DENVER — He normally works around 6,400 feet above sea level. And his office has a pretty good view, too. That would be SkyFOX helicopter pilot Nate Roberts.
In addition to seeing the beautiful blue Colorado sky, white clouds and lots of birds, he see’s other aircraft as well.
“EMS helicopters, a lot of jets flying into DIA, a lot of commercial and private aircraft,” he said.
As of lately, add unmanned aerial vehicles to that list, also known as the drone.
“If they follow the rules, I’m OK with it. But rules are always broken and that’s what I’m afraid of,” Roberts said.
According to a recent Federal Aviation Administration report, two drones were sighted at DIA, one on Aug. Agust 12, two miles south of a runway, and the other on Aug. 14, flying at 3,000 feet and reported by air traffic control.
Pilots have reported a surge in close calls with drones, with nearly 700 this year.
Roberts was flying SkyFOX over the scheduled implosion of the CU Health Science Building on Saturday and was alerted that drones were taping the scene.
“That was a good thing because they warned me,” he said.
Whether drones fly for work or fun, they still can be lethal to manned aircraft.
“Could be a bad day for you. You could end up fatal, not controlling the helicopter, you could end up crashing and end up killing everybody on board,” Roberts said.
Roberts said the jury is still out on drones for him. He’s undecided. In the meantime, he will keep both eyes out for them while he’s in the air.