Got a drone for Dad’s Day? There’s an angry buzz about where to fly them

While hobbyist drones grow in popularity, most parks won’t allow them, regulations are many and fliers can risk public censure. But there are a few public places to fly if you received one for a gift.

Like them or not, hobbyist-style drones have landed in our consciousness:

• “Drones for Dad,” trumpeted a headline in a pre-Father’s Day ad circular in The Seattle Times.

• “Why was a drone flying in my favorite wildlife park?” a Times reader in Kirkland griped in a recent Rant & Rave column.

• When another Times reader’s aerial photo of a lovely mountain scene was a top contender in a May photo contest, judges disqualified it after realizing it was taken from a drone in Olympic National Park — where use of drones is prohibited.

Boeing employee Dale Johnson takes a drone with him on business trips, and has created a small library of scenic places — all seen from the sky. (Dean Rutz / The Seattle Times)

So if every dad got a drone on Sunday, where can they legally fly them? That’s a bit of a quandary. A check with a few public agencies revealed that they are not allowed in:

Seattle city parks.

• Most Washington State Parks locations.

• Most King County parks.

And except in very limited circumstances all national parks bar drones, at least for the time being, under a 2014 ruling by then-National Park Service director Jonathan Jarvis. His edict cited “unacceptable impacts such as harming visitors, interfering with rescue operations, causing excessive noise, impacting [views] and disturbing wildlife.”

“If you’re miles from nowhere and all of a sudden there’s a drone it really takes away from your wilderness experience,” Olympic National Park spokeswoman Penny Wagner adds to that.

What about Juanita Bay Park, where Kirkland resident Kurt Stierle recently encountered a drone flying near park boardwalks that thread a lily pad-laced shore rich with wildlife?

“I’m kind of a…

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