RC helicopter used to smuggle contraband (?) into prison

Someone flew a payload of something into Elmley Prison in Sheerness, Kent, using a RC helicopter. Whatever it was, it's been ingested or hidden, because no one can find it. Not bad!

A spokesman said: 'A remote control helicopter was flown into the grounds of HMP Elmley on December 23.

'As a result of this, a search of the prison grounds and an accommodation block were carried out and nothing was found...'

'Using a mini-helicopter to get contraband into jails is unprecedented. When officers spotted it they nearly fell off their chairs', a prison source told the Sun.

'It could have been drugs or a mobile phone in the package. It is possible it was a dummy run.'

Remote control toy helicopter 'used to fly drugs into prison' (Thanks, Francesco!)



  1. I wonder how soon it’ll be that prisons are allowed to install vulcan cannons around their walls. They want to record our email conversations and make us carry ID cards, so why not?

  2. D y rd th Ml r smthng, Cry?

    m frqntly srprsd by th fct tht y gv pgrnk t ppr tht bth spss dffrnt vls t bth yrslf nd bb nd hs rcrd f frmngrng n smwht msldng wys.

  3. no one thought of this? so no one has considered what a small fleet of c4 equipped RC helicopters could do the the superbowl? i thought they had someone dreaming up fairly elementary schemes in order to brainstorm solutions.

    ah well. i’ll never attend a superbowl anyways.

  4. This is pretty sophisticated. Round these parts they just use sling shots to get stuff into prison.

  5. @ Cpt. Tim:

    Not much.

    1) There aren’t enough RC control frequencies to command even a “small fleet” without stepping on each other. And stadium authorities have probably had the same idea and are actively jamming the entire band used for RC aircraft.

    2) The pilots would have to be in the parking lot, where dozens of men bringing in RC helos (to say nothing of prepping and launching them) could reasonably be expected to arouse suspicion.

    3) Each individual craft would only be able to carry a tiny amount of explosive, and an even more miniscule amount of shrapnel material, if any.

    4) Even if they managed to get two dozen copters, each carrying half a kilo of C4 (which they bought where?) and ball bearings, up over the stadium walls and down towards the seats without the rotors hitting anything (despite being flown by remote camera,) and all of them detonate successfully in close proximity to fans who somehow haven’t noticed these hovering whirling blades of death approaching, best case maybe 100 casualties, in a stadium of 75,000. So in the outlandish event that absolutely everything goes right for them, they kill 4 people each and all get caught.

    They’d be better off sending in one guy to start a riot at the World Cup.

  6. How hard *would* it be to build a fleet of helicopters?

    I would have thought there would be a good digital control standard by now.
    We certainly have the technology.
    How much bandwidth would you even need to control a single helicopter?
    I would think rs232 would be fast enough, at least for control information.
    And since it would be a digital socket, you could just encapsulate everything and use the same channel with off the shelf packet radio.

    Hell, why re-invent the wheel, just give each helicopter a cellular modem, and let the cell phone company handle your data for you.
    You could also just use a gps, and give your helicopter pre-programmed instructions like a tomahawk missile, or control your fleet in real time from a laptop, anywhere with an internet connection.
    Latency might be a problem…

    But with 3g, you could probably have a real time webcam on each copter, with at least a few images per second.

  7. #4, Antinous:

    Please keep the thread focused on the story, not the source.

    US readers may not realise how much of a political statement a UK resident makes by reading the Daily Mail. It’s a right-wing tabloid, known for having an alarmist, intolerant and reactionary editorial stance.

    It has often been accused of being homophobic (e.g. coverage of Brian Paddick) and racist (“asylum-seekers infected with the Aids virus are putting public health at risk”).

    I’d suggest that it’s values are diametrically opposed to those of BoingBoing, and don’t like to think that BoingBoing readers might contribute to their web traffic.

    1. Beanolini,

      BB gets all its stories from somewhere and I assure you that there’s a crowd of people who disapproves of every possible source. You should see the complaints about the New York Times. Complaining about the Mail is a tired meme and we’ve previously declared it over and done with. Nobody gets to tell the Boingers what they can post.

  8. @Beanoli – On the subject of the Daily Mail, the paper gets a certain kind of readership and their editorial stance reflects that, but I’ve been amused to see the web comments on their stories are much more broad-minded.

    The influx of blog linkage and the broader public commenting serves to dilute their awful ideology. Like a left leaning flash mob. With the future of publishing being on the net perhaps visiting the mail site and commenting honestly on their stories is the BEST thing you can do.

    it may actually affect their editorial stance!
    Or at worst it’s annoying the hell out of them :)

  9. Reminds me of when David ‘Git Wizard’ Blaine was doing his sitting in a box not eating thing in London a few years ago. Someone suspended a burger from a RC helicopter and flew it past him.

    As for that prison… is it Elmley or is it cream?

  10. We need to get a DHS grant to provide prisons with very small anti-aircraft missiles in order to eliminate this threat.

  11. Beanolini, this is the site that features cryptozoology and cephaloporn. Reading Daily Mail is the least of our psychological issues!

    Hm, next step, mod an RC plane to be controlled by a disposable cell, which also sends back basic video from attached cam.

  12. How long till RC helicopters are illegal? They’re trying to do it to P2P, because that can be used to commit crimes. Evidently, so can RC helicopters. They should both be illegalized! as well as kitchen knives!

  13. The UK police are starting to experiment with RC camera copters. Therefore, expect a covert campaign to get use of them by the public discouraged.

  14. …just fire up our Star Wars laser defense program to fry the floating electronic eyes. (I do need a good excuse for carrying around one of those green laser pointers)

  15. Just programme a commercially available UAV. No remote signal to jam, launch from a safe (you don’t get caught) distance.
    Payload. If you’re not going to do that much damage with explosives and shrapnel? How about a Bio-hacked Germ of some sort sprayed over the crowd.

    I’m scaring myself now.

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