A drone struck a Ferris wheel near downtown Seattle’s Pier 57 on Wednesday afternoon. Although the remote-controlled device did not damage the Great Wheel, or cause any injuries, it destroyed a patio table when it crashed to the ground.
Police spokesman Mark Jamieson confirmed the drone was eventually located and taken as evidence. However, authorities have not identified a suspect.
Great Wheel security manager Wayman Earls III said he witnessed the drone crashing into the Ferris wheel. In his opinion, it looked like the operator “may have been trying to fly the drone through the [Ferris wheel’s] spokes.”
As reported by NBC News, the ride and patio area were closed following the crash. However, they both reopened after they were deemed safe.
Unmanned aerial vehicles, which are commonly referred to as drones, are becoming increasingly popular as they are capable of capturing interesting photos and video footage, which would be otherwise impossible.
Although the devices are popular, they are banned in many public places, including the downtown Seattle waterfront. In addition to privacy issues, drones are a serious concern as they can damage property and cause injury to people and animals.
In June 2014, the National Park Service announced visitors are prohibited from landing, launching, and operating unmanned aerial vehicles on all lands and waters administered by the organization.
In recent years, national park visitors have lodged numerous complaints as drones have become a significant nuisance. In addition to being loud and unsightly, drones are blamed for disturbing herds of wildlife.
National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis said the ban is not meant to deter guests. Instead, he hopes the ban will help maintain the peace and tranquility of our nation’s parks.
“… we have serious concerns about the negative impact that flying unmanned aircraft is having in parks, so we are prohibiting their use until we can determine the most appropriate policy that will protect park resources and provide all visitors with a rich experience.”
Although the ban was enacted in June, guests are still using unmanned aerial vehicles in national parks.
In August 2014, a drone operated by Theodorus Van Vliet crashed into Yellowstone National Park’s Grand Prismatic Spring. As he violated park rules, the Netherlands native was “charged with several violations of federal law.” If convicted he could face a $5,000 fine and up to six months in jail.
As discussed in an official statement, park officials are unable to locate the drone without entering the natural spring. As disturbing the spring could cause irreversible damage, scientists are attempting to determine what the drone was made of and whether it will pose a serious risk.
The U.S. Department of Transportation and the FAA are also taking steps to restrict the use of drones. Last month, the FAA announced plans to require hobbyists to register any unmanned aerial vehicles, or drones, with the government.
Although there are suggested safety guidelines, the laws governing the use of drones are difficult to enforce.
— Region 8 News (@Region8News) November 12, 2015
As reported by the Washington Post, passenger plane pilots have been reporting “100 sightings of or close calls with rogue drones” every month. The suggested registration requirement is expected to deter at least some of the unsafe practices. It will also allow officials to identify the owners if the drone crashes or causes an issue.
In 2015, hobbyists are expected to purchase an estimated 700,000 unmanned aerial vehicles — a majority of which are outfitted with cameras.
— NBC10 Philadelphia (@NBCPhiladelphia) November 12, 2015
It is unclear whether officials will ever identify the operator of the drone that hit the Farris wheel in Seattle. However, authorities are happy nobody was injured in the bizarre incident.