Surveillance  Drones

FL Watchblog: Drones deployed over RNC in downtown Tampa

August 24, 2012

TAMPA— It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s a…drone?

Convention-goers gearing up for the Republican National Convention next week should prepare themselves for some clandestine company, according to the Tampa Tribune, as it has been announced that drones will be dispatched to help safeguard the highly publicized event.

As known as Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, drones have been perfected in war zones from Afghanistan to Iraq and Libya, and have been seen regularly on the Mexican and Canadian borders.

The vehicles contain surveillance gear used to track suspected troublemakers who may be looking to wreak havoc at the Republican’s nominating convention for former Mass. Gov. Mitt Romney.

More from the Tampa Tribune‘s Howard Altman:

The vehicle, called an Aether Aero, is an eight-bladed vertical takeoff platform that will provide intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance to government agencies, according to Curt Winter, an engineer with United Drones.

The 41/2-foot-wide Aether Aero, which resembles a small helicopter, can fly up to 4,000 feet high and, with a specially built battery, can operate up to four hours at a time, Winter said. It is equipped with a 109x optical zoom camera, can lift up to 50 pounds and is so light it can be picked up with two fingers, according to Chris Knott, United Drones‘ director of corporate development.

Similar unmanned drones have been used by local law enforcement in places such as North Dakota, where six cows were reportedly stolen from a family farm and tracked down with the help of a Predator B drone.

According to both the Department of Homeland Security and FBI, there is a chance that “anarchist extremists” may be present at the Republican and Democratic conventions, the latter in Charlotte, and it has caused a significant police presence to build all along Tampa Bay—drones included.