Festivities were slowed down a bit by an illegal flying object at Kids’ Day Wednesday morning, the start of the annual Spirit of Boise Balloon Classic.
“We’re waiting on a drone,” Scott Spencer, event director, said over the loudspeakers to the crowd of families at Ann Morrison Park at the time the balloons were scheduled to take off, around 7:15 a.m.
The Balloon Classic uses its own drones to take videos and photos of the balloons. But those drones are authorized and restricted to a specific area, Spencer said.
The rogue drone was hovering directly behind Spencer, he said.
“I can’t inflate the balloons until the drone that’s behind me comes down,” Spencer said over the loudspeakers. “So I would say this to the drone operator that I know can hear me: You’re in violation of several federal regulations. There are fines. We can help ourselves to your drone, and you can go to jail. But more important than any of those things: I have a field full of children that want to go for a balloon ride.”
As he wrapped up that statement a drone flying behind him gradually descended toward the ground.
Consumer drones — now regulated by the FAA — remain popular. But their operators still make headlines off and on in cases where the machines are a nuisance.
Recently in Idaho, drones have interrupted aerial firefighting operations on the Pioneer Fire in Boise County. Federal regulations ground aircraft used to fight wildfires when a drone is spotted nearby, over fear of collisions with the low-flying fire planes.