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  • LUNA ROSSA RESPONDS

    America’s Cup: Luna Rossa threatens withdrawal over boat change

    by Richard Gladwell, Sail-World.com NZL Mar 26, 2015, 15:58:00 (EDT)

    Luna Rossa Swordfish and Luna Rossa Piranha both on the water. The future is foiling – AC45s to be modified; America’s Cup World Series to continue into 2018
    Guilain Grenier

    The Challenger of Record, long time America’s Cup competitor, Luna Rossa have threatened to withdraw from the America’s Cup if the mooted Protocol change to a smaller boat is implemented.

    Emirates Team NZ, via social media, say they have supported the Italian stand against the boat change. ‘Emirates Team New Zealand agrees with Luna Rossa Challenge . It would be unfair to change the rules at this stage unless all America’s Cup teams agree to do so.’ says a statement on their Facebook page, today.

    The previous day the Team wrote:’ the idea of boat size reduction is not new. Emirates Team New Zealand suggested this last year. Since then time has passed with teams well advanced in their design process now and any ideas around change will need the full consultation and support of all the teams.’

    The latest Kiwi stance pits the two longest standing teams in the America’s Cup against two first time teams, plus Artemis Racing and the Defender.

    Contrary to other media comment the Protocol Amendment is for a new class of boat – in the 47 to 54ft range, and not a foiling AC45 as has been suggested.

    The initiative for the change is believed to have come from Larry Ellison as part of a move to make the America’s Cup more sustainable and for the class to be adopted by the teams for future America’s Cups and avoid the boat changing that has marked the more recent editions.

    Initially both Oracle Team USA and Emirates Team New Zealand backed a move to a smaller boat (AC54) after the AC62 had been announced, and the discussion has been ongoing at the last two or three Competitor Meetings for the 35th America’s Cup.

    The new AC5X rule is being drafted by the same group that produced the AC62 rule and is expected to be just a scaling of that rule.

    At this stage there is no indication of how the Nationality rule will be applied, which requires two of the eight crew to be either Nationals of the country of the club of the team, or have passports for that country. The minimum number was initially set at 25% of the crew which neatly transposed to two crew members when the AC62 had eight crew. It is expected that the crew size will reduce to six, but that the Nationality requirement will remain at two nationals.

    Earlier today Luna Rossa issued a media release stating:

    Team Luna Rossa Challenge is distinctly opposed to the proposal – announced today on the official web site of the America’s Cup – to change the Class Rule for the 35th America’s Cup and therefore the boat that was previously accepted by all challengers on June 5th 2014.

    Luna Rossa does not believe that a sporting event should be disputed in a courtroom and does not intend to initiate a lengthy litigation process that would only bring prejudice to the event.

    If the principle of unanimity of all challengers required to change the Class Rule were not to be respected Luna Rossa will be obliged to withdraw from the 35th America’s Cup.

    Team Luna Rossa trusts that the Defender will quickly announce a public clarification, also to avoid jeopardizing the organization of the America’s Cup World Series – Cagliari – Sardinia event planned to take place from June 4 to June 7, 2015.

    Contrary to statements issued by one team, Changes to the Protocol only require the consent of the majority of the teams together with the Defender, Golden Gate Yacht Club or their commercial arm America’s Cup Events Committee.

    After the withdrawal of the initial Challenger of Record, Hamilton Island Yacht Club, Luna Rossa stepped into the role as the next to challenge.

    Patrizio Bertelli spells out his view of the 2013 America’s Cup in Auckland in October 2012

    The Italians magnanimously waived their effective right of veto of change under the Protocol, instead ceding that right to the majority decision of the Challengers, of which there are currently five.

    Given that three of the Challengers – two of which are first time Challengers – have indicated their support for the move, it could be a done deal, unless cooler heads prevail.

    Had the Italians not given away their effective right of veto, they would have had the ability to stop this move dead in its tracks, now they are locked into the decision of the majority – two of which are first time challengers. Artemis Racing sailed just four races in the Challenger Rounds for the 34th America’s Cup.

    The first of the America’s Cup World Series events scheduled for Cagliari, Italy for early June would probably not proceed without the support of Luna Rossa.

    In a further legal complication the mooted change may also fail on other grounds in the Protocol, which required the Defender to publish the AC62 Class Rule prior to the opening of the Entry Period, and having published this Rule, and met this deadline, it would require regatta organisers to re-write history to give effect to the proposed change in boat.

    A clarification of the matter is expected by the end of March, with a further Competitor Meeting being held on Tuesday.

    The dispute cannot be resolved by the Arbitration Panel for the 35th America’s Cup, as none has been appointed. The issues between Cup organisers and the International Sailing Federation also appear to be unresolved.

    The 35th America’s Cup is due to be sailed in just 27 months, with the first event in the America’s Cup World Series scheduled to take place in just three months. The date and venue pf the Qualifier series, which in turn triggers the launch date for the AC62’s has not been formally announced.



  • SMALLER IS CHEAPER

    America’s Cup organizers want smaller, cheaper boats

    AP Sports WriterMarch 25, 2015 Updated 14 hours ago

     — In another sign that billionaire Larry Ellison’s vision for the America’s Cup is too expensive, organizers say they want to reduce the size of the boats to be sailed in the 2017 regatta in Bermuda.

    While intended to help some struggling syndicates, the unprecedented move would also reduce the status and prestige of sailing’s marquee regatta, not to mention the sizzle generated when the 2013 America’s Cup was sailed in cutting-edge, 72-foot catamarans.

    And it could be troublesome. Not all teams are believed to be in favor of going from plans to sail the 2017 America’s Cup in 62-foot catamarans to apparently sailing it in 45-foot catamarans.

    A news release issued late Wednesday said the changes are being drafted and teams will be asked to vote before the end of March. Normally, a decision like this must be approved unanimously. It’s believed Italy’s Luna Rossa is against the change.

    Harvey Schiller, the America’s Cup commercial commissioner, said in the news release that reducing the size of the boat was discussed last year, but only Oracle and Emirates Team New Zealand were in favor.

    Now that teams have seen the new souped-up 45s on the water, “there is a clear majority of competitors who support the idea,” Schiller said. “I’d like to be able to say we have unanimous support from all the teams but that is not the case.”

    Schiller did not return a phone call and email seeking further comment.

    At the time Bermuda won the right to host the 2017 America’s Cup by pledging up to $77 million in financial support, plans called for the regatta to be sailed in 62-foot cats. That would reduce costs in part since they require fewer sailors. Some teams have already started designing their 62-foot catamarans.

    If teams switch to 45-footers, that’s the same size boats used in warmup regattas prior to the 2013 America’s Cup and in warmup regattas this year and next. It’s also a foot longer than the minimum size allowed by the 19th century Deed of Gift.

    Two-time defending champion Oracle Team USA, which is owned by Ellison, has blurred the traditional lines between the defender and challengers, so it wasn’t clear who initiated the latest talk of reducing the size of the boats. Despite being one of the world’s richest men, it’s believed that Ellison has grown weary of pumping hundreds of millions of dollars into the America’s Cup and wants it to become more self-sustaining.

    But teams and the event authority have struggled to raise money. There’s been speculation that two of the current five foreign challengers could drop out because of the staggering cost of competing, which would leave an embarrassingly small field of three challengers like in 2013. Team Australia dropped out last summer, citing the high costs.

    Skippers from three foreign challengers — Ben Ainslie Racing of Britain, Team France and Artemis Racing of Sweden — were quoted in the news release as being in favor of the move to a smaller boat.

    Team France skipper Franck Cammas called it “a game-changer. We will be able to have a very competitive team for about half the budget.”

    Ainslie and Artemis’ Iain Percy alluded to the change helping the future of the America’s cup.

    However, neither Emirates Team New Zealand, whose stunning collapse in 2013 allowed Oracle to keep the Auld Mug, nor Luna Rossa were mentioned in the release.

    A Luna Rossa spokesman didn’t immediately return an email seeking comment.

    Team New Zealand boss Grant Dalton referred to a statement on the team’s Facebook page. That statement said the Kiwis suggested a reduction in boat size last year. “Since then time has passed with teams well advanced in their design process now and any ideas around change will need the full consultation and support of all the teams,” the statement said.

    A smaller boat could save Team New Zealand. Struggling to raise money, the Kiwis could be forced to drop out if they don’t land a qualifying regatta in Auckland. European teams are known to be unhappy about the cost of shipping 62-foot catamarans halfway around the world to New Zealand. The 45-foot cats are easier to ship because they can be disassembled and loaded into containers.

    Read more here: http://www.fresnobee.com/2015/03/25/4446961_americas-cup-organizers-want-smaller.html?rh=1#storylink=cpy



  • SPEED OVER LAND

    AL 010 (Large)

    America’s Landsailing Cup: Speeds that pucker you up

    by Eric Sorensen
    As a wet boat racer for 40+ years I was intrigued by the simplicity of landsailing, and when the Landsailing World Championship came to Smith Creek Playa in Nevada for July of 2014, I went. One had to be a bit nuts to think going to a desert in Nevada in the middle of July would be fun. But that experience set the hook.

    Duncan Harrison, editor of Dirt Boat Magazine, has now reeled me in to America’s premier landsailing event – America’s Landsailing Cup 2015 – this week on March 21-28. As one of the top Manta Twin class racers, he bought a used boat and loaned it to me for the week and gave me amazing coaching and tips to go fast.

    There are five classes of dirt boats racing with speeds on the big boats already hitting 80 mph in 29 knot winds. The largest class is the Manta Twin with 36 boats registered. There is even an enterprise renting non-race boats if you just want to go out and sail fast on the playa.

    The race course for the America’s Landsailing Cup is in California but just. It is held at Lake Ivanpah, which is contiguous to the border town of Primm, NV. This town is basically a casino and shopping mall construct with the only store in town at a camp ground for RVs. However, one can get a room and ignore the bells and clanging in the smoky casino.

    My early first day impression had 25 knot puffs, dirt in the air, and speed that puckers you up. Thirty minutes was a good workout. Love the shower in my room at the end of the day! I was covered in grit and grinning from ear to ear.

    It is likely I will be slow in the first race. My goal is to not crash into the desert or anyone else and finish the race. After that race we will see how competitive I can get. For starts, everyone lines up sitting still on the starting line which is a string on the dirt, pointing more or less 90 degrees to the wind. On ‘go’ we all sheet in and foot off for speed, hardening up as we accelerate.

    We race toward a weather mark, and as tacks are slow, conventional wisdom is to overstand the mark. When you reach off a bit the speed just HONKS on in the heavy air!

    When rounding the weather mark and heading ‘down’ in a broad reach the boats just take off! The back tires jump sideways with the push and steering with your feet gets second nature very quickly. Flying a weather wheel is very normal but a bit tough to get used to.

    Right of way is easy. Boats on your right have the right of way. Forget port and starboard tacks. Mark rounding will get crowded in the large Manta Twin class. This is thinking in fast-think mode as the race lap only take 10-15 minutes. These races are tougher on the body than I had thought they would be. I was pretty tuckered out as were most of the racers.

    I was advised to be careful of boats that don’t have sail numbers as they may just be out for some casual fun and not really know how to race. Good tip!

    We had a race in conditions my mentor Duncan described as “somewhere between death and survivable.” He congratulated me on my finish … my baptism by fire. I was DFL except beating the dude who flipped over. Other boats had speeds over 55 mph downwind, and since no one moved away from me on the downwind leg, I am claiming to be in the 50 mph club. Cra cra!

    I changed my starting technique, now stacking up behind some of the boats at the favored end of the line. It was helpful to see them in front of me so I could point parallel with them and keep the good speed. I was middle of the fleet at the first mark and then had a run in the mid to upper 30 mph range but lost the laminar flow at the bottom mark. Must remember to overstand the mark more. Once the flow is gone the advice is to go to weather to reacquire it and then bear off and go fast!

     



  • CARINA MODEL AND SAFETY AT SEA

    The safety at sea seminar, another step in preparation for the upcoming transatlantic race. one more thing checked off the list.

    I managed to catch the presentation of the as built model of “Carina” by robert and Jonathan Nye to the New York Yacht Club. A memory of the legacy of “Carina” and the Nye family.

    MARION-BERMUDA 2015
    MARION-BERMUDA 2015
    INFLATED RAFT
    INFLATED RAFT
    CARINA AS SHE WAS
    CARINA AS SHE WAS
    JONATHAN NYE AT HARBOR COURT
    JONATHAN NYE AT HARBOR COURT


  • “SANTANA”

    SANTANA TRANSOM
    SANTANA TRANSOM

    santana 3 20 15  63689

    SANTANA
    SANTANA

    santana 3 20 15  63692santana 3 20 15  63689

     

    ‘Bogie’s Boat’ to be restored

    Portsmouth company will spend the next 18 months working on Humphrey Bogart’s former boat

    PORTSMOUTH — A 55-foot schooner known affectionately as “Bogie’s Boat” after its former owner, the late movie star Humphrey Bogart, arrived recently in Melville for a complete refit and restoration.

    The yacht built in 1935 arrived at Loughborough Marine Interests LLC about three weeks ago after being hauled by truck in a custom-built cradle from San Francisco.

    “We will be embarking on a huge refit and restoration of the yacht starting next month,” said Joseph Loughborough, owner of the company. “We basically have to take the boat apart and rebuild it stick by stick.”

    Getting the contract for the restoration of the yacht, which Bogart named Santana, is very exciting because it is so historically significant, Loughborough said.

    The owners of the boat surveyed it in California to find faults but they missed a lot of things that need replacing, he said.

    “We have done a couple of her sister ships so we have a pretty good idea where to look a little harder,” he said.

    He estimated the refit and restoration would take 18 months with crew of eight or 10 workers or even 15 experienced workers in some instances. The work is likely to cost about $1.5 million.

    “She is going to be gorgeous but there is a lot of work to do,” Loughborough said of the Santana. “I mean really a lot of work.”

    Much of the significant history of the yacht is connected to the period from 1945 to 1957 when Bogart owned and sailed it. Although his love affair with Lauren Bacall is legendary, his son Stephen said Santana was really his father’s great love affair.

    “Apparently Lauren Bacall wasn’t very fond of the boat,” Loughborough said. “This was the boys’ boat.”

    That assessment is confirmed by a quote often attributed to Bogart: “The trouble with having dames on board is you can’t pee over the side.”

    He is said to have spent 35 to 45 weekends a year aboard Santana and frequently raced the yacht.

    Since Bogart’s death in 1957, the Santana has changed hands many times. It has been featured in articles in Cruising World in 2005 and Sports Illustrated in 1981.

    Until last year, it was owned by Paul Kaplan, part owner of one of the largest boatyards in San Francisco Bay.

    Kaplan sold it in October to a group with connections to Nantucket, Mass. The group had it hauled to Melville for restoration. Loughborough said the group wants to remain anonymous.

    “These guys say they are not going to do much racing, but as soon as it’s done they will be racing,” he predicted.

    They are from California and intend to bring the yacht back to the West Coast, he said.

    This is not the first time the Santana has been in Rhode Island.

    The Santana sailed in the 1938 Newport to Bermuda Race and won the schooner trophy. It returned 30 years later, but had less success.

    Loughborough said his previous experience refitting two other yachts built by yacht designer Sparkman & Stephens helped him win the contract for the Santana.

    A growing talent pool in the Newport area also helped.

    “If someone was going to rebuild a wooden boat 20 or 25 years ago, everyone would say, ‘Go to Maine,’” Loughborough said. “I have been here since 1986 and the whole classic boat movement has kind of generated a talent pool on this island and it’s just getting better and better.”

    He cited the graduates of the International Yacht Restoration School in Newport as a factor in the development of that pool.

    Loughborough pointed out some of the work that will be needed to restore the Santana. The teak deck and mahogany furniture are worn. Teak stands up better than mahogany, he said, so he might use it to replace the mahogany. Stainless steel pieces on the yacht will be replaced with brass as was originally used. The new owners want it to be as original as possible, he said.

    They may even replace the refrigerator on board with an ice box.

    “We will remove every other plank so we can see the framing,” he said. “Anything that is preservable on the original boat we will preserve.”



  • FRACKING AND THE NAVAJO

    Fracking will ruin sacred, preserved sites in the ‘American cradle of civilization’ – lawsuit

    Published time: March 14, 2015 16:37
    Edited time: March 15, 2015 08:39 

    Anasazi Indian ruins (Photo from wikipedia.org)

    Anasazi Indian ruins (Photo from wikipedia.org)

    A Navajo advocacy group has asked a federal judge to halt hydraulic fracking permits in the San Juan Basin of New Mexico, claiming that drilling threatens a historic UNESCO heritage site considered sacred by Navajo, Hopi and Pueblo peoples.

    Diné Citizens Against Ruining Our Environment and three other groups have sued the US Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and US Department of Interior, calling on a federal judge to vacate the 130 fracking permits issued by the BLM and enjoin fracking activity in the Mancos Shale of the San Juan Basin until the BLM adheres to the National Environmental Policy Act and the National Historic Preservation Act, according to Courthouse News.

    The 4,600-square-mile San Juan Basin of New Mexico’s Four Corners region is home to Chaco Culture National Historical Park, which includes the Anasazi ruins and other archeological remains of structures that were among North America’s largest around 1,000 years ago.

    Chaco and the surrounding areas, known as the “American cradle of civilization,” are considered a UNESCO World Heritage site. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization calls the area “remarkable for its monumental public and ceremonial buildings and its distinctive architecture – it has an ancient urban ceremonial centre that is unlike anything constructed before or since.”

    Chaco is on top of the Mancos Shale, believed to harbor crude oil and natural gas supplies. The Diné – meaning ‘Navajo’ in their Athapaskan language – say the horizontal drilling and fracking could damage historic sites in the area, both inside and outside the national park, as well as contaminate the nearby groundwater.

    The Diné – along with the San Juan Citizens Alliance, Wildearth Guardians, and the Natural Resources Defense Council – claim that BLM studies on fracking’s impact in the region have been shielded from the public. Without transparency, the drilling should not go on as planned, they said.

    READ MORE: US geological agency calls for data sharing on fracking-induced tremors

    To unleash oil or natural gas from shale or other areas, the hydraulic fracturing – or fracking – process requires blasting large volumes of highly pressurized water, sand, and other chemicals into layers of rock. Once used, toxic fracking wastewater is then either stored in deep underground wells, disposed of in open pits for evaporation, sprayed into waste fields, or used over again.

    Fracking sites have proliferated immensely across the US amid the current oil and gas boom in North America. Though the costs of fracking – including groundwater contamination, heightened earthquakeactivity, exacerbation of drought conditions, and a variety of health concerns for humans and the local environment – have given many Americans pause, as they must deal with the effects while government regulators allow industry to drill like mad.

    READ MORE: Living near fracking sites deteriorates health – study

    The BLM’s management plan for public lands in the Four Corners region triggered a wave of resistance, as 173,000 people urged Department of Interior – the parent agency to the BLM – to “protect these unique places from oil and gas development,” according to Earth Island Journal.

    “The land in the Chaco Canyon area has lots of sacred places. The corporations don’t care. They come and go and tear up the places. They do their thing and away they go—and somebody else, somewhere else is getting rich off this land, not us,” Sarah Jane White, a Diné environmental activist, told DeSmogBlog in January.

    “Fracking doesn’t benefit the Native American people.”

    According to The Daily Times, the BLM’s Farmington, New Mexico Field Office district manager Victoria Barr said her staff is expected to finalize the area’s resource management plan sometime later this year.



  • CHANGING WEATHER PATTERNS

     

    NASA: California Has One Year of Water Left

    Uvas Reservoir, California Drought
    Uvas Reservoir, Santa Clara County, California. DON DEBOLD/FLICKR
    FILED UNDER: U.S.DroughtCalifornia

    Plagued by prolonged drought, California now has only enough water to get it through the next year, according to NASA.

    In an op-ed published Thursday by the Los Angeles Times, Jay Famiglietti, a senior water scientist at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California, painted a dire picture of the state’s water crisis. California, he writes, has lost around 12 million acre-feet of stored water every year since 2011. In the Sacramento and San Joaquin river basins, the combined water sources of snow, rivers, reservoirs, soil water and groundwater amounted to a volume that was 34 million acre-feet below normal levels in 2014. And there is no relief in sight.

    “As our ‘wet’ season draws to a close, it is clear that the paltry rain and snowfall have done almost nothing to alleviate epic drought conditions. January was the driest in California since record-keeping began in 1895. Groundwater and snowpack levels are at all-time lows” Famiglietti writes. “We’re not just up a creek without a paddle in California, we’re losing the creek too.”

    On Wednesday, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced that one-third of the monitoring stations in California’s Cascades and Sierra Nevada mountains have recorded the lowest snowpack ever measured.

    “Right now the state has only about one year of water supply left in its reservoirs, and our strategic backup supply, groundwater, is rapidly disappearing,” Famiglietti writes.

    He criticized Californian officials for their lack of long-term planning for how to cope with this drought, and future droughts, beyond “staying in emergency mode and praying for rain.”

    Last month, new research by scientists at NASA, Cornell University and Columbia University pointed to a “remarkably drier future” for California and other Western states amid a rapidly-changing climate. “Megadroughts,” the study’s authors wrote, are likely to begin between 2050 and 2099, and could each last between 10 years and several decades.

    With that future in mind, Famiglietti says, “immediate mandatory water rationing” should be implemented in the state, accompanied by the swift formation of regulatory agencies to rigorously monitor groundwater and ensure that it is being used in a sustainable way—as opposed to the “excessive and unsustainable” groundwater extraction for agriculture that, he says, is partly responsible for massive groundwater losses that are causing land in the highly irrigated Central Valley to sink by one foot or more every year.

    Various local ordinances have curtailed excessive water use for activities like filling fountains and irrigating lawns. But planning for California’s “harrowing future” of more and longer droughts “will require major changes in policy and infrastructure that could take decades to identify and act upon,” Famiglietti writes. “Today, not tomorrow, is the time to begin.”



  • DRONE WARS

    It has been on the minds of anyone who photographs and is enthralled with the idea of aerial photography. Here is the first blow. Personally, I am dying to own one. On top of it all they drones (quadcopter) keep getting better.

    The FAA Says You Can’t Post Drone Videos on YouTube

    Written by

    JASON KOEBLER

    If you fly a drone and post footage on YouTube, you could end up with a letter from the Federal Aviation Administration.

    Earlier this week, the agency sent a legal notice to Jayson Hanes, a Tampa-based drone hobbyist who has been posting drone-shot videos online for roughly the last year.

    The FAA said that, because there are ads on YouTube, Hanes’s flights constituted a commercial use of the technology subject to stricter regulations and enforcement action from the agency. It said that if he did not stop flying “commercially,” he could be subject to fines or sanctions.

    “This office has received a complaint regarding your use of an unmanned aerial vehicle (aka drone) for commercial purposes referencing your video on the website youtube.com as evidence,” the letter reads. “After a review of your website, it does appear that the complaint is valid.”

    The hobby use of drones and other model aircraft has never been regulated by the FAA, but the agency has been adamant about making a distinction between hobby and commercial use, which has led to much confusion over the last couple years.

    Where, exactly, does commercial use begin and hobby use end, for instance? If you fly for fun, but happen to sell your footage later, were you flying for a “commercial purpose?” What if you give it to a news organization that runs it on a television station that has ads on it? What if you upload it to YouTube and Google happens to put an ad on it? What if you decide to put an ad on it?

    The letter makes clear that at least some in the FAA (this one was sent by Michael Singleton, an aviation safety inspector in the FAA’s Tampa office) take a very wide view of what is “commercial.”

    “With this letter the FAA is claiming that drone-obtained art created by a hobbyist becomes retroactively ‘commercial’ if it is ever sold, or if, as here, it is displayed on a website that offers monetization in the form of advertising,” Peter Sachs, a Connecticut-based attorney specializing in drone issues told me. “Selling art is unquestionably one’s right, and the government is forbidden from infringing upon that right.”

    Hanes told me that his videos are technically “monetized” on YouTube but that he has never received a payment from Google and the revenue he’s technically earned from Google’s ads is less than a dollar.

    “I’ve been flying only for fun, as a hobby,” he told me.

    FAA spokesperson Les Dorr told me he is looking into specifics of the case, but said that, often, competitors will alert local enforcement offices about drone use. The question then, is can someone really have a “competitor” if they’re not flying commercially?

    “In general, whenever we receive a complaint about an unauthorized UAS operation, we contact the operator and educate them about the regulations so they can comply,” Dorr said. “It’s not uncommon for a competitor who is not flying a UAS to alert us to such operations. I don’t know if that was the case here.”

    Hanes’s case is without precedent. The FAA ?has sent many cease-and-desist letters to commercial drone operators, but those letters have mainly been in response to registered businesses that advertise drone-for-hire services on their websites. To my knowledge, the agency hasn’t sent letters like this to hobbyists. Hanes’s website redirects to his YouTube page, and he offers no traditional commercial services.

    The FAA has said it ?has the ability to fine or otherwise enforce certain restrictions on drones (which have not yet been tested in court). In the past, those fines ?have been as much as $10,000. Those restrictions are supposed to stop pilots from flying over people and from flying above 500 feet. Some of Hanes’s videos show him flying in ways that could potentially run afoul of those restrictions.

    Dorr, who was not involved in sending the letter to Hanes, reviewed some of his videos in response to my inquiry. He says it’s possible the letter was sent because of those potential safety violations. It’s worth mentioning that the FAA’s drone enforcement strategy is a bit of a mess. Regional safety offices decide initial enforcement, often without contacting FAA headquarters or ?considering things such as the First Amendment.

    “It would behoove the FAA Office of Chief Counsel to make it abundantly clear to all aviation safety inspectors that the First Amendment is alive and well,” Sachs said.

    The fact that Hanes received a letter or was contacted by the FAA, then, isn’t nuts. The FAA is well within its rights to at least tell a drone operator to not fly dangerously.

    But why, then, is the FAA hiding behind the sham argument that he’s flying “commercially”? And, if the agency decides that putting videos on YouTube is a business use of a drone, what does it mean for the thousands of other people who post drone videos online?

    Update: The FAA says it’s now looking further into how its safety inspectors send letters like this.

    “The FAA’s goal is to promote voluntary compliance by educating individual UAS operators about how they can operate safely under current regulations and laws,” the agency said. “The FAA’s guidance calls for inspectors to notify someone with a letter and then follow up. The guidance does not include language about advertising. The FAA will look into the matter.”




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