COLUMN: In defence of drones

Don't be afraid – they're a hit-and-crash affair for users, anyway.

For those of you terrified every time you hear the word drone in the media, I’m going to drone on with some revelations.

Last Sunday, you might have collapsed at the thought that no fewer than 36 users of radio-controlled quadcopters had invaded the Cloverdale Agriplex.

The buzzing, the built-in cameras, the 3D goggles… they might have pushed you over the edge thinking Big Brother had taken control, ready to vapourize your privacy.

Forget the paranoia for a moment.

These were folks from the West Coast Drone Racing League, who held the start of their first indoor series, all in the safety of a net that enveloped the oval inside the building.

Drones – a rather inaccurate term, as these things are controlled by the user at all times – are (usually) expensive, finicky, fragile and unreliable toys.

But they’re also a lot of fun.

In 2015, for a few months, I took my turn at learning to fly one, then a second, then a third. They’re all dead now.

My enthusiasm lasted long enough to say that I experienced them as a bad pilot, and might return to the business when they get better and cheaper.

They never lasted terribly long in flight, were hard to direct at a distance and tended to need spare propellers at the time of purchase.

Control – remember, these were fairly basic models – was best described as a hit-and-crash affair.

Being able to turn one around in mid-air and fly it towards you can best be described as theoretical.

One of them had a basic screen on the hand controller and a camera on the drone itself.

The screen worked properly for about a day and I never got the hang of using that before I had to revert to seat-of-the-pants flying.

In contrast, the West Coast pilots are kitted out with modern 3D viewers, their eyeballs essentially inside the drone as it’s flying. I’ve never experienced it myself, but it looks like fun.

No cash, though. Maybe next decade.

Canada has laxer rules about drone use than the U.S., where fear of the unknown is abundant.

In the U.S., you need to register your drone if it weighs more .55 lbs. or two sticks of butter. It says so on the FAA registration website, which currently has a 20-per-cent off holiday sale. Order now!

Transport Canada, on the other hand, suggests you be responsible.

Dos: Fly your drone with charged batteries, in daylight, away from private property, etc.

Don’ts: Fly your drone over 90 metres up, or where you can’t see it, or where you may endanger or distract someone or damage someone’s property.

In other words, like when I tell my cats in the morning when I leave the house: Don’t do anything stupid.

Boaz Joseph is a photojournalist with The Leader.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Popular rector retires after 12 years with St. Mark’s Anglican Church

‘A good moment to step away,’ says Craig Tanksley

South Surrey couple donates $250K to students in honour of late son

Joseph Chung Scholarship Fund helps out 100 post-secondary students

Surrey tells Uber to cease operations in city, but company ‘respectfully’ declines

Ridesharing company told to stop operating within the city by 9 p.m. Jan. 24

Surrey RCMP investigate report of explosion at home

‘Emotionally elevated’ person taken ‘safely’ into custody: police

Man killed in fall from 3 Civic Plaza balcony in Surrey

Heavy emergency services presence in plaza at the skyscraper, at 13475 Central Ave.

‘Presumptive case’ of coronavirus in Canada confirmed by Ontario doctors

Man in his 50s felt ill on his return to Canada from Wuhan, China

People knowingly take fentanyl so make policy changes to reduce harm: B.C. study

Dr. Jane Buxton, an epidemiologist at the centre, says drug users need more resources,

‘My heart is going to bleed’: Bodies brought back to Canada following Iran plane crash

Remains of Sahar Haghjoo, 37, and her eight-year-old daughter, Elsa Jadidi, were identified last weekend

UBC grad and sister killed in Iran plane crash had bright futures ahead, close friend says

Asadi-Lari siblings Mohammad Hussein and Zeynab were two of 57 Canadians aboard downed Flight PS752

Coronavirus concerns cause cancellation of Langley Lunar New Year celebration

Close to 1,000 were expected to attend the annual Live In Langley event on Saturday

Second earthquake in two days strikes near Agassiz

A 2.6-magnitude recorded Saturday morning

BCLC opens novelty bet on Harry and Meghan moving to the west coast

Meanwhile, real estate agency points to four possible homes for the family

Canada slips in global corruption ranking in aftermath of SNC-Lavalin scandal

The country obtained a score of 77, which places it at the top in the Americas

Most Read

l -->