Event Organisers Use Helicopter to Knock an Uninvited Drone Out of the Sky

Footage posted online shows the bizarre moment a helicopter was enlisted to knock a drone out of the sky, after it was flying unauthorised during a surfing event in Hawaii.

As you can see from the video, the drone is flying close by the participants on awaiting jetskis. Staff went to extremes of removing the drone with the downwash of one of its standby helicopters. The crew resorted to such measures after several spectators unsuccessfully tried to eradicate the drone by throwing swimming gear and fins at it.

Speaking to PetaPixel, tipster Andrew Grose said: “Like most sporting organizations the World Surf League (WSL) has been known to be quite protective in terms of its intellectual property rights. This is especially with regard to its copyright laws, making professional filming or photographing within contest areas almost impossible unless directly contracted by the WSL.”

Grose acknowledged that the drone operator was flying their drone in a public place, and thus was doing so legally, he also drew attention to the potential dangers associated with flying it directly above competition participants, as well as close to the helicopter.

The footage has divided viewers, with some questioning the right of the surfers to destroy someone else’s equipment. Check out the video for the exact moment the incident unfolded, and decide for yourself who was in the right.

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43 Comments

William Howell's picture

Dude, I love the super sexy 70’s porn music; Yeah, I’m the plumber ma’am, here to unclog your pipes! Wink, wink, nudge, nudge.😍

Hm, porn music ...

It is actually "Entrance of the Gladiators" by Czech composer Julius Fučík, composed in 1897 — just in case you wanted to know.

I've never heard it in a porn context, though, but there may be a good reason for that: the amount of porn music I've listened to. Nudge, nudge, wink, wink, you know what I mean.

William Howell's picture

Well that guy had a rockin’ base line and very sultry backing voices!

Rob Mynard's picture

I have no idea what music you were listening to but the audio on that video is not Entrance of the Gladiators. :-D

Tim Ericsson's picture

Second half of the video is

Rob Mynard's picture

Cool, I didn't listen that far in.

The music at the beginning was very 70's porn-funk.

The beginning music was so porn-y!

Mr Hogwallop's picture

It did have the bow chika bow wow beat going...

So much idiocy going on in the video it's amazing. Throwing things at a drone LoL. I wonder if the FAA talked to the chopper pilot...
All to protect "copyright"?! Me taking a photo of something does not violate copyright, what I do with the photo may. They should have used the word trademark, in addition to copyright.
Production companies put up signs saying the same thing when they are shooting on a public street but too cheap to close it down. Saying that taking a photo violates their copy right....sosueme.

William Howell's picture

I did not know that part, yeah I agree with you.

So if a photographer with a production team is shooting on the street with signs posted, you would just walk on thru?

Stephen Flanscha's picture

There's a difference between respecting space and having legal rights to it.

The drone operator was flying legally, and so was the helicopter.

Ryan Davis's picture

If I fly a helicopter "legally" with the intent of knocking a roofer off a roof, and do so, and kill him, am I not guilty of a crime? Mens Rea is pretty obvious here.

Matthew Saville's picture

What part of "illegal filming" don't you understand?

Mr Hogwallop's picture

What was illegal? Was it against FAA regulations, maybe? Did it violate a TFR? Flying too low? Does "prior restraint" come into play IANAL so I don't know. Was the drone "trespassing"
But those are flying laws not "illegal filming"

Or was it against some corporation like the WSA rules?

First, there's no proof the drone operator was filming. Second, just because someone is illegally doing something it does not mean you can do whatever you want to stop them.

William Howell's picture

I don’t know how that defense would play out in civil court?

Both Parties i would say are in the wrong, Not sure about Hawaii drone laws but in the uk you have to be a certain distance from people and property not under your control. The helicopter pilot should know better than knowingly flying towards a drone. It would seem 2 wrongs don't make a right but a very wet drone.

Matthew Saville's picture

It has less to do with drone laws and more to do with filming copyright laws. Sure, the officials couldn't 100% prove that the drone was filming, but it's pretty obvious that there's only one reason for a drone to be there. In fact you have to "record" a feed in order to pilot the drone in the first place, unless you're doing it "blind" from a nearby hilltop. Which I doubt, since they'd have GTFO'd when they saw the helicopter coming.

TLDR, don't try to film an event that has very strict copyright laws in place, period.

You do not have to record the feed to see the FPV of the drone in flight... And what do you mean about "an event with very strict copyright laws in place"? Copyright law is copyright law, period. It is not that the promoter of the event can create their own laws regarding copyright of their event. They attempted to do so with their "no unauthorized drones" signage at the event, but they do not control the airspace, period. ONLY the FAA can issue TFRs for aircraft. Downing any aircraft because they are perceived to be breaking some organization's rules is still illegally downing an aircraft. And yes, by definition a drone is an aircraft.
I'll go ahead and state that the drone operator was in violation of the FAR's for not yielding right of way to the manned aircraft. The helicopter was in violation of VFR minimum altitudes. Both were in violation of likely several FARs.

Mr Hogwallop's picture

Companies like Disney, the NFL and NASCAR are very protective of their intellectual property. But they don't confiscate or damage the thousands of iphones and cameras that are used every day at their events.
But try to use a picture of Mickey or the Rams, or #43 without clearance and payment, there will be a nasty lawyer letter. Until an image is published, distributed, exhibited, etc. it's not violating a copyright law.
I believe the night time lighting performance at the Eiffel Tower is copyrighted, but I don't believe they ban photos of it until they are published.
The MLB claim, we all know is the protecting the recording made of the game not the game itself. And the trademarks of the league and the teams.

De[ends on the lawyers, but many companies like to wave the copyright flag to scare people.

Steve White's picture

Here's a clue for those who are clueless. Well, a few clues.

First, if you're browsing a site about photography you should have at least enough of a grasp of copyright law to know that it applies to images, recordings, and writing. You can't copyright a surfing event. Or a boxing match. Or other events that aren't performances of a copyrighted work (such as tonight's performance of Hamilton, for example). Copyright can protect any _recordings_ of the event, (regardless of who makes the recordings), but not the performance itself.

Second, if you don't want anyone else to film your event don't hold it in a public place where the public can see it. Regardless of any licensing deals the organizers have in place their private business dealings have no effect on those viewing an event that's held in a public place from a place that they have a free and legal right to be. The only thing that might have been a lawful prohibition against somebody filming the event would be a contract admitting spectators to a private viewing area, where the terms of admission could prohibit recording the event (again, tonight's performance of Hamilton in a private theater would be an example even if the play was in the public domain).

Copyright also doesn't necessarily apply to pictures of copyrighted (or trademarked) images or characters. Disney will definitely be on your case if you don't pay them for putting pictures of Mickey on cakes you're selling from your bakery. OTOH, it's completely legal, and not a copyright infringement, to take pictures at Disneyland and Disney World that feature Mickey or other Disney IP. That's true even if you publish it for commercial gain, as should be readily obviously to anyone who has ever seen an article about Disneyland or Disney World.

And Greg has it right about the issues of using the helicopter to knock down the drone. It's really not much different than using the helicopter to knock down another helicopter. Maybe there's a slim argument that the drone was posing a danger to people, but if that's the case knocking it down with a helicopter probably constitutes reckless endangerment.

That’s great! Drones are annoying.

greg tennyson's picture

Knocking drones out of the sky is the 2018 version of yelling at kids for playing in the street.

If that was my heli I'd fire my pilot and do everything I could to get his license revoked. What if the drone tried to "escape" the rotor blast and got sucked into the tail rotor with all those people underneath?

IDIOT.

Yeah... The drone could have escaped the rotor blast! smh

greg tennyson's picture

You're right. It's more likely to blow that drone onto someone below it.

Whatever the outcome, the pilot probably has better insurance than the idiot flying the drone so he's gonna get sued first when sh*t hits the fan.

Hey look I made a pun.

I once heard, 'The pun is the lowest form of humor' but that was by someone who can't make one. :-)

Matthew Saville's picture

Wanting to fly a drone anywhere, any time is the 2018 version of a cranky toddler who isn't having their way. Grow up.

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