Bald eagle will hunt down drones during Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance

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Drone hunting eagle will watch over Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance
'The Colonel' is a bald eagle trained to hunt and bring down drones | Amelia Island Concours

Let’s face it, remote-control aerial drones might take great photos and videos, but at car shows and concours they are generally an obnoxious nuisance. Plus, they can endanger both expensive automobiles and human spectators because, and this has been known to happen, they sometimes crash.

The Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance in Florida, which apparently has had its fill of UFOs (uninvited flying objects), has called in a semi-retired “member” of the state’s Air National Guard for help. This addition to Amelia’s permanent staff is a highly regarded expert in airport-runway pest control and uniquely suited to the task of bringing down drones.

The new hire is Aerial Security Officer Col. Daniel Sexton Gurney Eagle, A.A.P. (Apex Aerial Predator), D.F.A. (Death From Above), who is an actual, living bald eagle trained in the pursuit of errant creatures and devices, and previously has proved highly capable and enthusiastic about performing such an assignment.

Drone hunting eagle will watch over Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance
The Amelia Island Concours would not be a good place to crash a drone | Bob Golfen

Col. Eagle, as the huge raptor is known, is employed by the Air National Guard at Jacksonville International Airport. During the 2018 concours, he also will maintain control above the Ritz-Carlton Amelia Island resort and adjacent golf course where the concours and associated events are held, and at nearby Fernandina Beach Airport.

Bill Warner, founder and chairman of the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance, said in a news release, “The Colonel, or ‘Sir’ as we call him here at Amelia Concours HQ, has assured us that there will be no drones operating above The Amelia, Cars and Coffee at the concours, the Porsche Driving Experience or any other activity during Amelia Concours Weekend. Period. No exceptions. No excuses.”

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The drone-catching eagle is not unique, with police and military agencies around the world utilizing the birds’ natural instinct to chase and nab the flying machines. Eagles in the wild also have been known to attack drones for whatever reason.

Warner noted that drone operators will have scant opportunity to reason with the Colonel as he swoops down on the buzzing offenders.

“With a resume and skills like Col. Eagle’s, one can do pretty much whatever one wants, wherever he wants, whenever he wants and however he wants,” Warner noted.

The Amelia Island Concours weekend is scheduled March 9-11, 2018, at The Golf Club of Amelia Island and the Ritz-Carlton, with about 250 special collector vehicles on display during the annual concours d’elegance March 11.

A new special feature will be looking up, watching for the eagle in action. Here’s hoping some wrong-headed drone operators make an appearance despite the warning.

For information about Amelia Island events, visit the concours website.

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Bob Golfen is a longtime automotive writer and editor, focusing on new vehicles, collector cars, car culture and the automotive lifestyle. He is the former automotive writer and editor for The Arizona Republic and SPEED.com, the website for the SPEED motorsports channel. He has written free-lance articles for a number of publications, including Autoweek, The New York Times and Barrett-Jackson auction catalogs. A collector car enthusiast with a wide range of knowledge about the old cars that we all love and desire, Bob enjoys tinkering with archaic machinery. His current obsession is a 1962 Porsche 356 Super coupe.

18 COMMENTS

    • What impact would high speed drone propellers have on the legs and feet of a large bird? Were you aware that purchased drones can be retrofitted with metal propellers? A simple roll of tossed toilet paper can bring down a drone.

      • It doesn’t take a metal prop. The plastic props on any electric RC model with brushless motors, whether fixed wing or multirotor, will cut a person to the bone. A bird’s hollow bones wouldn’t stand a chance. This is pure animal cruelty. And for what?

      • i don’t think they can train Eagles to throw toilet paper at the drones..come on? Sounds absolutely Awesome to me!
        Anyone know a good place to stay, for us non-millionaires ? Amelia Island Days Inn ?? No just joking.

  1. Had read of French Army personnel training eagles to bring down drones. What a great idea for a vintage car show / auction. This writer has no sympathy for drone owners who loose their buzzing air devices. Those owners are in the same category as the people who shine laser lights into the flight deck of landing aircraft. In either instance, should be considered a Federal offense, enforced by the FAA, and some mandatory prison time is well deserved.

    • How about you think before you speak? We already have overcrowded prisons and who has to pay for it? You and I the taxpayer, thats who. Lets save the prison cells for true criminals and let the drone owners who are a simple nuisance go free. I peraonally think people who make stupid comments on the internet should have mandatory prison sentences.

  2. Short of instituting flight restrictions, how do the organizers think they can do this, legally? The appropriate method for this is requesting a TFR (Temporary Flight Restriction) from the FAA, if the event believes they can justify it for a security concern.

    Even with a TFR in place, the organizer of the event has no jurisdiction over the airspace above the event, and no legal manner to "patrol" it. Should they choose to use a trained eagle, they may open themselves up to liability not only for damage to a drone and reparations to the drone owner, but also to liability should the bird attack a drone and it lose control and cause an incident.

    The act of hiring a trained bird to patrol airspace over which they have no jurisdiction is a monumentally short sighted idea and likely will have legal ramifications should there be a conflict with a drone.

    While the Ritz-Carlton, and any private property for that matter, can fully enforce a regulation that individuals cannot take off, land, or even possess a drone, that regulation cannot be extended to public lands short of a city or town ordinance existing that prohibits that.

    The proximity to FHB airport only requires hobbyist pilots notify the tower when flying in the area, and commercially license operators aren’t required to notify at all.

    At best, it’s a blowhard move and a huge waste of money. At worst, it’s a number of lawsuits. Good luck with this.

    • A great idea using a known predator to control the air space above the event to provide a nuisance free environment. I believe this is to protect the participants rights to privacy and avoid distractions during this event. Also control the video redistribution of the event.. Negnoirnegblanc.com

  3. Airspace is regulated by the FAA, not the landowner below the airspace.

    Taking out an aircraft (remotely piloted or not) is both a Federal crime and a civil crime. But who cares about the law or private property rights in today’s world?

  4. Challenge accepted. The national airspace is just that. If I operate my aircraft within the regulations set by the FAA and someone decides to violate 18 usc 32 by intentionally trying to damage or destroy that aircraft, then they will be seeing a lawsuit against them and whomever hired them. So think quite closely about what you seem to suggest.

  5. Seeing that the car shows venue is in class G (uncontrolled) airspace and the FAA is highly unlikely to issue a TFR , it would appear bill Wilson’s threats Completely Illegal and a violation of multiple FAA regulations.

    There is nothing the course deelegance can do to stop Drones from utilizing the airspace around fernadina beach.

  6. It’s good to know the geek/nerd/nyuk – nyuk – nyuk three stooges drone operators will be taken out by The Colonel. Damage to a vehicle from a falling/crashing drone? Yes. My 13 year old Grandson was filming around and above his Grandmothers classic 67 Mustang, and something happened to make it crash into Grandma’s car. Slight paint scuff on the front left fender where it came down…it took a little "finessing" to get the paint back to where there was no damage noticeable. Grandpa (me) has banned the drone when vehicles are in the driveway…but he can go out on the land and fly & film (excuse me…video) his little heart out.

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