Drones banned at Lake of the Ozarks Shootout

Drones banned at Lake of the Ozarks Shootout #546

The Lake of the Ozarks Shootout powerboat races are scheduled Saturday, Aug. 23 and Sunday, Aug. 24 at Captain Ron’s Bar and Grill in Sunrise Beach. At the Shootout the world’s top powerboat racers compete to be top gun, as tens of thousands of powerboat race fans cheer them on.

LAKE OF THE OZARKS, Mo. — To the likely disappointment of some photographers and hobbyists, aerial drones will be banned from the 2014 Lake of the Ozarks Shootout.

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That’s according to Camden County 911 Director Sgt. David W. Edwards.

“The airspace over the Shootout has been reserved by the Federal Aviation Administration for the rescue helicopters,” Edwards said.

Edwards will be at the hub of race safety in the Camden County Emergency Services Unit (ESU), at the Shootout race course finish line. The ESU is a self-contained communication center on wheels. From inside, Edwards will coordinate an extensive information-sharing network between all levels of emergency agencies and race officials for safety and emergency purposes.

Stationed on the top deck of a dock near the race course will be FAA Air Boss Gordon Evans. Evans coordinates all the aircraft above the race course. He directs the helicopters for the dive team, racers, media, official photographers, and STAFF for Life emergency helicopter. He also coordinates the Shootout airplane flyovers, when scheduled.

“The FAA will be in charge of the airspace over the Shootout,” Edwards reiterated.

The problem posed by drones is they do not have radio contact with the FAA. “We don’t want a drone hitting a helicopter and crashing it into spectators,” Edwards explained. “That would be like taking a drone to an air show. If Gordon gives them permission, he has the authority to do that. But, I guarantee it will be under his conditions.”

According to Edwards, this has been the rule as long as he has been participating in Shootout emergency services at the Sunrise Beach race course.  

According to FAA regulations, if a person wants to fly more than a hobbyist drone in the United States, he or she must obtain permission, or a license, from the FAA.

According to a list created by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, EFF, 81 entities have obtained permission to have a drone of that scale, including colleges and universities, local sheriff’s offices, police departments, drone manufacturers, and one Indian tribal agency.

According to a list created by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, EFF, 81 entities have obtained permission to have a drone larger than the hobby-sized devices. Electronic Frontier Foundation photo

EFF reports also that Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada has a a MQ-1 Predator drone, and the University of Colorado, Boulder, has a NexSTAR miniature UAS drone that it uses for weather and wireless experiments. According to Popular Science, the U.S. Army has permission to fly drones in the “general location” of the Pentagon, though the type and number of drones is not made public.  

The EFF is a nonprofit organization which defends civil liberties in the digital world. Founded in 1990, EFF champions user privacy, free expression, and innovation through impact litigation, policy analysis, grassroots activism, and technology development.

According to a Feb. 24, 2013 article in the National Journal, the EFF sued last year for a list of drone applicants within the U.S. When that information went public, staff attorney Jennifer Lynch says, “it really got people up in arms about how drones are being used, and it got people to question their city councils and local law-enforcement agencies to ask for appropriate policies to be put in place to regulate drone usage.”

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Drone Trouble

Time Magazine reported this week that someone crashed a drone into Yellowstone National Park’s biggest hot spring, and may have damaged the landmark. Drones have been banned in the park since June.

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