Vaughan Gunson: Drone rage is a thing

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There I was, walking along one of Tai Tokerau's beautiful beaches. Just me and the seagulls, with hardly another soul to be seen. A small cluster of baches visible over the dunes to my left.

On my right, some gentle rolling waves and the great blue expanse of the Pacific Ocean.

And then a buzzing … what is that? A giant mosquito?

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I swivelled my head back and forth in agitation, before looking upwards to the source of the noise.

Maybe 40 metres up – it was hard to tell – was a spindly-armed drone hovering directly above me.

I recognised the sound now as distinctly metallic, like a high-pitched dentist's drill.

I stood there, doing my best pissed-off stance and scowl. After 10 seconds it zoomed off.

I've never before wished I had a shotgun but then and there, if one were in reach, I would have blasted that thing out of the sky.

As it was I had a quick look around for a suitable projectile I could hurl at it.

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One can understand how crimes of passion occur. The anger bubbles over and before you know it you've committed property damage.

I can see the headline: ''Man appears in court after destroying drone''. Not quite the noble protest cause I fancy appearing in court for, but worth it perhaps.

Drone rage is sure to become a thing. Luddites, like myself, unable to control themselves.

I try to be understanding about what different people get enjoyment from. I really do. But I'm afraid my tolerance, in this case, was broken down.

Standing under a buzzing drone on a beach, where we should be safe from such technological intrusions, I only wanted to yell ''Get a life!'' to whoever was holding the remote.

I'm almost motivated enough to make a submission to the Whangārei District Council requesting drones be banned from beaches.

To fly them over a reserve or park owned by the council requires you to fill out a form – to get approval. I don't know if the request is ever denied, or on what grounds.

But not so for beaches, you can just rock on up.

I've found out, though, you need consent to fly a drone above a person on the ground.

That's interesting. Perhaps we need a signal, then, easily understood by the drone operator looking at their camera screen.

A one-fingered salute or a Homer Simpson-like fist-shaking would mean consent withheld.

We could signal our consent with a friendly wave or perhaps a carefree pirouette.

But what if there are lots of people on a beach? Some are indifferent, others are raging drone-phobes. How is consent calculated in that situation?

Does the drone operator go up to everyone on the beach? Then steers the drone expertly around the dissenters?

Defining what constitutes ''above'' sounds contentious. Are we talking a tight one-metre radius of the subject or an expansive 50 metre no-fly zone?

Doesn't seem very workable really. Maybe just don't fly drones on beaches if anyone else is there. Sounds fair to me.

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