flies his drone over thousands during The Great Bull Run in Virginia, an event similar to the Running of the Bulls in Pamplona, Spain. As if being chased by massive animals wasn’t scary enough, now you have to worry about a flying object falling on you. You see where this is going.

We recognize not every drone owner is irresponsible, but it’s the few huge mistakes that make everyone else look bad. These ten instances are just some of the stupidest accidents out there.

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Emily Schiola
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