The Federal Aviation Administration says it has counseled the pilot of a drone that hindered Bighorn Fire suppression efforts in the early days of the inferno. That heavy penalty, counseling verbally and in writing, should put the fear into drone owners who selfishly want a birds' eye view of future blazes. Not for a second.
Over seven weeks this summer, the Bighorn Fire burned 120,000 acres and cost taxpayers $37 million to fight. Hundreds of firefighters risked their lives, and Tucsonans endured the pain of thousands of saguaros left dead or charred and untold human and wildlife disruption that will last for years.
And the drone operator is counseled.
Will counseling be enough if an air tanker or helicopter goes down in a collision with a drone?
Surely investigators from the FAA, Forest Service and Federal Bureau of Investigation can press charges in the public interest. Who do they think they are protecting?
Disclaimer: As submitted to the Arizona Daily Star.