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Monday, November 2, 2015

'Something Very Wrong' With Small Drones, Columnist Argues

“There’s something very wrong with recreational drones,” a top columnist for The New York Times wrote, indicating criticism of unregulated use of the devices is moving beyond the aviation and technical communities. Gail Collins is a 20-year veteran of the Times and currently opines for the paper on American politics and culture. On Oct. 31, that included a column entitled “Dreading Those Drones,” with the opening line previously mentioned. Citing projections of continued explosive growth in sales of small unmanned aircraft systems, Collins said she sees no need to check the use of what are essentially small toys for children. “But it’s absolutely crazy that the bigger ones — the ones capable of flying in the same airspace as a helicopter or dropping a mystery package on a nuclear power plant — aren’t being licensed and strictly regulated,” she wrote. Collins noted that flying versions of model aircraft have a long, relatively problem-free history, “possibly because they’re kind of difficult to master, and someone who will go to the trouble of learning how to fly one will probably be disciplined enough not to do anything incredibly stupid.” She observed that some small drones “don’t require much more skill than opening a box. And the incredibly stupid issue is extremely important here.” Collins concluded: “You shouldn’t be able to go on the web, make three clicks and — with no training whatsoever — buy a product that could threaten public safety.”

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