A Stones Throw 6-9-16


I have a couple of thoughts today that at first seem to be not connected – but, they could be.

Living in Switzerland County has always provided us with tranquility with a view. I still remember the first time I witnessed a barge loaded with coal slowly making its way down the Ohio River. Shortly thereafter, I remember wondering why so many coal filled barges headed down river while almost as many headed up river.

I remember sitting on the deck watching a sunrise or standing out front watching the sun go down. I remember always having a companion by my side. Sometimes it was Jade, but always it was Bodo, Shadow, or one of our other dogs.

And, I remember the first time I saw an Eagle near Patriot. I have always loved Eagles and Hawks. Unfortunately, a couple of years passed after I saw my first Eagle without my seeing another. Friends would talk about seeing five or six. They would talk about seeing nests with young Eaglets.

I couldn’t find them.

Then, one day Jade was turning into the driveway when an Eagle flew by with a large fish in its talons. She stopped her car, but apparently startled the Eagle to the point it dropped the fish. She hurried to the house to get her camera in hopes the Eagle would return to the fish.

The Eagle did not return.

Just knowing an Eagle was fishing the Ohio River close to our home was great news. We now look forward to our next exciting sighting.

Perhaps not as exciting, but just as interesting, is the presence of personal drones in and around Patriot. In last week’s ‘Patriot News,’ Kay Cook wrote about a personal drone that she sees flying around Patriot.

I haven’t seen the drone Kay wrote about, but I know that when one of my neighbors put their house up for sale the realtor used a drone to take pictures of the house, its setting, and its view.

Recently, a 60 Minutes report discussed Amazon’s plan for same day delivery of packages by using personal drones. This idea brought mixed emotions from the public. Many thought this was a good idea. Many others thought it could lead to dangerous situations and a possible infringement on privacy.

This intrigued me.

I started looking into personal drones. I found I can buy a simple “starter” drone for about $100. From there, like any other product, the choices got more and more sophisticated and, of course, more expensive. For $3,000 I could get a drone that had a precision camera, GPS capabilities, and could see and avoid objects.

And, that is just the start.

If you go to ‘YouTube’, you can find instructions on how to set up a drone so that it can pull the trigger on a gun at your command. This is supposed to help hunters – no other purpose.

Yuh – Right.

This got me thinking. I remember the time a drone was flown close to the White House.

What if that drone had been set up to fire a gun that was attached to it? What if the drone had been fitted with explosives and had been used as a form of kamikaze?

It doesn’t take much imagination to see how a drone can be everything from a toy – an asset to business – or a terrorist’s dream.

I was talking about the whole drone spectrum with a friend who knows how much I like Eagles and Hawks.

Last week he brought me an article that had been reprinted from the New York Times. The headline read “Dutch firm trains Eagles to take down drones.”

The article, written by Stephen Castle, was date marked Katwijk, Netherlands. In it he states:

“Its wings beating against a gathering breeze, the eagle moves gracefully through a cloudy sky, then swoops, talons outstretched, on its prey below.

“The target, however, is not another bird, but a small drone, and when the eagle connects there is a metallic clunk. With the device in its grasp, the bird of prey returns to the ground.”

Castle goes on to explain that a retired military airfield in the Netherlands is being used to train eagles and other birds of prey to seek out and capture small drones. He states that the growing concern that simple drones could be used as destructive devices has generated a series of drone killing ideas.

So far, of all the ideas, the use of birds of prey seems most promising. Several countries including the Netherlands and the UK plan to introduce “drone killing” birds in the near future.

Birds of prey have long been trained to keep gulls and other birds away from airport landing strips. With the addition of “drone killing” Eagles patrolling the skies around our government buildings, our airports, and our public events – even our politicians – it would become the symbol of America protecting America.

America protected the Eagle when it became endangered – Perhaps the Eagle will soon be able to return the favor.

– Mike Cooney