Drones and Paddling: What's Your Take?

That’s definitely true. Since rolls can’t be done in my ski I’ve made some real ugly remounts. :+1:

What’s my take…hmmm. I can recall a while back, maybe even as far back as the Pnet days, there was a post by a paddler who was POd about being buzzed by a drone and asked if there was any way of bringing them down. I was kind of sympathetic with the poster - that was intrusive and it seemed like some sort for of self-defense from such annoyance ought to be available. Folks went a bit goofy, of course… shot guns, nets, etc. were mentioned I think.
As a kid I used to build and fly control line model airplanes, rubber band free flight, dabbled in indoor rubber, P-30s, and such. In adulthood I occasionally got a hankering to build and fly something and even went so far as to make a few RC sailplanes and such. (Though I always considered - and still do - flying RC as a bit of “electronic cheating” - anybody can throw money at a hobby, pay for gyroscopic stabilizing, stall prevention settings, buy bigger engines to avoid building light, and such, thereby avoiding the problem-solving/design challenges of the model airplane hobby. Makes for a lesser hobby, IMHO.) But I did recall that RC signals could be jammed, RC planes can be “shot down” by radio interference, so that is what I suggested. But, alas, the current generation of radio systems can sort signals and thereby avoid such jamming. Best plans of mice and men…

But I recall thinking at the time, and mentioning, that the day would probably come when paddlers would use them for scouting rapids and such. Seems that day has arrived.
There are stretches of river where a strong current sweeping around a blind turn, possibly immediately into a log jam or serious strainer, steep banks, lots of thorny vegetation on the shore… well, a scout by drone could be handy. That, too, is electronic cheating, of course, but could be a cheat in the interest of safety. Its not wholly unlike carrying a sat phone, GPS, or many of the other electronic aids many paddlers have come to accept as wise or even necessary to carry. There are those here, I would guess, who would argue that it is even irresponsible to paddle some areas without them. Drones could be arguably justified in the same way. (And I have to admit that I have harbored thoughts of shooting a drone video of Big Falls on the Jump River. It would present an entertaining maze problem to socially distanced screen bound paddlers…but then I’d need a drone.)

But I have to come down on the “con” side, though with some misgiving. Drones are an abomination to the RC aircraft hobby, again IMHO - they’re store-bought gizmos that the average hobbyist has no part in the design or building of. There is nothing of the operator in the device; no thought, no experimentation. Same with the Styrofoam scale models that everyone who flies seems to be flying now.
And cheating by avoiding scouting through wild rose and blackberry thickets on steep banks diminishes some of the challenge of the paddling endeavor. It “sanitizes” it. ( And might make it a bit safer.)

But I sure do understand the impulse to avoid such scouting. This is probably yet another issue on which reasonable people with good intentions can disagree. Good thing we’re all free to decide for ourselves, eh?

I sometimes miss my ski.

If you need a drone to scout rapids you need more skill, not more equipment.

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Sometimes I couldn’t believe I was getting paid. Sometimes they couldn’t pay me enough to be out there.

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And damn if I didn’t,
didn’t ever recover,
I’m a Disney dog gone,
in a room walled up with rubber,

Yes I went Goofy dot com,
when my paddle slipped the net,
and here now still I’m dronin’ on,
but ain’t bothered any wildlife yet.

I vaguely remember that thread, Mr. P. I think I also remember the linked response I found, wherein Dutch Police were training eagles to take out the drone. (Take that, Droney-Moany! Turnabout ain’t such fairplay, is it, you wildlife molester!) But, now I see there are articles where the eagle training didn’t go so well, and where others protested that the birds were being abused. Or worse, would get frustrated from so much time spent with untastey prey, and would take out their frustrations on little children’s skulls! Whaaaaa? Oh well.

Maybe if it were a flock of common pigeons they were training (“Stoop and poop, boys! Stoop and poop!”) folks might not foment so much umbrage. Of (or off) course, then all we’d be left with would be a bunch of crappy drones lying about everywhere, and flocks of anger-unabridged pigeons looking to beat the crap into something else, like slow rolling Smart Cars, or Dress-Like-a-Teletubbie Festival participants at the local Lions Club carnival grounds.

No, I guess we’ll need to come up with something else, if we’re ever to stymie this droning horde of drones now clouding our skies. I doubt we’ll be able to conscript this new invasive army of “murder” hornets. I hear they came here to organize as a union, and thus are likely to strike on us. My wife recently got into that Kombucha tea stuff. I tell ya, a decent wrist rocket hurling into the sky that jug floating, gelatinous disk thingy that looks like it took the day off from stalking Steve McQueen…well, just a flaking flake flak of that stuff flying into a drone ought to send its synched rotors into a crashin’ tizzy! But then there’s the fungal fallout. I’m not sure there’s that many more U. of Wisconsin grad students willing to scrape the stuff up so as to complete there doctoral engineering thesis in 100-pound canoe exoskeletons.

I think we’re gonna need a Flock of Seagulls.
No, not the big-haired, synthesizer pounding, one-or-two hits kind. I’m talkin’ about them bad boys that bailed out the salty lake Mormons! Take that, you gyroscopically guided loco locusts!

See? Still Goofy after all these years.

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And please stay that way. Its merely proof that the universe is unfolding as it should. Pcom is much less interesting when you’re absent.
But when I see drones for sale at the Apple Store, Target, Wall-Mart, everywhere… that is proof the universe is unfolding as it shouldn’t. And I have to drive to another state to find decent balsa anymore… At least we don’t have to worry about mowing over a nest of ground nesting murder drones. We have to look for the bright side of things these days.

Agreed - though I can remember not so long ago thinking exactly the same of GPS and cell/smart phones (still don’t have one), but there sure are plenty of reasonable people who won’t go anywhere anymore without them. What was once a luxury, becomes a convenience, becomes a necessity. And there’s no stopping it… as was said of Casey Jones’ train, “the fireman screams and the engine just gleams.”

I use mine for work to get photos/videos of boats, but honestly I can’t imagine bringing one paddling either for scouting or even for more than very occasional personal photography. Using a drone while in the boat is terrible as you really need to focus on one or the other, lest you crash both. And even as the one piloting the drone they’re very un-peaceful, and doubly annoying when someone else is flying it around you. They can make great images, but if I want to actually enjoy the water there’s no way I’m bringing it out.

I was going to get one just to play with. Then my son told me he is on his 4th and he’s a lot more coordinated than I am.

just like the bloody social media sites, farcebook,twater, etc etc i got rid of my farcebook account and claimed my life back :wink: :slight_smile: LOL


“Friends stopping Strangers, just to shake their hands.”
“I have seen were the wolf has slept by the silver stream.”

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“He read the river as others might read the symbols on a score, the blips on a radar scope, or signs of coming weather in cloud formations far away. He looked for the fat swell that meant hidden fang of stone, the choppy stretch of wavelets signifying rocks and shallow water, the shadow on the river that told of a gravel bar six inches under the surface, the hook and snag of submerged logs that could gash the bottom of his boat. He followed with his eyes the flecks of foam gliding steadily down the main stream, the almost invisible ripples and eddies on the river’s flanks. On the river, unlike the sea, the water moves; the waves remain in place.”
–Edward Abbey,
The Monkey Wrench Gang

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Flight of the sea birds
Scattered like lost words
Wheel to the storm and fly

Been out pulling garlic mustard and cutting honeysuckle between check-ins here. Social distancing routine, you see… But must now sleep…


Ah ha! Should have known you were a reader of the desert anarchist. Good on ya’.

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Just got done loading compost into the intended corn patch–Headed to bed myself!

Addendum: I hate dams almost as much as he did.

Here’s my thoughts on people harassing others (Or critters) with drones.

I can certainly see their benefit for scouting runs or routes or just for the photography, but harass me or critters and I may try to find a safe means to bring it down.

I see how drones could be very handy to have, and used “positively” by search and rescue teams. I base this on my experience as a search and rescue team member.
I’m sure there are many other “positive” uses.

However, I view the usage of drones by people I don’t know, as intrusive, and an invasion of my privacy; when they are above or on “my private property”. 6 shots of bird shot from one of my 12 gauges may be my response. I don’t see the difference between someone flying a drone above and around my home talking pictures of me or my family, and someone walking onto my private property with a camera and filming me. NOT prudent!

I don’t have any issue with someone flying one a safe distance from me if I’m paddling. I have nothing to hide. However when it becomes a safety concern to me; I will do whatever I can to alleviate my concern for my own personal safety.

Just because you have the money to buy a drone, and can get it airborne does NOT mean you have any skill in using one. And people who intentionally use them to harass people are just your typical, run of the mill asses.

I am not much concerned with FAA rules.


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With the development of drone swarm technology with drones capable of independent decision making and partnering with other drones to accomplish goals we’ll soon be thankful for the good old days when we could identify a drone visually and think about swatting it or shooting it down. The future may make Hitchcock’s The Birds look like a Disney movie.


I love that passage :+1:

I can only dream of reading a river that well.

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