back to article Murdoch accused of operating illegal US air force

Rupert Murdoch may soon have his front door kicked in by the US's Federal Aviation Administration, amid accusations that News Corporation has been operating an illegal air force. According to this report down at Forbes, the media magnate's fondleslab-friendly e-rag The Daily is flying a md4-1000 microdrone (pictured), which …


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  1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

    Hubertus Bigend is on the phone, wants his drone back.

    I want me one.

    Restriction of surveillance powers to the Mobsters in Government Buildings is oh so very predictable though. And they have legal immunity.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Sure, mate.... go here.

      For example, assuming you live in the UK

      Many many other places exist, I just chose that at random. It's not hard to source the parts off the web actually, and build your own. There's quite a few youtube videos on this.

      Bet you the heart beating inside that thing is a GAUI GU-344 or something like it.

      In all honesty, I'm not sure how they handle the wind. Fixed pitch rotor craft, in strong wind, tend to start acting like kites, at least the smaller ones do.

      However, I'm waiting for a super smart doodad that will do collective pitch on all rotors, that should ride the winds better and provide for more stunts, possibly.

      Now *THAT* will be full of so much win.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Google google....

        Now that I've said it, looks like they've done it

        WIN, only they should tune it for stunts and really show it off.

        When can I buy one?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Thumb Up

          Me want also

          The big question for me: can one of these accommodate a spraypaint can and the means to operate? You might have noticed but a certain UK political party sited virtually *all* of its large posters at unreachable spots (e.g. crane height) during May of last year...

          1. John Bailey

            I like your thinking..

            Should be possible. Quad copters are pretty stable, and can carry a surprising amount of payload. If they can carry a camcorder, why not a spray paint can?

            So all you really need is a holder, a servo to depress the button, and away you go.

  2. mafoo


    Surely they got a 3rd party contractor in to do it, and the management/editors will deny all knowledge of any wrong doing...

  3. Thomas 18
    Big Brother

    Nanystate or the old certificates racket

    How about we let anyone fly any drone and prosecute them when they crash it into something or start strapping weapons on.

    1. Danny 14
      Thumb Down

      Not really

      tbh it sounds like a good idea. I wouldnt like any old news jockey speeding to sites with these things. I cant imagine it is going to do your property/kids any good if it crashes into them.

      1. C-N
        Thumb Down

        the alternative

        You prefer the much larger manned helicopter for crashing into property/kids?

        At least someone is thinking of the children. I'd almost forgotten why we need all this regulation.

    2. sT0rNG b4R3 duRiD

      I am against flying cars...

      For this very reason...

      Can you imagine the carnage?

      I also think perhaps any sort of UAV above a certain size and performance envelope should be regulated.

      What this size should be I couldn't say, but it should not cause too much grief to hobbyists.

      Some reasonable compromise should be sought.

  4. Cameron Colley

    When's a UAV not a remote control aircraft?

    Do these rules apply to all the people building helicopters in their sheds also, or is there something fundamentally different about this? Is it much bigger?

    I seem to recall seeing "drones" for sale on many websites and even in gadget shops.

  5. David Evans
    Big Brother

    model aircraft

    Er, where does the definition of model aircraft end, and UAV begin? Would seem to me like an awful lot of people could be "breaking the law" if USGOV wants everyone with a remotely piloted vehicle to have a licence.

    1. ridley
      Big Brother

      Even after reading the Regs........

      Even after reading the Regs I have no idea to that one.

      Where does that leave the ArduPilot UAV brigade? (


    Big Brother

    1984... opening words...

    "In the far distance a helicopter skimmed down between the roofs, hovered for an instant like a bluebottle, and darted away again with a curving flight. It was the police patrol, snooping into people's windows. The patrols did not matter, however. Only the Thought Police mattered. "

    1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

      Not Strictly Accurate...

      And there I was thinking the opening paragraph of George Orwell's Ninteen Eighty-Four was:

      "It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen. Winston Smith, his chin nuzzled into his breast in an effort to escape the vile wind, slipped quickly through the glass doors of Victory Mansions, though not quickly enough to prevent a swirl of gritty dust from entering along with him. "

      Your Quote, I believe, comes from the middle of the fourth paragraph. Nice to see someone who (presumably) has actually read the book though, before likening things to it's themes or characters...

      1. Scott 53

        Not Strictly Accurate...

        That's "Nineteen" and "its themes or characters". if you're going to use the pedant icon, you need to read your post several times before clicking 'Submit'.

        1. Anonymous Coward

          Not Strictly Accurate...

          "if you're going to use the . . ." -- You failed to capitalise the letter 'I'.

          However, stylistically, you should have rewritten the setntence to eliminate the superfluous comma: "You need to read your post several times before clicking 'Submit' if you're going to use the pedant icon."

          Descending into pedantry recursion in 3 . . 2 . . 1.

          1. John Bailey

            Not Strictly Accurate...



            Just can't get the pedants these days..

          2. David 30

            Not strictly accurate

            I presume 'setntence' was deliberate?

          3. Anonymous Coward

            Not Strictly Accurate...

            "[...] setntence [...]"


  7. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    A Myth Pimped by the Guilty to Try and Save their Worthless Skins and Dodgy Fortunes

    "Restriction of surveillance powers to the Mobsters in Government Buildings is oh so very predictable though. And they have legal immunity." .... Destroy All Monsters Posted Friday 5th August 2011 10:56 GMT

    Nobody has legal immunity for despicable sovereign type actions based on false evidence and contrived protocols, Destroy All Monsters. Just ask Saddam and Mubarak and Blair.

    And Wee Willie Hague and Dave Cameron, his sponsor and mentor, are skating on very thin ice with regard to their virtual takeover attempt of Libya ..... which has been an unmitigated disaster which idiots wouldn't even be spinning as a winning game play. Is someone spiking the tea and biscuits for the Cabinet with some psychotropic substances which has them in denial of leadership failure?

    1. brym


      i can actually understand one of your posts and completely agree with it. way to opine!

  8. Craig 28

    Much as I hate to support Murdoch PLC

    but I think it's fair enough morally to use a UAV to get footage of a disaster area, the literal kind not the metaphorical kind that Newscorp is so good at lately. Anything that saves them buggering about with expensive, noisy, fuel guzzling helicopters.

    Personally I think the law should allow this so long as the drones are only used for situations where a helicopter would otherwise be used. Not sure how to deal with issues where the less obvious nature of a drone allows them to spy on people though, maybe insist they run with lights on at all times and be painted flourescent yellow/orange while having their position monitored by local authorities at all times?

    Require pilot certification and require the company to hold an operating license for them by all means but blanket banning them seems silly.

    1. Rob Dobs

      Type of License

      Read the article, I just skimmed it but it appears that Murdoch and crew have not bothered to apply for the proper commercial license for these devices, before releasing them on the public.

      These commercial licenses are presumably where the authorities would check and ensure that they are indeed safe.

      There also appears to be a research style license, that I would guess is MUCH easier to get, but only allows to to test and demonstrate (not fly into public areas, let alone disaster zones).

      This has much less to do with whether or not one actually can fly these things (they can with the proper paperwork filled out) and more to do with Murdoch (FOX) and crew routinely and flagrantly violating laws for their own gain, which they seem to do in spades.

      Throw the book at them and lock that despicable geezer up if you can. We need some relief from Murdick and his Teabaggers right about now.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Paris Hilton

        That's right.

        You have *so* much to gain from an arbitrary denial of any news organization to obtain actual news. Question for you, Chester:

        If this was CNN and the disaster was Katrina, how many months would you be howling about oppressive government trying to hide something, and how there is no existing regulation on the books covering this?

        Seems to me, your outrage is triggered more by Fox/Murdoch thinking of and using the technology before anyone else, and your answer is to hand the state more censorship capabilities rather than see that happen. Whatever happened to "if it isn't denied, it is allowed."?

        Tell CNN, et al to get their own damned drones if you're so concerned. Just one more sign that the rest of the lamestream media is not interested in reporting news anymore. PH for the sole object of interest in most news organizations (other than El Reg, of course...)

  9. Steve K
    Black Helicopters

    What about the DraganFly X-series?

    What about the DraganFly X-series ( then?

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    Tomorrow Never Dies

    Has anyone yet checked whether Murdoch also owns a stealth ship complete with armed crew and drilling gear?

    1. Dan 10

      Or a load of zombies...

      a la The Jennifer Morgue

      (one for Charles Stross fans)

  11. Julz


    What about LOHAN?

  12. oddie


    Does this mean that PARIS will never soar free through US airspace? or is it excempt? :(

  13. Field Marshal Von Krakenfart


    I thought the dirty digger sacked all the microdrones when he shut the screws of the world.

    Icon: photo of cleb taken by microdrone

  14. mac42

    Hobby or Business, what's the difference?

    The FAA Regs that are linked have an interesting restriction. It states that current FAA policy (A policy is not a law) is that, among other things, model aircraft must be flown below 400 ft and no more than a mile distance under line of sight control. It also states that a model aircraft can only be used for hobby or sport, but not for any business uses. Oh really. It's okay for a 10-year old kid to send up a remote controlled model airplane but a company employee is somehow riskier.

    1. Trevor 7

      Business usage

      A business user is more likely to be spending a lot more time in the air than a hobbyist and likely in places where air space is more crowded i.e. emergencies, disasters.

    2. Richard 12 Silver badge

      For fun or profit is a significant difference

      Doing stuff for fun is and should be much less regulated than doing stuff 'for hire or reward'.

      Just like I can drive a mate to a party if I like, but I can't ask him to pay me to do it unless I get a taxi licence.

      - In the case of model aircraft, there's an argument along the lines of "If the weather is a bit dodgy and you're doing it for fun, you'll probably wait for a nicer day. If you're being paid to do it, you're more likely to go ahead anyway."

  15. Tom 15


    Wouldn't the FAA still have to exist to kick in Murdoch's door?

    Or as Fox News summed it up when I was recently in America: "The people who stop your airplanes from crashing aren't doing their job because Obama can't compromise!"

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Down


      The workers furloughed were construction workers. Stop believing what you see on Fox.

      Much as I dislike Murdoch & Co. I would have preferred it if the FAA bureaucrats had been sent home. They screw up everything they touch.

      1. Captain DaFt

        I agree, the FAA is a bureaucratic mess

        Or haven't you seen this making the rounds lately?

        Youtube of this being read to congress:

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    at least

    they didn't buzz Obama's birthday party. Imagine the yelling had they found a 76 year old woman at the sticks of this toy whirlybird!

    Only the "preferred" news outlets are authorized to fly into the zone. Everyone else, including civilians, need to be patient until the "correct" Media tells them what they "need to know".

    Fox News is guilty of being late to the party and kissing the wrong @rses.

    helicopter icon needs more rotors

  17. Lance 3

    R/C aircraft

    I guess any R/C aircraft are drones then?

  18. Jacqui
    Big Brother

    vehicle following drones

    IIRC when the first self stabilised small planes came out someone wired one up with video and

    had it track his car from a few 100 feet up. He then went on a (short) drive down the M1 and some back roads. The clever bit was that in those days before affordable GPS and sat-navs' he had a real time view of the road ahead (including traffic) from the plane that was tagging him.

    I think a passenger was piloting but these days a drone could be self piloted.

    Also remember that in these days of leccy planes, we stillhave small IC engines (including diesel) that can be used in aircraft that need the flight duration. A tiny RC engine mounted on a glider can stay in the air for hours.

  19. Craig 28

    Re:Type of license

    You failed to read the article yourself my friend. It clearly specifies that licenses are only available for research and development, and additionally require the UAV to be kept well away from a populated area. Thus using a UAV for any civilian purpose other than developing a UAV would seem to be outside the scope of the available licenses and ultimately illegal.

    This is what I was complaining about. Nail murdoch et al for breaking the law by all means, after all it is their responsibility to make sure they're complying with the law in these cases. On the other hand that doesn't make the law right. Just because a law is stupid however doesn't mean we have the right to ignore it.

  20. Antti Roppola
    Black Helicopters

    Sensational leap much?

    "The WASP's compact computer may of particular interest to News Corporation since it is capable of sniffing Wi-Fi networks and intercepting mobile phone calls. "

    Well, yes. You could probably also attach cream pies, weapons of mass destruction and an electric shaver to it if you really wanted to. So what?

  21. Andrew...


    Those wanting spray paint, need to factor in the downdraft before aiming. Long extendable tongs might also be required in order to place can near object.

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