So, this actually happened. Last Sunday, Hawaii resident Travis Sanders, his daughter and other lava enthusiasts were taking in the amazing view of the rising lava lake at Halema’uma’u Crater.
While most lava onlookers were snapping sub-par photos with their conventional DSLRs, $1,000 telephoto lenses and iphones, Mr.Sanders decided to literally “elevate” the photo game with his trendy new drone.
Piloted from the crater edge, Mr.Sanders moved his drone around the crater; his shots were going to be the envy of all his Instagram followers. Obviously unbeknown to Mr.Sanders, the National Park Service (NPS) has moved quicker than most on adopting DRONE POLICY and outlawed their use in all National Parks.
Now this is where things get interesting. From Mr.Sander’s description of events, an unidentified person approached him in the darkness and in a very hostile/confrontational tone, asked him to “land the drone immediately”. The unidentified man was actually a Park Ranger; fighting drone crime since….2015?
Now, it was at this stage, Mr.Sanders, being the courageous drone-photo-journalist he is, opted to save the shot and evade this unidentified photo-bomber with a classic move; he said he had no ID and ran for it.
The Park Ranger, newly equipped with his government issue taser of environmental justice, acted on his duty to maintain park and public safety along the crater rim; pulled out his taser and zapped Mr.Sanders in front of the whole crowd.
Silent applause broke out amongst a few traditional photographers I assume.
Mr.Sanders’ case is the first of it’s kind but not the first time Park Rangers have zapped visitors/intruders in a National Park. The case is still fresh and the details should be available after Mr.Sanders’ court date.
So until then, we’ll hold our judgement and opinion on whether electrocuting Mr.Sanders was justified, but it does bring to light some questions on drone use. Should they be publicly available, when and how is it appropriate to use them, where does that footage go and how is it being used?
Here in Hawaii, we’ve become TOO accustom to the invasive hum of drones as they buzz by on certain hikes like Kokohead Crater and as they pan surf lineups at sunset.
I’ll be honest:
I don’t like them.
I find them creepy and invasive, an inorganic, unmanned tech-invader in an alternatively organic and tech-free environment. A visible voyeur in my saltwater escape. That’s just me but it is undeniable that the footage that these drones get is amazing. Just check out one of my favorite clips of surfing in the Mentawais.
I’m glad the NPS has moved quickly and adopted policy to eliminate drones from polluting the landscape of our National Parks, and that our Park Rangers are defending that policy with such…shocking force; sorry Mr.Sanders.