In the aftermath of the destructive tornadoes that struck Mayflower, Ark. and Bessemer, Ala. Sunday and Monday, unmanned aerial vehicles, or drones, were dispatched to survey the damage.
These aircraft provide unparalleled, sweeping views of the twisters’ wreckage:
Here’s the video from Mayflower, Ark.:
And here’s the video from Bessemer, Ala.:
As useful as such footage may be for assessing and reporting the scope of damage and identifying where assistance may be required following tornadoes, drone flight raises security and safety concerns from the standpoint of the Federal Aviation Adminstration (FAA).
A piece in Forbes by Greg Neal today notes the FAA technically prohibits such drone flight, but that there is some ambiguity in the specific rules. He alludes to a looming face-off between the FAA and first amendment advocates.
“As drone technology continues to spread into the hands of more journalists we can expect to see more questions raised about how far the FAA’s authority extends, and what happens when that claimed authority intersects with First Amendment rights,” Neal writes.