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Regular readers will well be aware of the fact that I've been on the government's radar for quite some time.
Back at the start of the century, I rattled the cages of power and authority around the world by daring to build my own cruise missile out of parts sourced from eBay and down at the local hardware store. This was long before the era of drones and caught "the powers that be" well off-guard.
Of course a lot of water has flowed under the bridge since then and despite my warnings, it's only now that governments are acknowledging the threat from privately owned unmanned aerial craft (ie: drones, cruise-missiles, etc). Of course, as is so often the case, I was roundly thrashed for daring to provide an advanced warning of the threat -- but then again... nobody likes a smart alec eh?
These days of course, it's the governments of the world crying about the risk of drones and other unmanned aircraft -- whilst I'm saying "the risk has existed for more than a decade and a half and you didn't care so why care now?"
So I wrote to the Minister of Transport about the matter.
He replied "your name is on a list".
Should I be worried?
Okay, this isn't as sinister as it might appear.
Although I might still be on other lists of "people to keep an eye on", the list Mr Twyford is refering to is a list of people that the CAA and Ministry of Transport are intending to contact directly over the issue of new drone regulations for New Zealand.
So yesterday I posted a video sharing this letter from the minister and giving my thoughts on what it really means.
A piece of material I used in that video is the advertisement that Airshare has been running on many drone-related videos when viewed in New Zealand.
This ad proudly claims that there are almost 300,000 people who own or fly drones in New Zealand (even though the government's own figures suggest closer to 77,000).
The ad also goes on to say that there are 5,000 manned aircraft in New Zealand.
Woah... hold up a minute Maureen!
Even if we take the government's estimate of around 77,000 drones in New Zealand, that means there are around fifteen times as many drones as manned aircraft here in NZ.
So why is it that drone users (numbering as many as 300,000) are being marginalised in favour of manned aviators whose numbers are more than an order of magnitude less in number?
Why is it that in the upcoming discussions aimed at changing NZ's drone regulations, the community of 300,000 gets but one seat at the table, whilst the community barely 1/10th the size gets multiple seats?
Why are so many of those involved in making the rules, people who have no first-hand experience with drones, many instead coming from the manned-aviation community which is (as we've seen) in the minority?
Would we take the advice of the hospital receptionist over experienced and qualified surgeons when deciding how to safely perform open-heart surgery I wonder?
I expect that my name may be on a few more "government lists" before this entire process is complete, as I will not be sitting idly by and allowing bureaucrats and those with little experience, understanding or knowledge of that which they're attempting to control, roll out a raft of ridculously restrictive and onerous regulations to burden such a large community of people as the recreational drone flying community.
If you think the protests in Hong Kong are pretty radical... stay tuned! :-)
However, unlike the idiots who have made it their stated intention to fly drones near Heathrow airport in the UK, I won't be advocating for any actions that would put person, pets or property in jeopardy. And of course, if the politicians and bureaucrats are really focused on safety (rather than arse-covering, commercial agendas or self-interest) then all will go very smoothly anway, with concepts such as registering children's toys being kicked firmly to the kerb without dissent.
I'd love to hear the predictions of readers as to how this will go :-)
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