BOISE - An incident Wednesday morning at the Spirit of Boise Balloon Classic involving a drone has left organizers warning drone pilots in the area. Organizers say they saw the drone, fortunately, before the balloon launch.
Although that incident was very minor, it has definitely raised some concerns for the public and for the pilots themselves.
"For us the problem becomes one of not knowing who the drone belongs to and not knowing what the drone is carrying," said Spirit of Boise Balloon Classic organizer Scott Spencer. "They could be carrying anything and we are charged with keeping our crowds safe. When we have 30,000 people in the park it's very hard for me to do something with a drone and I dont know who it is."
When it comes to actually flying a drone, it's all about location.
"We're within that area that makes it illegal for drones to operate because of close proximity to the airport," said Spencer. "So you got a double whammy. You have the balloon port in the park and then you have the Boise Airport."
Eric Turner has permission from Scott Spencer to fly his drone in accordance with the FAA rules and regulations. But even then, there are boundaries.
"You can't just go out and fly these anywhere you want," said Turner. "You have to make sure you know where you are - that's the biggest thing now. In the park there's going to be a designated area for my drone to be operated in. All the pilots in the hot air balloons will know exactly where that is. I am not to leave the area because balloons and drones don't mix up close together."
Spencer says for this event, they include Turner's drone in their operational plan with the FAA complete with maps of where his drone will be flying. In order to make sure everything goes off without a hitch, one key aspect will need to take place.
"It's communication," said Turner. "I will be in the pilot briefing with the hot air balloon pilots in the morning, they'll know who I am I'll know who they are. By having only one authorized drone in the park, safety is definitely at the top priority."
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