Man arrested for delaying firefighters after flying drone over wildfire

Fighting Wildfires in Santa Barbara, CA (Vincent Laforet Wildfires Aerial 02)
The Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office in Arizona announced this weekend that 54-year-old Gene Alan Carpenter from Prescott Valley has been arrested for hindering aircraft after allegedly flying his unmanned drone in close proximity to one of the firefighting planes. Detailed by police, the drone was spotted circling one of the planes and forced officials to ground 14 aircraft fighting the raging wildfire for roughly an hour.

Besides planes, those aircraft include five helicopters and multiple air tankers. Contained around 44 percent as of Saturday, the fire has been burning through the Prescott National Forest over the past week. That area is located roughly 100 miles north of Phoenix. Authorities have restricted the area from non-firefighting aircraft in order to clear all flight paths. As of Friday, over one thousand firefighters are battling the wildfire.

Police have charged Carpenter with fourteen counts of felony endangerment and one misdemeanor count of unlawful operation of an unmanned aircraft. Before picking him up, a witness had described a man fitting Carpenter’s description standing near a white van positioned near the Mount Union Lookout Tower. When police searched Carpenter’s website, they found several pictures of the Goodwin Fire taken from a drone’s aerial position.

It’s possible that Carpenter will face additional charges from federal authorities, specifically related to temporary no-fly zone federal statutes. While detectives are planning to meet on Monday with federal authorities regarding those charges, Carpenter is currently facing a bond of $25,000 as well as a court date on July 6, 2017.

The FAA created a set of guidelines to help drone operators keep flights legal. Some of those recommendations include staying clear of airports (a five-mile radius) as well as avoiding large event areas like stadiums. The radius is extended during major events like the Super Bowl. During 2016, the FAA warned drone operators that all drones within a 36-mile radius would be shot down if seen in flight.

Of course, this isn’t the first time that a drone operator has been arrested for flying in the wrong place. During 2015, a California man was arrested after his drone flew within 50 feet of an LAPD helicopter. Also during 2015, two people were arrested in a plot to illegally transport goods into a prison utilizing a drone.

Emerging Tech

Alphabet’s Wing drones now have FAA approval to deliver packages in the U.S.

Alphabet Wing has become the first company to receive Air Carrier Certification from the FAA. This means that it can begin commercial deliveries from local businesses to homes in the U.S.
Emerging Tech

Hawaiian botanists’ drone discovers a plant thought to be lost forever

In what may well be a world first, botanists in Hawaii recently used a drone to find a species of plant that scientists believed was extinct. The plant was located on a sheer cliff face nearly 20 years after its last sighting.
Emerging Tech

U.S., U.K. embrace autonomous robot spy subs that can stay at sea for months

Unmanned, autonomous robot spy submarines that are able to stay at sea for months at a time may be coming to both the United States and its ally across the pond, the U.K. Here's what we know so far.
Mobile

China bans selfies at gigantic Aperture Spherical Telescope

You can't take a selfie with the world's largest single-dish radio telescope anymore, as the Chinese government has banned everything from smartphones to digital cameras in the surrounding 5-kilometer area.
Emerging Tech

Beresheet crash caused by manual command, but reflector device may have survived

Details are emerging about what may have gone wrong with spacecraft Beresheet's failed moon landing. A manual command was entered which led to a chain reaction. But NASA still hopes to salvage use of its Laser Retroreflector Array device.
Emerging Tech

The oldest type of molecule in the universe has been located at last

A milestone in the development of the early universe was the combination of helium and hydrogen atoms into a molecule called helium hydride. But strangely enough, this ancient molecule has never been detected in space before now.
Emerging Tech

The grid of the future will be powered by … giant subterranean bagpipes?

In order to transition to a more renewable-focused energy system, we need to scale up our grid storage capacity --- and our existing methods aren't going to cut it. Could compressed air be the key?
Emerging Tech

Mercury’s wobble as it spins reveals that it has an inner solid core

Scientists have long wondered what the inside of Mercury looks like, and they now have strong evidence that the planet has a large and solid metallic core. The data for the new findings was collected by the now-defunct MESSENGER mission.
Emerging Tech

Gravitational forces at heart of Milky Way shaped this star cluster like a comet

Hubble has captured the stunning Messier 62 cluster. The cluster is warped, with a long tail which stretches out to form a shape like a comet. It is thought this distortion is due to Messier 62's proximity to the center of the galaxy.
Emerging Tech

Burgers are just the beginning: Embracing the future of lab-grown everything

You’ve almost certainly heard of the 'farm to fork' movement, but what about 'lab to table'? Welcome to the fast-evolving world of lab-grown meat. Is this the future of food as we know it?
Emerging Tech

Troubleshooting Earth

It’s no secret that humans are killing the planet. Some say it’s actually so bad that we’re hurtling toward a sixth major extinction event -- one which we ourselves are causing. But can technology help us undo the damage we’ve…
Emerging Tech

Inside the Ocean Cleanup’s ambitious plan to rid the ocean of plastic waste

In 2013, Boyan Slat crowdfunded $2.2 million to fund the Ocean Cleanup, a nonprofit organization that builds big, floating trash collectors and sets them out to sea, where they’re designed to autonomously gobble up garbage.
Emerging Tech

Climeworks wants to clean the atmosphere with a fleet of truck-sized vacuums

Using machines that resemble jet engines, Climeworks wants to fight climate change by extracting CO2 from thin air. The gas can then be sold to carbonated drink and agriculture companies, or sequestered underground.
Emerging Tech

How 3D printing has changed the world of prosthetic limbs forever

When he was 13 years old, Christophe Debard had his leg amputated. Here in 2019, Debard's Print My Leg startup helps others to create 3D-printed prostheses. Welcome to a growing revolution!