I love flying. Either in the cockpit or as a passenger, I love getting up in the air. I have zero fear of flying. In fact quite the opposite; I am nervous until I get to the airport then I calm down (driving is really scary). Growing up with parents on either side of the planet has meant many long flights, and when very little a bunch of them as a “UM” or unaccompanied minor in the care of the airlines. So for me to say, for the first time ever, that I am starting to be scared says something. Let me explain and just what I am afraid of.
Drones come in all sizes. The one at the top of this post is huge. But big or small I would not want one to come in contact with a jet I was riding in. Sure the chances, depending on the size, that it could do any catastrophic damage to an aircraft is remote. But as the number of drone sales each year just keeps exploding the chances of some kind of event also increases exponentially.
Heck even during the worst part of the recent hurricane Harvey idiots were putting first responders lives at risk to get drone footage shots of the flooding. Clearly many people just have no reservations about flying drones where and when they should not and endangering others.
Now take a look what ClickOnDetroit.com reported last month from a Delta pilot about to land at DTW airport:
“DETROIT – The pilot of Delta Flight 833 from San Diego to Detroit saw something strange Wednesday as he was preparing to land the plane at Detroit Metro Airport.
The pilot said a drone came so close to the aircraft he could describe its color and count the number of propellers.”
Yikes! As we all know takeoffs and landings are the time when all the attention of the crew needs to be on flying the plane and not having to avoid man made obstacles in their flight path. And to those who say this is no big deal (like one blow hard AA pilot on the web) take a look at this recent post from TheLocal.se:
“Last week, planes were forced to hold or divert at Arlanda due to drones on two separate occasions. On one of those, two incoming flights were given special permission to land because they were low on fuel.”
You may or may not know this but jets do not fly with all the fuel they can carry. They fly with enough to get from A-B and a reserve if they have to hold or divert. The point is that I do not want to have to have an aborted landing or diversion because some fool wanted a neat shot of a jet in the air.
And if you really want to scare yourself today all you have to do is Google how much more frequently these kinds of events are happening this year. For example look at these:
- A United Airlines jet narrowly missed a drone just before landing at Newark Liberty International Airport
And with more and more drones flying around I fear it is just a matter of time until we see a headline with more than just a near miss or close call. Plus an increase of diversions, while not as dangerous, sure does mess up your travel plans when you have to land in a city you did not intend to visit on your journey.
Bottom line this has me scared. I do not intend to stop flying anytime soon but I hope something can be done to prevent this from becoming a real nightmare for the aviation world.
What do you think about drones? Are you at all frightened by the increase of incidents we are seeing? Do you think one day someone will try to intentionally use a drone (or drones) as a weapon against a jet? Should there be stronger penalties for those who fly a drone anywhere near an airport? Let me know if you feel as I do and what you think in the comments below! – René