On Monday afternoon, a drone enthusiast reportedly flew his or her flying toy into some power lines in West Hollywood and managed to cause a black-out for three hours for hundreds of people in Los Angeles.

The responsible party is still at large. Via the Los Angeles Times:

Witnesses reported seeing a drone buzz into the wires lining Larrabee Street and Sunset Boulevard about 1:15 p.m. and knock one to the ground…. [T]he search for the drone pilot continues. Investigators found bits of the drone on the ground along with one of its propellers.

Google Maps suggests this is quite a busy part of town, and a strange place to take a drone out for an afternoon flight, though our local LA correspondent Jorge Rivas tells us it's near the iconic, but now shut-down, Tower Records building.

Where the drone took out power lines


That one drone could take power out for 700 people will be yet another example pointed to by proponents of a drone registry. It would theoretically allow law enforcement to more easily find out who owned that drone (assuming the serial number was found among the wreckage).

Earlier this month, the Department of Transportation announced that it was going to make people with drones register with the government. Via the Aircraft Owners and Pilot Association:

The requirement to register all drones will allow the FAA and law enforcement to trace drones that violate laws or regulations back to their owner, and [DoT Secretary Anthony] Foxx noted that the inability to do so has been a significant obstacle to enforcement of current regulations and rules.


They plan to have the registration up and running by mid-December, just in time for Christmas. "The Consumer Electronics Association predicts that 700,000 drones will be sold this holiday season," reports the AP. Whether the person who buys the drone or the person who finds it under the tree and unwraps is responsible for registering is something the DoT hasn't announced yet.

The idea that drones need to be registered like guns was unsettling for some. "Would the government be able to use this registry to prohibit people from buying drones for some reason?," wrote Scott Shackford at Reason. "Will the feds seize unregistered drones, and would that even be legal?"


But with people flying drones into airplane paths, prisons, power lines and fires this year, creating some sense of drone pilot accountability seems like a necessity.