This is similar to the design seen by the Alitalia pilot

The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating a report from a pilot of an Alitalia passenger jet who says he saw an unmanned aircraft while landing at John F. Kennedy Airport in New York.

We saw a drone, a drone aircraft,” the pilot can be heard telling controllers on radio calls captured by the website LiveATC.net.

“The FAA is investigating a report… he saw a small, unmanned or remote-controlled aircraft while on final approach to Runway 31 Right,” according a statement sent to CNN by FAA spokeswoman Laura Brown. “The sighting was approximately four to five miles west of the airport at an altitude of approximately 1,500 feet,” she said.

That description puts the aircraft somewhere over Brooklyn and on the other side of the airport from where the plane was coming in for a landing…

The Alitalia aircraft did not have to take any evasive action and landed safely at JFK…

For recreational hobbyists, flying remote-controlled planes is only allowed by the FAA up to 400 feet in the air, and within sight of the operator. If they are going to fly within three miles of an airport, they have to let air traffic controllers know.

Flying unmanned aerial vehicles is illegal for most business purposes; however, governments and public entities such as police departments can apply for permission to operate them.

20 years ago, it would have been called a UFO.

What do you think? A geek who doesn’t know anything about FAA regulations?



  1. pedro says:

    all hail president obomba, the messiah!

    • The Monster's Lawyer says:

      You might be jumping to conclu…Oh, it’s you.

      • pedro says:

        Sure, how can I think that if Bush is president and a Republican is the governor of NY?

  2. Dallas says:

    Sorry, that was mine.

  3. Mr Diesel says:

    Meh, the guys were showing autonomous drones at a hackers convention in DC 5 years ago.

    No big thing anymore as anyone can buy or build one. You can even arm them. Put a .22 pistol on one with an electric solenoid and go after racoons. When you do please post video on YouTube just like the Iraq War vids. Death from above!

    • Animal Mother says:

      Great idea! I’d like a Steampunk drone armed with a percussion pistol. I’d use it to chase escaped slaves.

    • dusanmal says:

      Problem is: this pilot claims seeing one during landing at JFK. We are paying through the nose for Government run security around airports, particularly sensitive airports like JFK. Any drone thereabout should have been shot down and “driver” found as the risk is unacceptable.
      People who fly them have easily accessible info on where they can or can’t fly them.
      Finally, while having your 22 is Constitutional right. Flying anything is not.

  4. Admfubar says:

    when did radio controlled model airplanes become drones?

  5. MikeN says:

    What is it about JFK airport? After 9/11 there was a plane with a shoe-bomber, er mechanical failure. Before that a plane shot down by a missile, er fuel tank explosion.

  6. Uncle Patso says:

    Various news agencies report that the craft was black, about 200 feet from the jet, about a meter square, with helicopter rotors on the corners and 3, 4 or 5 miles either west or southeast of the airport.

    Too much variation and confusion. It will take a while to sort all the conflicting information and figure out what really happened.

  7. Animal Mother says:

    How long before some madman mounts a laser pointer on one of these terrifying drones? I demand a new government agency to deal with this imminent threat.

  8. msbpodcast says:

    I’ll say it: The only way to defeat a bad guy with a drone is with a g00d guy with a drone. :-)

    If you can’t fly drones, only criminals will have drones… And the cops… Same thing…

  9. Tin Soldier says:

    You know….

    It’s only a matter of time before some nut job gets the idea to arm his/her own drone toy store helicopter or something.

    Remember those 2 guys in that beat up old car who killed a few people from shooting at them from behind a tail light from inside the trunk a few years ago? Remember the panic?! (Maybe not since it was a while ago and they were only using a simple deer rifle.) Now, we have hobbyist robotics that can fly!

    I can see it now. It’s almost like part 2, or more like part 6 (since there may have actually been a sequel) to the movie Runaway with Tom Selleck which was poetically released in 1984. (Get it? 1984!)

    Some activist or other crazy person/group makes one of these things, arms it with a .45 caliber gun or even a metal cutting laser and then goes on a shooting/cutting spree. Or maybe they just strategically cut off road signs that then fall and kill the traveling public. You can just see the knee jerk politicians start talking about banning or licensing toys can’t you? Never mind any real punishment even if someone actually catches the little jerk(s).

    Frankly, I’m surprised that none of Hollywood’s great directors or even someone like Tom Clancy have thought of crap like this. Maybe that’s because they haven’t finished with all the remakes of all the Saturday morning crap just yet. But then, maybe they did make a movie. And maybe that’s what the pilots were watching.

    • dadeo says:

      Yeah, that would be original..not a big item for hollywood lately.

    • CrankyGeeksFan says:

      This video is entitled “Prototype Quadrotor with Machine Gun!” http://youtube.com/watch?v=SNPJMk2fgJU

      It was posted on the FPSRussia YouTube channel – a top 10 channel on YouTube.

    • DogEars says:

      The sniper attacks you mentioned happened in the Washington, DC area 11 years ago. They killed more than a few. In the course of 3 weeks, there were 15 attacks resulting in 10 deaths. They were also linked to 3 earlier killings as they traveled to DC. The gun was a Bushmaster XM-15, not your simple deer rifle (not that you couldn’t use it for hunting deer). He wasn’t shooting through the taillight, he took out the back seat so he could lay prone and shoot through a hole by the license plate.

      • Tin Soldier says:

        Yes. Exactly! Although I don’t recall they were using a Bushmaster. They may have had one when they were caught but most of the kills I recall hearing about were from a generic hunting rifle using bullets that the XR-15 can’t use like a 30-06 round – which is way more effective especially at long range than a 223 or even a 762 would be. I even recall seeing the actual murder weapon which looked more like a generic hunting rifle too. Something you might see at a Walmart with wood stock and bolt action even.

  10. MikeN says:

    Attorney General Eric Holder in response to questioning from Rand Paul confirmed that the President has the authority to conduct drone strikes against American citizens on US soil, without a trial.

    • CrankyGeeksFan says:

      Vice-President of the United States Dick Cheney ordered commercial jets to be shot down during the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

      Is the Attorney General’s statement any stretch at all?

      My question is how many other officials have this authority.

      • pedro says:

        I see that hope & change worked, they’re so different from Chenney et al… so refreshing.

  11. dadeo says:

    Autonomous – could have been lost – off course/out of control.

  12. MikeN says:

    Rand Paul is engaged in a real filibuster on the Senate floor right now, arguing against the drone program.

  13. Noname says:

    Gee whiz Beaver, it’s perfectly safe; it’s not like it had a laser pointer aimed at the cockpit!

  14. Glenn E. says:

    Nobody complained, when I was growing up, about those model rockets reaching 1000+ feet, near any aircraft’s flight path. And you can be sure it happened, now and then. Because kids where never told not to do that. And probably would anyway, if they had. But I don’t ever remember hearing about it in the news, then or now.

    But now suddenly, we’re supposed to believe that some little battery powered hobby toy drone, got way up into the air, at possibly 1500 feet? No way! Only if it were something operated by a law enforcement department. Or some defense contractor, demoing or testing their latest spy toy. And it ran on gasoline. But nothing the general public is gonna be able to buy. So blame it on the common citizens, so they can be forbidden the use of drones, to fight back. Nipping this in the bud, before it becomes a Constitutional right. Like gun ownership.

    • CrankyGeeksFan says:

      The “Prototype Quadrotor with Machine Gun!” YouTube video referenced above mentions that the device can fly up to a quarter mile high.

  15. Rick says:

    I had one like that as a kid back in the 1970s, it had a gas engine, looked like a saucer and could fly up to 1000 feet up in the air.

  16. burningsol says:

    This is a complete lie! A poilet couldn’t have made out a drone that far away, going that fast!

    • Jim Lawrence says:

      Has anybody here heard of FPV: Forward Pilot View? These “kids” are flying these multiropter craft in excess of 50 miles at altitudes private and commercial and yes, airliners fly at (not 35,000′ but up to at least 10,000. You can find them on YouTube, search FPV distance record, keywords like that.
      They were goggles which have two little LCD screens in them which give the operator a virtual (and very high rez) “on board” view from the actual model/drone/multirotor, whatever you want to call it.
      Also, the thing the pilot saw was likely not a meter across, more like a foot…which probably means it was a lot closer than he thought.
      Or…someone is building big ones to take down airplanes. It’s only a matter of time, and I’m not a pessimist by nature, but this “hobby” is a ripe tool for the bad guys. This is a case where I hope the authorities do come up with a solution, and quick, because the technology is of course booming like crazy.
      I’ve seen lots of videos where these guys go chasing each other across fields, graveyards, through groves of trees a few feet off the ground, far from sight of their operators. They have excellent remote viewing control.
      It looks like a lot of fun! I’d like to have one. But I’m also a pilot, and when I think of one of these “toys” going through the prop or windscreen and taking it out (doesn’t take much mass, size or weight — ever heard of bird strikes bringing down jet fighters?) I start to really worry.
      This is I’m unhappy to say a ticking timebomb with no obvious solution beyond banning all long range RC frequencies…and how the heck are they going to do that without disrupting a whole lot of other stuff?