Saturday, 17 January 2009

The Model Terrorist.

The new terrorist arsenal - almost six inches in length!

Trainspotters are terrorists, photographers are terrorists, and now modelmakers are terrorists.

The Landed Underclass has already covered the story of the sneaky criminals who allegedly tried to smuggle contraband into a prison using a toy helicopter. No contraband was found, no CCTV images of this mysterious UFO have been made available, despite the use of infrared cameras and despite the fact that those who are into that sort of thing could identify the make and model of the toy at once, and probably list the shops that sell it.

I once worked with a guy who was into these flying models, and went along a couple of times to see his machinery fly. He, and others, produced some impressive model aircraft, I have to say, but despite his encouragement I stayed on the sidelines watching.

The first reason was cost. The second was danger. I didn't realise these guys had to buy insurance. Not for the model, nobody will insure that, but for the damage it might do. One of these, flown into you, could easily kill you. They are deadly pieces of kit. So these guys were insured for up to a million pounds' worth of damage.

I'm not talking about the tiny little helicopters you see in Tesco for about thirty quid. These things were huge, metal, and powered by some kind of oil (castor oil, I think). They were heavy and they were expensive. A beginner's kit to make one yourself cost about £600. Every time it crashed (and as I was gleefully assured, beginners crash a lot) the repair bill was £100 minimum. That's if it could be repaired.

As for carrying stuff, well I did ask about that. Watching them fly around was all very well, but could they do anything useful? Transport something? A video camera perhaps for aerial views?

Some of the big ones could carry small items, but the problem was balance. If the model was off balance it was impossible to fly. You could fit a payload but it would have to be central, or balanced by another weight somewhere else. Then when the payload was removed, the balance weight would have to go too at exactly the same time. There's also the problem of range and of line of sight - if you can't see it (if it goes behind a prison wall for example) then you can't control it.

So, the story Landed Underclass found has a couple of problems. First, the story claims toy helicopters can be had for £20. In the supermarket sales, yes. They are made of polystyrene, have very limited range and control, and would have serious trouble carrying a pin. To do something like the story claims, you'd be looking at spending £1000 plus. And you'd need an expert to fly it at night. And it would have to have lights so your 'pilot' can see where it is and which way it's facing. And he'd have to be on a ladder so he could see over the wall to land it. Even with all that, you'd be shipping a few ounces of stuff, no more, and anyone who approached the model with its blades turning would lose fingers (if the engine stops, you need a special device to start it again, one that's not generally available in prison). The noise these things make is tremendous. They are not the device of choice for surreptitious delivery of anything.

So, in short, it's a load of bollocks. Someone might have flown a toy helicopter over the prison but they weren't delivering anything. More likely they went off course and had no intention of flying that way. More likely still, it never happened at all.

On the other hand, one of these helicopters could easily carry a modern mini-video camera with SD card storage. I have a couple of those. They weigh next to nothing and they'll run for four hours on two AA batteries.

So, are these models about to be controlled, or perhaps banned, to stop super-skilled model-makers delivering a gram of heroin to a prison?

Or are they about to be controlled, or perhaps banned, because we can use them to film from the air?

Remember, the authorities are already scared of street photographers and trainspotters. Is it such a stretch to imagine they are also scared of aerial photography?

Watch out for those radio controlled cars and trucks. They can carry much bigger cameras.

You know, I might call in to that model shop on Monday. Just to browse...


Oldrightie said...

The polls are getting sensible again so I've changed my handle!

Old Holborn said...

I know why they want them banned

K. MacEgan. said...

K.M (sobbing) Yes,yes I sniffed Krafft Ebing and shouted "Allah el akbar. Kill plod.Oh wait I do that anyway..."

GrumpyOldTwat said...

Excellent video clip OH.

I hear Lord Mandy Meddlesome already has a couple of these on order and the courier has specific instructions to deliver them to his back door.

Ampers said...

I have just read the most frightening speech in my life, given by a Dutch MP (Freedom Party) to the Americans.

It really is the most terrifying speech ever.


Dick the Prick said...

Ampers - may be me but my comp didn't like the link.

Dick the Prick said...

Ampers - found it, demographics, dumbo. Hmm...voice like his should be heard if only to be criticized.

OwlHoot said...

Ampers, as Dick the Prick said, the link failed. Is this a transcript of the speech?

Talking about remote controlled helicopters and the like, I won't be surprised if the larger ones are banned at some point.

Look at it this way - A piece of semtex the size of a sugar lump can blow a horse in half...

The same goes even for remote controlled road vehicles. Before long, if not already, it will be quite feasible to drive a car or truck right across London by remote control.

So imagine the potential for would-be bombers who are a bit more skeptical than your average
thick gullible pig-ignorant jihadist about the 72 virgins and young boys awaiting them in the afterlife.

If I were running MI5, I'd be urgently looking at setting up a group to monitor anomalous radio signals of the kind capable of controlling vehicles, if there isn't one already.

Same goes for mobile phones - GCHQ should somehow be diligently identifying, and maybe blocking, calls which don't appear to involve speech or standard sound profiles ...

Leg-iron said...


...on the other hand, we aren't dealing with the IRA, who might have made use of remote control.

This is a whole new mindset, in which a terrorist is quite happy to drive a truck to its destination and then press the button marked 'boom' and go up with it. We're up against people who don't care about their own lives. They don't need remote control.

Besides, it's easy to scramble a remote controlled model/vehicle. A blanket signal would do, in the range these models use. They really aren't much use to anyone who wants to be a threat to national security.

They're only a 'threat' to a paranoid administration, which unfortunately is what we have.

The Penguin said...

The story is horse-shit made up by journos to save them doing any real work, or fed them by prison guards trying to deflect attention from how drugs and phones do get into the prisons.

What are the Righteous going to do about Google Earth and Google Street?

Google Earth is already so good it even shows my Transit Van parked outside my house!

The Penguin

Ampers said...

Not sure if you have the same speech.

I put the link in full below, watch for line wrap if any.

Gareth said...

Leg-Iron said: "Then when the payload was removed, the balance weight would have to go too at exactly the same time."

Drop two bombs at the same time...

Was The Dead Pool a warning or an instruction manual?

Anonymous said...

Having seem a demonstration last year of a R/C model helicopter with a gyro stabilised camera I think it more likely that the Righteous would consider them for "intelligence gathering" of their own. This thing had an auotopilot which could maintain a hover or fly a predetermined course, and the camera could also be remotely controlled and beams back its images live to the operator. It was capable of the sort of work normally done by full size helicopters and crew, but for a tiny fraction of the cost...

Anonymous said...

Ampers, what's terrifying about one person's view of islam? Ask any Irishman what is more important their religion or their country and you will find religion is generally the answer. Wasn't so long ago that christianity was up to the same thing and look at what's happened.

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