Every now and then we hear reports that drones are hovering disturbingly close to New York's airports, or that some jerk is shining a laser pointer at planes coming in for a landing. But now we have some disturbing numbers to attach the the phenomena, care of the New York Post.
The tabloid reports that "about 50" drones have appeared around John F. Kennedy and LaGuardia airports this year, including three outside JFK in three consecutive days straddling July and August. And despite a federal law banning drones within five miles of airports or above 400 feet, Queens prosecutors' pledge to imprison scofflaw hobbyists, and the New York municipal code making it a misdemeanor to fly anything in the city without permission, no one has been caught or punished for endangering the passenger planes.
That is in part, a law enforcement official told the Post, because unlike a laser pointer's beam, there is little tying a drone to its operator, and offenders can hide within a massive area as their remote-controlled gizmos threaten to down flights like so many mechanized geese.
Laser danger is also on the rise, with 95 incidents so far this year around JFK, LaGuardia, and Newark, including 12 on the night of July 15th at Newark. There were 89 reports of lasers affecting planes at the airports in all of 2014, the Post writes.
Police did ticket a guy who freaked out office workers by flying a drone over Brooklyn Heights on Thursday, and the officers confiscated his toy.
The only solution we can see to the mechanized menace is an automated fleet of counter-drone raptors to bat the offending whirligigs out of the sky. Maybe they should be equipped with guns for good measure. What could go wrong?