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.
Never miss a local story.
“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.