This gift could cause serious harm

Drone owners must exercise great caution and follow the rules

No doubt some local residents will find remotely controlled miniature aircraft — drones, in popular parlance — under their Christmas trees next Monday. Recipients will tear open packages anticipating tons of fun.

Aircraft pilots have a different view. The proliferation of drones flown by irresponsible owners has created a new, potentially deadly, hazard for those who fly or ride in bigger craft.

National Transportation Safety Board officials have released a report on the first confirmed midair collision between a manned aircraft and a drone in this country. It occurred Sept. 21 over New York City, when a drone hit and damaged an Army helicopter. Those on the chopper were able to land it safely.

The drone’s operator was breaking virtually every rule in the book. He flew his craft about 2.5 miles away from where he was, despite a Federal Aviation Administration on flying drones out of sight of the operator, for one thing.

If you have a drone or get one this Christmas, enjoy it. But do so safely. Follow all the rules. Don’t be responsible for the first fatality involving a drone.

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