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If you're going outside between now and early next week then it might pay to wear a hard hat.
That's because, believe it or not, the sky is falling.
Okay, so it's not actually the sky that is falling, it's a Chinese rocket booster that was used to carry a piece of the new Sino space station into orbit that might just dent your cranium.
Although hard-hats are the order of the day, the reality is that the odds of this booster smacking *you* (or anyone) in the head is extremely low so don't get paranoid about it.
However, there is still a small chance that a sizeable piece of this orbital detritus may impact a city or built-up area, with potentially fatal results.
This is not the first time a large lump has deorbited in an uncontrolled, and therefore unpredictable, manner. We've seen similar events happen quite a few times in the past and nobody and no property has yet been affected.
However, as certain parties are oft-heard to say when it comes to dangers in the air, "It's only a matter of time".
I find it amusing that around the world, children, adults and even old men like myself are being told that their toy foam planes are now far too dangerous to tolerate unless they are registered with authorities, flown only after the operator has attained some form of accreditation and will be fitted with electronic conspicuity devices that broadcast their whereabouts, idenity and owner's shoe size to the world. Yet... here we have over a tonne of space junk hurtling over our heads and about to plunge to earth god knows where, and that's okay.
I guess if this booster takes out a few hundred people in a heavily populated metropolitan area then China will issue an official "oops, sorry -- here's a free teeshirt" apology and all will be forgotten. However, if my 100g RC plane made of foam and incapable of hurting anyone gets flown in complete safety over a grassy field, 3.9Km from a barely used airfield without the right permissions and qualifications, I could find myself facing a $5K fine and/or up to 5 years in prison.
Yep, that sounds fair, doesn't it?
I strongly suspect that the regulators who burden RC model flying with such draconian restrictions and penalties would respond by saying "there's nothing we can do about Chinese rockets but we *can* do something about model aircraft" -- which is true. However, the response to that is "Yes, you *can* do something about model aircraft, but SHOULD you?".
You see, the number of deaths associated with the use of recreational multirotor drones is exactly the same as the number of deaths associated with falling space junk -- a big fat ZERO. So why are toy planes so over-regulated while rocket boosters seem to be "she'll be right -- no blame"?
I read a funny proposal from ICAO (the International Civil Aviation Organisation) this week. They think they've come up with the perfect rule-set for model aircraft flying and it made me laugh.
What they've actually done is pretty much copy verbatim, the rules of NZ's own CAA, whilst adding a few ignorant extensions of their own. Remember that ICAO is a bunch of bureaucrats who look at everything as if it was a full-sized aircraft. They want people to engage in preflight checks (including a laborious range-test) of their models before each flight and they believe that all our toys should be registered with the government.
To a hammer, everything (including a screw) looks like a nail -- and that's how it is when you have aviation authorities regulating toys. THESE ARE NOT REAL AIRCRAFT -- they are foam toys in the most part!
And on an associated note, I heard from CAA yesterday. Yes, the South Waikato District Council did break the rules when flying a drone in the town recently. They have been subjected to an "education" for their sins. I can't wait for the next time they claim that they know the rules better than me -- I think I now have evidence to prove otherwise. Of course this won't stop them from using their position of ignorance to try and tell me what's legal and what's not -- because: reasons.
Do I care?
Of course I don't. I will just continue to do what I do safely and with respect for the rights of others. The only people who might get upset by this are ignorant, stuipd people who prefer arrogance to enlightenment.
Ah.. the sun is shining. Excellent!
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