Drones above airports pose threat in Buffalo, nationally

July 10, 2014 - Cumming -  Greg Ledford (right), director of UAV Technology at Atlanta Hobby, and Jonathan LaLiberty, a UAV technician, prepare to test fly a DJI S1000.  The S1000 is designed for professional aerial photography and  cinematography. Atlanta Hobby in Cumming is a supplier of DJI/Multirotor products and other unmanned aircraft, and has customers all over the world.   As the FAA gradually works toward legalizing commercial drones, Georgia businesses and officials are already gearing up for the day. Several small businesses are already working on drone technology, equipment and military applications; the agriculture industry is eager to explore the possibilities of drones for crop monitoring; GDOT has studied the use of drones for traffic monitoring; and Georgia Tech plans to lead a team to compete to be named a Center of Excellence for unmanned aircraft research. Meanwhile, the state has not yet passed legislation to regulate drones and protect privacy as other states have.   BOB ANDRES  / BANDRES@AJC.COM

WASHINGTON – Twice this summer, it appeared in the skies above the runways at Buffalo Niagara International Airport, an unwanted intruder about the size of a seagull in the airspace that’s reserved for planes full of passengers and cargo.

No, it wasn’t a UFO.

It was a UAS, or unmanned aircraft system, otherwise known as a drone.

Nobody knows who was flying it, or why.

But it didn’t belong there – and it could have caused great damage, or worse, if it had collided with a jet engine or a plane’s windshield, said Brian P. Hearing, co-founder of DroneShield, a Washington-based company that aims to protect airspace from such intrusions.

The two drone episodes at the Buffalo airport are included in a new Federal Aviation Administration database of unwanted drone sightings.

Told of the two incidents, Hearing said: “I don’t have words to describe how stupid that is.”

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