During the Schenectady County SummerNight street festival Friday night, at least one person spotted a genuine unidentified flying object overhead.
Well, it was a flying object, and unidentified — until now.
“There was a bright and rising full moon background, magnificent fireworks and a mysterious drone helicopter with blinking red and green lights that was fluttering like a butterfly above the colorful pyrotechnics that were bursting in air,” Union College professor and eyewitness Frank Wicks wrote Saturday to The Daily Gazette.
“Curious minds might want to know whether it was an extraterrestrial Unidentified Flying Object, some earthling hobbyist adding entertainment to the venue … or a branch of our government collecting more data to add to the existing information overload. … ”
Schenectady County said it wasn’t them.
Albany International Airport had no reports.
The CIA didn’t mention it on its new Twitter account.
Wow, maybe this was a real UF … oh, never mind.
Open Stage Media, which operates Schenectady’s public access, education and government TV station, said the object is no mystery: It belongs to them.
“We had a quad copter. We were getting some shots of the crowd for Schenectady promos,” station manager Zeb Schmidt said. “What we have is a mini-helicopter with a camera attached to it.
“Most people say ‘drone,’ but it’s not really a drone.”
The plastic, 2-foot-by-2-foot device with a video camera attached was operated from the roof of Proctors overlooking the festivities.
Think more of a model plane or helicopter than an alien aircraft or guided missile of destruction.
“I’ve seen a couple of them just going around,” Schmidt said. “It’s just like another tool.”
A similar flying mounted camera was seen at the Firecracker 4 road race in Saratoga Springs this Fourth of July.
The Federal Aviation Administration is paying closer attention to what it calls unmanned aircraft systems.
According the FAA, the agency has authorized limited use of unmanned aircraft systems for “important missions in the public interest, such as firefighting, disaster relief, search and rescue, law enforcement, border patrol, military training and testing and evaluation.”
“Unmanned aircraft are flying now in the national airspace system under very controlled conditions,” according to the agency. There are certain airspace restrictions involved.
Doug Myers, a spokesman for Albany International Airport, said there have been no reports of issues there involving unmanned craft.
Schmidt said for smaller aircraft such as what the station uses, most regulations don’t apply.
“Ours is considered a toy,” Schmidt said, adding they still have to keep it a certain distance away from airports and aircraft.
He added the flying apparatus cost somewhere under $1,000.
“There’s not much to it,” Schmidt said. “Basically plastic and a propeller.”
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