Drones and the Seattle Space Needle just can’t get along.
On New Year’s Eve, an unnamed drone pilot crashed a drone into the 605-foot tower with no damage reported to the national monument.
To add embarrassment to injury for the aircraft’s owner, Space Needle officials released the FPV video of the crash to the media, depicting the drone hovering over the observation deck before splatting into a platform festooned with holiday lights. It seems the pilot was trying to zoom in on a team of maintenance workers at the tower’s top spire (around minute 2:21).
Thanks to the FAA-mandated serial on the drone, police have identified the owner and the FAA has opened an investigation of its own. The city does not have a specific law dealing with drone crashes, but officials say the owner may be charged with reckless endangerment, a misdemeanor with a penalty of up to 364 days in jail and a maximum $5,000 fine.
To paraphrase Pres. George W. Bush’s famous gaffe: “Crash into the Space Needle once, shame on me; crash it twice..err..crash into..my..umm..wait..three times you say? Oh C’MON!” That’s right, this is the third Drone vs. Needle incident.
“It looks like the drone tractor beam we installed on the Space Needle is working,” Space Needle CEO and president Ron Sevart said in a statement. “This is the third time we’ve recovered a drone on our property.”
Seattle has experienced a number of other drone-related gaffes over the past few years. In fact, if 2016 will be sadly remembered for its number of high-profile celebrity deaths, then 2015 will go down as the Crap Year for Drones in Seattle.
That year, police charged a man with reckless endangerment after his UAV struck a 25-year-old woman during the city’s Gay Pride Parade, rendering her unconscious.
Fast forward to this month: Seattle Municipal Court jury convicted Paul M. Skinner of reckless endangerment in the 2015 case after deliberating two hours. According to the City Attorney’s Office, the verdict marks the first time the city has charged anyone with mishandling a drone in public.
Also in 2015, an unknown pilot crashed a drone into the Great Wheel. The DJI Phantom struck one of the wheel’s arms and plummeted earthward. The aircraft did not strike anyone and did not appear to cause any serious damage.
That same year, a drone got stuck in a power line over Lake Union’s Mallard Cove for nearly a week before being removed at a cost of nearly $35,000 to Seattle City Light.
Jason is a longstanding contributor to DroneLife with an avid interest in all things tech. He focuses on anti-drone technologies and the public safety sector; police, fire, and search and rescue.
Beginning his career as a journalist in 1996, Jason has since written and edited thousands of engaging news articles, blog posts, press releases and online content.
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