FAA halts beer deliveries via drone to Minnesota ice fisherman
It's apparently a hazard faced by ice fisherman -- running out of beer while hunkered down on the ice. So it must have been a godsend when Minnesota's Lakemaid Brewery devised an ingenious solution -- using a six-rotor drone to deliver its six packs!
But, alas, this example of Yankee ingenuity was shot down by FAA in the latest case of big government making life miserable for businesses and ordinary Americans. What raised the FAA's ire? As aviation website AVweb explained: "FAA rules allow the recreational use of remote control aircraft by hobbyists below 400 feet but the beer runs are a commercial operation and therefore illegal." None of this made sense to beer-deprived ice fishermen and nor to Lakemaid Brewery owner Jack Supple, who told NPR: "We were a little surprised at the FAA interest in this since we thought we were operating under the 400-foot limit."
Videos of the seemingly routine deliveries are what caused FAA officials to go ballistic ahead of Super Bowl weekend. As AVweb explained:
The service was operational and gaining in popularity when local FAA inspectors got wind of it via the video. The system might actually have been a reasonable real-world test of drone delivery, given the remote and sparsely populated site and the relatively uniform height of the ice fishing shacks. To order a case of Lakemaid, customers copied the precise GPS coordinates of the spot they picked for the drone to land and phoned those into a store on shore. The store clerk programmed the latitude and longitude of the landing spot into the drone's onboard GPS and let the technology take over. Supple said the drone would have been busy on Super Bowl weekend. "The fishermen are going to sit there from Friday 5 p.m. all the way through Sunday," he said. "That's a long time to be out there on a frozen lake." Disappointed customers and supporters of the brewery launched a White House petition drive but after an initial flurry of online signatures the effort has stalled about 99,000 names short of the 100,000 minimum required for presidential review.
Minnesota, of course, is a solidly blue state, having elected Democratic presidents all the way back to 1972 -- the nation's longest such streak.
All of which raises a question: How many ice fishermen who are Democrats will now be voting Republican?