Looking Up In Oysterville

Jan 27, 2015 | 0 comments

Looking Up in Oysterville

Looking Up in Oysterville

It’s not every day in January (or in any other month) that it’s sunshine and shirtsleeve weather in Oysterville, but it was last Sunday. And it’s not any day of the year (or at least it never has been before) that a group of friends has gathered in our yard to have a drone demonstration. In fact, I’m pretty sure it was a first.

I had asked my friend Kathleen Sayce if she knew of anyone on the Peninsula who had a drone and she “thought maybe” Bob Duke (a fellow Community Historian) had one. I had (actually, still have) a vague idea that I want to write a little bit about drones in my next column for the Observer but my knowledge about them was (and is) pretty sketchy. So I contacted Bob and was pleased beyond all measure when he offered to come over and “do a demo. And, invite some of our friends,” he said.

And so it was that a group of us gathered in front of the house Sunday afternoon and learned more about drones than any of us (or probably all us together) had known before. I think the thing that surprised me the most was its size and weight. It wasn’t much bigger in circumference than an extra large pizza and even though Bob said. in answer to our questions, that it weighed “ounces,” all of us registered surprise when he passed it around for us to hold. Ounces it was!

Greater Downtown Oysterville

Greater Downtown Oysterville

Bob was a storehouse of information – current FAA rules, the protocols of recreational drone use, the gray areas in ethics and the law, and so forth. His interest stems from a lifetime of experience with radio controlled model planes, plus more than a passing interest in photography and (of all things) his passion for canoeing.

“More than once,” he said, “I’ve started off in my canoe from Bay Center and run aground because I was uncertain of where the channels were. Now, it’s possible to send the drone up at low tide and take a look ahead of time.”

His smart phone fit neatly onto the handheld control console and through some communication miracle that I don’t understand. Bob was able to see what the drone saw and take photos of rooftops and of us gawkers looking skyward and even of the curious eagle in a Monterey cypress tree. (Bob kept the drone a respectful distance from the latter, however, fearing that the little device might look too much like prey and would be defenseless against the large raptor’s powerful talons.)

Our House

Our House

Although it’s only a matter of days that he’s had the drone, Bob has already purchased an upgrade for the “low res” camera he was using Sunday.  Along with a few of the photos he took Sunday (plus a wonderful draft of “A Drone Primer” he is developing!), Bob plans to return to Oysterville with his new camera in place and on a less sunny (and less contrasty photo-wise) day.  “Any time,” said I!

The most surprising thing of all, to me, was my own reaction to Bob’s drone. I think I was prepared to feel a bit of negativity or at least a healthy skepticism regarding the place of drones in our world – or more specifically, in my world. And, although I still feel that way intellectually, I was utterly amazed to find that I felt proud and protective of the little drone, much as you might feel about a friend’s dog who was demonstrating a new series of tricks.

I wish I had asked Bob if he had a name for it. Somehow, just referring to it as a “drone” seems too impersonal. Yikes! Did I just say that??

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