Col. Chuck Dorsey, the vice wing commander with New York’s Air National Guard 174th Fighter Wing, gave a fascinating presentation at yesterday’s Park Agency meeting in Ray Brook.
He unveiled a plan to begin flying MQ-9 Reaper drones over the Adirondack Park.
(Dorsey prefers the term “remote-piloted” to “unmanned,” given the fact that the planes will be crewed by trained aviators in Syracuse.)
One interesting bit is that the MQ-9s will be watching random Adirondackers, as a way for pilots and intelligence-gatherers to hone their skills.
“We pick the third house on the right past the blue silo and begin working there,” Col. Dorsey said, pointing out that the “targets” are always chosen randomly. (Targeting of specific civilians by these flights would be illegal.)
“One thing that’s particular difficult training and very useful training is to pick the next car that drives north across the Black River out of Castorland and track that vehicle as it makes turns and goes underneath trees and behind barns and things like that and see where that thing ends up.”
APA Commissioner Lani Ulrich asked whether people will know that they’re being watched by circling MQ-9s. “Are you far enough up that the third car is aware of being followed?”
Col. Dorsey said it’s unlikely that people will know that they’re being used as a practice bogey. All flights initially will be conducted above 18,000 feet. (The Air Guard hopes to eventually be allowed to fly low altitude practice runs down to around 5,000 feet.)
He also points out that similar training surveillance runs have been performed for years, using clumsier F-16 fighters. The MQ-9s are simply more efficient, able to stay aloft for up to 20 hours at a time.
So what do you think? A normal part of life given that we Adirondackers neighbor a large military base? A small contribution that we can make to help train pilots during a time of war?
Or does this raise concerns about privacy? Comments welcome.