Fly me to the moon…

2 Feb

The State of Hawaii has champagne taste – on a beer budget.

This one is beyond understanding.

The state is installing extensive new security and surveillance measures at harbors and shorelines.
That’s okay.

That project has been underway in one form or another for several years.
Security at the state’s harbors is almost non-existent and this needs to be done.

If you knew how non-existent you’d shake your head in wonder and lie awake all night.

Here’s the kicker:
It wants to use unmanned aerial drones.

Why?
The security experts we talked to, including some with first-hand knowledge of the project, say it’s a waste of money.

About $1 million of the $1.46 million contract is Homeland Security grant money with the state kicking up the rest.

The unmanned aircraft are described in the paperwork as an “anti-terrorism tool”.

Yes, we got a lot of shoreline to watch and don’t do much of a job now.
A good security (meaning GOOD) security system with smart video does the job in many other major ports around our country.
Some a lot more important than here.

The unmanned planes cost $75,000 each, so they’re not very big.
We’re guessing, but maybe a wingspan of 6 feet or so.
The military uses them in Iraq and Afghanistan.

But still, they’re chugging around a very congested area above state harbors, next to two international airports, a general aviation airfield and Hickam Air Force Base.

While large planes fly specific routes in and out of this area, helicopters don’t.

Federal Aviation Administration approval is needed and that’s a gamble.
The FAA doesn’t like uncontrolled things flying in its area.

One thing the FAA would require is civilian-operated unmanned drones would have to be tracked by either a ground spotter vehicle or a manned chase plane.

So you got either another plane tagging along or a car with people in it, plus folks watching the cameras on the ground.
Pour me some more champagne please, I’m feeling rich.

Let’s get some perspective here:
There’s only two civilian agencies in the country that have received FAA certification for use of drones, which must be operated by licensed pilots from ground control stations.

One in Texas used to patrol remote sections of the Mexican border and one in Kansas for testing and training.

Who sold the state this bucket of worms?

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