That drone that hit a British Airways plane might have been a plastic bag

Not quite a drone.
Not quite a drone.
Image: Flickr/Regan Walsh/CC BY-SA 2.0
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On Sunday, April 17, it was reported that a British Airways flight arriving from Geneva collided with a small consumer drone at London’s Heathrow Airport. The plane suffered no damage, according to the BBC—and that may well have been the case because the so-called drone was possibly, in fact, a plastic bag.

A new report from The Telegraph today (April 21) suggests that the item the plane collided with could have been a shopping bag, according to the UK transport minister Robert Goodwill. (Sometimes there’s so much beauty in the world.)

Some drone pilots are undeniably acting irresponsibly when it comes to piloting personal drones, flying far above any country’s height restrictions, or through exceedingly crowded and restricted airspace, like the center of London. But while the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) documents and releases every supposed “close call” with consumer drones—which could potentially have the same dangerous effects on a plane as birds can—there is some skepticism as to the veracity of these sightings.

Motherboard’s Jason Koebler dove into the data the FAA released last August, and found that, among other things, “a ’large vulture,’ a ‘fast moving gray object,’ a ‘mini blimp,’ a ‘red UAS or balloon,’ and ‘a UFO’ were all classified as drones in the FAA’s report.” This led him to decide that, when it comes to verifiable sightings—even from trained pilots—”drones are the new UFOs.”

Image by Regan Walsh on Flickr, licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.