Drones are these flying things that do not need a pilot inside the aircraft to fly them. We heard them first as exterminating machines for dangerous or not so dangerous people, for example brides and children playing football, in faraway places like Afghanistan and closer ones like the Middle-East. It is supposed to eliminate risks for the ones that are using them and maximize hopelessness for those serving as target. Not a fair game one would say.
Drones in the retail
Here, in organized North-Western Europe and definitely in Holland, we treat these things as toys; literally. The sense of dread is pushed on to digital gaming and the 8 o’clock news; we live in the ultimate safe society and the word “drone” does not scare us. Unless it flies over our garden which might be a jobbie for our lawyer (or the local “klachtenbureau”). In the meantime, we can buy this top machine for the ridiculous price of 50 Euro at the same shop that sells shampoos and vitamins. And what do we do with them? We make films, sometimes breath-taking like this one of the Domtoren (the tower of the main church) in Utrecht.
Where to fly your drone
A drone in the service of art and culture. I want to see the day that this is explained, maybe in the frame of yet-another-art-biennale, to the people that got one of those in their garden. Within the “constant discussion” that is dominating contemporary art, this could be a subject to demonstrate the “tragic divide”. But, back to Holland, with much simpler thoughts, the question is where can you fly your drone without being fined. Rules have immediately followed the retail option of drones; and rightly so. Because the most common place to see them flying in our sky is as close as Scheveningen; the coast of The Hague. Our revolutionary act of tying a camera on a kite is overtaken by technology; the camera drone is making films of the beach, of the sea and maybe of your runaway dog on its way to Hook van Holland. However, you may not fly above the 300 meters, but if by any chance you lose eye contact of your drone, not to worry; it will find you when its battery is about to get empty. Amateurs and hobbyists are welcome to make such videos as long as they stay away from living areas. I don’t know if Madurodam is included.
The serious use of drones
In Holland the use of drones is also seriously researched. Just check this video made by students of the Delft University of Technology.
Drones in the service of our memories
The filming drones are already used at sport events like the Olympic Games; recently, in 2014, we saw them through the flying moments of skiers and snowboarders during the winter Olympics. In Holland, you can already hire a professional photographer to make such air shots of you wedding or your skating attempts, as up-to-date addition to the family album. However tempting for documenting our happy moments, it is not (yet) advisable to take your drone in your vacation luggage; regulations in other countries are also not clear if known at all. The United States are just about to issue relevant regulations. It is known though already that in Paris it is illegal to make films of monuments with the use of drones, so don’t try it; unless you want to write a piece about “one night in a Parisian jail”. It is in fact illegal to fly drones over Paris at risk of long jail sentences and huge monetary fines.
Drones over Paris?
Despite all restrictions, it seems that someone(s) did send their drones above Paris in the night of 23 to 24 February; after some arrests and confiscation of the objects, more such incidents were reported. The locations are suspicious for spying activities or for spreading fear that we cannot comprehend (remember?). The news item passed like a rocket through the social media and then kept quiet. The official media are keeping a reserved position, unable to decide whether this is a serious matter or an intriguing attempt of their colleagues to collect bizarre information.
In the meantime, in Holland we can still be playful and imaginative; enjoy our beautiful drone country!