Today I was disturbed by reading the story of an awful fatality of an RC hobbyist in Brooklyn and I was reminded how a day of fun can end abruptly with a tragic accident. No one wants that to happen.

Remote-Controlled Model Helicopter Fatally Strikes Its Operator

A 19-year-old man was killed when a model helicopter that he was piloting in Calvert Vaux Park struck him in the head, the authorities said.

RC flight gives some of the pleasures of flying without the accompanying dangers, I had supposed. Yet there are real dangers, as there are doing most things. Promotions selling drones or quadcopters often promise that anyone can fly. Not everyone takes safety as seriously as we should. This story is a reminder of the possible danger to ourselves, to others and to property from operating unsafely or unexpectedly losing control. Be careful, makers.

Today, I also came across this 1917 poster on a wall in our office and I made the connection.


Carl Malamud of, who shares the Make office in Sebastopol, had found this WWI-era poster archived at the Smithsonian.

Dale Dougherty

Dale Dougherty

I’m founder of MAKE magazine and creator of Maker Faire, which are produced by Maker Media, where I’m Executive Chairman. I am also Chairman of the Maker Education Initiative (

  • Rahere

    In a way, it’s the fruit of the triumph of optimism over experience. If there’s one thing Makers know, it’s Murphy Rules, if anything can go wrong it will. So when we add in that what goes up must come down, the recent set of videos of quadcopters suddenly failing begins to suggest this could be as dangerous as cycling – and it’s generally considered wise to wear a helmet for that!

  • Kirt Thomas

    FEAR UNCERTAINTY DEATH!!! This is happened twice now in the last 40 years so Make should definitely do an article on the dangers of RC helicopters. Get your clicks. Feed unsubscribed.

    • Trav

      Yeah, well it only happened once to this guy.

      It was just a friendly reminder to be careful not a “DO not try this at home” warning. It was worth my click.

  • ka1axy

    The event was a reminder that Mother Nature (and her friend, Captain Physics) deal in an uncaring and harsh way with those who violate their rules.

    However, I’d rather live in a world where we can take these chances and those who are educated and respectful of the risks can enjoy the experience. Nobody wants a bubble wrap world.

    Be careful, understand what you’re doing, and expect the unexpected, because it will happen faster than you can deal with it. If it does, and you are lucky enough to survive, help others to understand how fast bad things can happen, and that the only defense is “Proper Prior Planning”.