There was a lot going on in Las Vegas this week, from a gambler making $6 million betting on the Eagles in the Super Bowl to casino mogul Steve Wynn being accused of sexual harassment. And worryingly, a video showing a Frontier jetliner barely avoiding a collision with a drone in the skies over Las Vegas was also released.
In an undated video you can see here, a drone treads water in the blue sky reportedly just 3.5 miles from McCarran Airport’s runways. Suddenly a Frontier Airlines passenger jet from the Airbus A320 family passes BELOW the drone. The drone appears to dive towards the jet to keep it in the frame before it flies off.
The video was reportedly originally posted to a Facebook group called “1% FPV” (first-person video) by a “James Jayo Older” with the caption: “Found the SD card, 1%ers only.” The fact that there is a group of drone operators who call themselves 1%ers (hint: does NOT mean the wealthiest 1%) may be as worrisome as the video itself.
The FAA has launched an investigation and also notified the FBI.
Perhaps in response to this pressure, a person calling himself “James Jayo Older,” who appears to be a Las Vegas high school student, posted a “public announcement’ on Facebook February 1. “The plane video. I’ve done some stupid s*** over the years of flying but I can assure everyone the video is NOT mine. I’ll stick to diving buildings and stuff. I’m taking the heat for it right now as a buddy uploaded it and I shared it to 1% FPV. Take it for what you want but the video is not mine. And I’m sorry for sharing it.-Jayo”
While the still unidentified drone operator may regard his flight and video as harmless, experts (and the FBI) would disagree. “This is clearly and explicitly an illegal and reckless flight by a drone,” noted Air Transport World. “The unmanned aircraft is above 400 ft., it is near an airport, and it is above another, manned aircraft—all gross violations of the rules that govern unmanned aviation.”
Drone hobbyist Richard Gilmore re-posted the video as a warning with the disclaimer “Not my video,” identifying the drone as an FPV quad racer. He demanded that Drone U Leadership and the entire drone community “fully CONDEMN this reckless and criminal act.”