Vanity Fair: Drones are gaining popularity in the United States, as hobbyists and professionals turn to the unmanned aerial vehicles for everything from delivering packages to filming athletes during spring training. But as more and more plastic buzzards take to American skies, authorities continue to fight back against their use. The Federal Aviation Administration has long enraged drone entrepreneurs by dragging its feet when it comes to setting up efficient regulations for unmanned aerial vehicles, and now the National Park Service is piling on as well, reminding visitors of Yosemite that the use of U.A.V.s is prohibited.
The park code in question mandates that “delivering or retrieving a person or object by parachute, helicopter, or other airborne means, except in emergencies involving public safety or serious property loss, or pursuant to the terms and conditions of a permit” is illegal. In a Friday press release, the park also noted that the humming of drones “can impact the natural soundscape” and create “an environment that is not conducive to wilderness travel,” “cause confusion and distraction for rescue personnel,” and “have negative impacts on wildlife nearby the area of use.”
It’s interesting that potential human inconveniences are noted before concerns about the environmental effect of a would-be army of toy helicopters outfitted with GoPro cameras, but, then again, at least there is any human concern at all. As we’ve noted before, the paranoia and fascination that underlines our domestic discourse about relatively harmless drones is wildly disproportionate to our national disinterest in the use of lethal drones abroad. [Continue reading…]