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Look up! Drones now hovering over America

February 8th, 2013
01:42 PM ET

By Lucky Gold & Samuel Burke, CNN

Remotely piloted airplanes, or drones, are increasingly responsible for projecting America’s military might around the world.

Missile strikes from the drones are causing increasing ire from Pakistan to Yemen to Somalia. But imagine drones coming home to roost, in the skies above America.

It's already happening, albeit without the missiles.

Some adventurous amateur spirits who call themselves “Team Black Sheep” are making amazing videos with ingenious miniature drones (watch the video above).

They're also making a statement, showing security lapses in America's airspace. From the majesty of New York’s Statue of Liberty and San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge, to the gaudy spectacle of the Las Vegas Strip, the drones fly around some of the U.S.’s most-famous landmarks – sometimes buzzing by just a couple feet away.

A federal law that flew under the radar last March allows surveillance drones to monitor U.S. borders.

Cash-strapped police departments have started exchanging expensive helicopters for inexpensive drones.

In two short years, commercial drones will be allowed to take flight, putting even more eyes in the sky.

Fasten your seat belts, America.

READ MORE: Grandfather grieves teenage grandson killed by U.S. drone

Filed under:  Drone • Imagine a World • Latest Episode
soundoff (35 Responses)
  1. Juan

    Well, we want lower taxes, man power is much more expensive in salary, benefits, insurance and equipment. Drones as well as public space video monitoring seems the perfect solution. Limits must be set on what information can be used and when, but this country needs to start seeking truth rather than trying to create reasons to hide behind their actions.

    February 8, 2013 at 1:50 pm | Reply
    • Jim

      Juan, what the hell are you talking about? Are you even a citizen?

      February 8, 2013 at 2:20 pm | Reply
    • KPrston

      Thanks for the observation especially when the Cops use them to spy into your back yard, stop you for speeding and a host of other intrusions.

      February 8, 2013 at 7:20 pm | Reply
      • Caihlyn

        Cops are SUPPOSE to stop you from speeding...

        February 8, 2013 at 7:24 pm |
  2. R. Anderson

    I am all for drones but why the hell weren't they equipped with self-destruct capability or remote or satellite destruct capability in case they are captured. Now the Iranians stole the technology. The drone could have doubled as a weapon that way also... C'mon military!!!!!!!!!!

    February 8, 2013 at 4:17 pm | Reply
    • Johan S

      Hyundai can buy itself a Mercedes from a dealer. Having done that, can they build something similar?

      February 8, 2013 at 5:38 pm | Reply
      • The Swede

        When they do it lasts longer.

        February 8, 2013 at 7:15 pm |
      • jason

        yaeh the better copy a German production since the US made is of no quality.

        February 9, 2013 at 4:02 am |
    • Ricardo D Martinez

      The warlords deliver anything, they had the technology as soon as the world knew their existence, they are just reported lost to the congress, as well as 80,000 helicopters during vietnam.

      February 8, 2013 at 5:57 pm | Reply
    • Tadpole

      The only problem with this article and the video is that it wasn't taken from a drone, but by a radio controlled aircraft that has a camera on it. People have been fyling RC aircraft in the US without incident for decades, and it has been at least ten years that people have been putting cameras on the airplanes to capture video as well. I find it uniquely poor reporting to claim that an RC aircraft (being piloted by someone on the ground) is a drone.

      February 8, 2013 at 7:23 pm | Reply
      • toy

        YOU are an IDIOT Tadpole!

        February 9, 2013 at 1:45 pm |
    • jason

      do you really think they didn't have anything similar already? Chinese have been buying Skandinavian made hi-tech war technologies for years. And by the way, the technique in northern Europe (Finland, Sweden) beats the American made by all means in quality. Take Finland for example, biggest military manufacturing in the world per capita. Also with only 5 million citizens they put together 1 million soiliders, all equipped with latest technology. Common in Skandinavian countries

      February 9, 2013 at 4:10 am | Reply
  3. BlueRay

    It's already happening, albeit without the missiles. –> Yet. First we have to become desensitized to their presence in the skies...

    February 8, 2013 at 4:44 pm | Reply
  4. Richard

    People should shoot them down.

    February 8, 2013 at 6:20 pm | Reply
    • bill

      Now perhaps you know why they want the guns first, specifically high powered rifles. The morons saying you don't "need" an AK or AR for hunting never considered the target being a machine like ROBOCOP. Primary directive? Why do you think the committee is debating the targeting of US ctizens...right here at home. 1984 is more than just Van Halen my friend. Oh, to answer your question, we will.

      February 8, 2013 at 11:24 pm | Reply
      • toy

        You've seen too many movies. You are an IDIOT! you must be a Republican.

        February 9, 2013 at 1:47 pm |
  5. Tadpole

    Interesting, TeamBlackSheep doesn't really do drones, but rather First Person Video (FPV). A drone is an aircraft capable of sustaining itself in flight autonomously by calculating its position in 3D airspace, and making corrections based on changes in that position. The video above is taken from a model aircraft that is being actively piloted by someone on the ground (think Radio Controlled airplane) and is sending back video in near-real time. Big difference between the technoliges involved in these two very distinct areas, and it is kind of sad that CNN can't tell the difference.

    February 8, 2013 at 7:18 pm | Reply
    • toy


      February 9, 2013 at 1:48 pm | Reply
      • willknutsen

        Try adding some information, rather than just vomiting out childish and ineffective insults. We are trying to learn and share on these sites. Calling someone an idiot explains nothing about why you think someone is an idiot. The post you rant about is simply saying the video used came from radio.controlled planes, not real drones. Perhaps CNN has no footage from drones, but they should have explained that. Now, that drones are being used in the USA has not been contested by any of the posts I have read, so what is your point?

        February 16, 2013 at 4:10 am |
  6. jason

    imagine the everyday fear in countries where US drones fly supplied with missiles killing civilians. What would YOU do if other countries start behaving the same way as our government, bombing innocent people on US soil? As Christianity teaches, treat your fellow man the same way you'd like to be treated. This is actually taught in Hinduism and Islam as well. US citizens should be more open minded and understand that we're not hated worldwide for our religion but for the actions our government takes, the greed and lust for power.

    February 9, 2013 at 3:57 am | Reply
    • toy

      How are you enjoying your FREEDOM?you think you are safe?why do you think that is?

      February 9, 2013 at 1:51 pm | Reply
    • willknutsen

      We are not, as you put it, hated world-wide. Some do hate the US, but many others do not. Such sweeping and unprovable statements detract from anything useful you might have had to say on domestic drones. As I see it, military drones are the modern 007, licenced to kill. Okay, its a weird old world we live in, but I am pretty sure that the (expensive!) drones will stop when religious extremist who say publicly they will kill all (including others of their faith) who do not practice their faith as they do, stop killing in the name of some god. I am not, however, saying the West is without fault in the socio-political arena of the world. Now, about this CNN piece on drones in USA, personally, I doubt drones in US will be carrying weapons. But police surveillance helicopters do, and have done for decades, but no one seems upset about that. If you want a real-life experience with air surveillance, drive along some highways in the West that have on the tarmac, pictures of airplanes that warn speeders that "the eye in the sky" might spot and ticket them. Speeders, by the way, are more dangerous than armed helicopters, or any future use of drones. Americans shouldn't live in paranoid fear of the government, police, or fellow citizens. Let's have some faith in our system! Of course we all know there is corruption and plenty of cases of injustice in the system, but for the most part we have been doing alright for a long time.

      February 16, 2013 at 4:37 am | Reply
  7. T1000

    Judgement day is comming...

    February 9, 2013 at 8:36 am | Reply
  8. hs

    Orlando PD has drones. They have yet to give a full explanation for intended uses. Just something along the lines of 'you shouldn't worry if you aren't doing anything wrong.' You don't need to be a card-carrying aclu member to be scared for your rights.

    February 10, 2013 at 12:34 am | Reply
  9. raj

    drones the latest in the spy tech world make them fly and download the info after all the goverment just need to know whats happening within the country and behind the enemy lines and if can be done without sacrifising and risking the pilot life what better bet it can be its a new era where you are constantly been watched but even then we see so many crimes and brutalities hope all these new funda and tech if not nullify at least reduce the same...

    February 11, 2013 at 3:57 am | Reply
  10. Lau Hieng-Hiong

    The advent of remotely piloted airplanes again witnesses the unrivaled advancement of American science and technology. They have become widely known to the world after occasional reports that some fierce political controversies have arisen over the deployments of drones by the US military in Pakistan and some Middle Eastern countries. Like many other newly evolved technological merchandises or gadgets, civilian drones, commercially or for entertainment, will expectedly roost beyond the US, gradually becoming parts of life in many other developed or developing countries. There are, without doubt, positive aspects of such a development. Civilian drones can potentially bring enormous conveniences as well as efficiencies, in areas like law enforcement, forest fire fighting, emergency rescuing, endangered species protection, among other things. As commonly experienced, commercial employments of novel inventions often come with some nasty consequences. One paramount concern is civilian security as well as personal privacy, among many aspects in daily life. Imagine that if lethal drones fall into possession of certain organized groups of violent criminals, the society will become a horrifying nightmare scenario for the public to inhabit. The use of drones for law enforcement undoubtedly outperforms surveillance cameras, prevalently used in almost every corner of a modestly-developed community. If such devices are utilized over human rights abuses, bitter disputes between human rights groups and the government ensue. At the international level, strategic deployments of military drones, like those reportedly occurring in Pakistani borders by the US military, can incite huge demonstrations, complete severance of diplomatic relations or even military conflicts. Will we be then living in a world happier and safer than we are now?

    February 15, 2013 at 11:00 pm | Reply
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