A tragic fire ravaged Lærdalsøyri Saturday night, a village of some 1,200 inhabitants in Norway, halfway between Oslo and Bergen. 90 people were taken to hospital and many buildings were reported destroyed, including one or more of Lærdal’s unique protected wooden buildings from the 1700 and 1800s. The air force assisted the firefighters, deploying Bell 412 helicopters and flying in specially equipped firefighters on Sea King helicopters.
And this is where the story gets strange. The BBC reports that at one point, deployment of further helicopters was suspended until civilian drones, presumed to be operated by news media, had cleared the area.
Indeed, Norway’s TV 2 web site’s current top story offers viewers to “view the devastation from the air” but is careful to note that the video was recorded before a no-fly zone was declared.
I sometimes look out over a landscape or a major metropolis and ponder how long until the currently almost completely disused airspace will be buzzing with traffic. It is like a little bit of the future happened last night in a small town in central Norway. Suddenly, this bit of airspace became contested, with civilian use of camera drones in the spotlight.