Hobby drone blamed for grounding firefighting fleet in California

The U.S. Forest Service is blaming a hobby drone for grounding a fleet of planes delivering fire retardant to a blaze near Big Bear Lake on June 24th.


Officials could not locate the operator of the 4-foot fixed-wing drone, described as similar in design and color to the image above. Although firefighters have successfully used large predator drones supplied by the U.S. Department of Defense in monitoring fires like the massive 2013 Rim Fire, illegal hobby drones are becoming an increasing nuisance to firefighters.

Officials say that hobby drones often fly in restricted airspace and often far higher than the 400-foot ceiling mandated by the Federal Aviation Administration. Spokesman Chon Bribiescas told the Los Angeles Times

These folks who are handling these drones, I have to assume they have no idea what they're doing. They not only endangered the folks on the ground, but they endanger the pilots.

Illegal 4-Foot Drone Shut Down Aerial Firefight Over Lake Fire: Forest Service (KTLA)