Boise & Garden City

Drones briefly interrupt Spirit of Boise Night Glow event

When lighted hot air balloons took to the sky at Ann Morrison Park Saturday night, so did several drones — and the popular event halted for a few minutes.

"It took me about three minutes to get them out of the sky," Spirit of Boise Balloon Classic producer/founder Scott Spencer said Monday. "I took the mic from the MC and said we wouldn't light the balloons again until the drones landed."

The drone operators quickly complied, and the Night Glow event, which Spencer said drew about 30,000 people, continued. Although the drones likely were only angling for a close look at the balloon action, he said they represented an intolerable security risk.

"We don't know who's operating it, we don't know what their skill level is, we don't know what they're carrying ... and they're over a crowd of 30,000 people," Spencer said.

Members of the crowd were shouting for the drones to come down, he said. The three uninvited drones all went up at the beginning of the event but in three different areas, he said. The Spirit of Boise also had an official drone operator taking video, he said.

This past weekend's event was Spencer's 39th summer balloon event in Boise and the first to attract drones, he said. But with the popularity of the small unmanned aircraft, he said wasn't surprised they turned up, despite pre-event publicity urging people not to bring their drones.