Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Turnout small, but concerns big over drone testing in Hernando

At a town hall meeting Thursday, Shirley Miketinac explains her reservations on drone testing in Hernando County to David Lemon, left, her husband, Pat, and Brian Moore.


At a town hall meeting Thursday, Shirley Miketinac explains her reservations on drone testing in Hernando County to David Lemon, left, her husband, Pat, and Brian Moore.

SPRING HILL — While turnout may have lagged at Brian Moore's public meeting Thursday to discuss drone testing in Hernando County, those who did participate expressed big fears about the potential project.

Chief among them was David Lemon, a pilot at Brooksville-Tampa Bay Regional Airport. Lemon voiced concerns about the testing when the Hernando County Aviation Authority agreed last week to move forward in the application process, seeking to make the airport a test site.

The Federal Aviation Administration is seeking six such sites across the country, and Hernando officials are working with a drone support company, TaSM LLC, to put the county on that list.

At Thursday's meeting at the West Hernando/S.T. Foggia Branch Library, Lemon, a former member of the Aviation Authority, expounded on his concerns over how drone testing might affect the local community of pilots. The test sites would be used to find out how unmanned drones would fit in with general aviation activities like those conducted at the airport south of Brooksville.

Lemon wondered what would happen if it's determined that drones do not mesh with general aviation activities.

"What happens is I run into a drone and I kill myself,'' he said.

Lemon said he was worried that the authority was trying to push through a project without the public having a full discussion about its merits and potential consequences.

Moore, of the NatureCoast Coalition for Peace and Justice, said he and his group have had concerns about the use of drones overseas for some time, but the deployment of drones domestically poses questions about invasion of privacy, safety of citizens and the potential for "a financial boondoggle with the airport and the county.''

Shirley Miketinac cited information from a recent National Geographic article, which noted that drones can have issues with the signal that guides them and that some have crashed.

"Things can fail,'' Miketinac said. "We can't control it. We would be the experimental laboratory to see how to control this.''

Lemon said he feels resentment because the County Commission tends to rubber-stamp whatever the Aviation Authority recommends. While he pays for airport operations through his hangar rental, "I don't get to vote, and it just irritates me," he said.

He also said that, if drone testing is needed, it should be done in restricted airspace where there is more control, such as along the east coast of Florida — home to the Kennedy Space Center.

Moore said he was concerned about what the drones could be used for domestically, and he pointed out that, as a regular protester of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, there was a time when sheriff's deputies would covertly observe his protests and take down license plate numbers to see who was participating.

"God knows what they're going to do with a drone,'' Moore said.

Miketinac said she plans to continue telling county commissioners of her concerns during Tuesday meetings, and she encouraged the other half-dozen people at the meeting to do the same. The group also decided to attend the April meeting of the Aviation Authority.

Moore plans another public meeting on drones from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. today at the Spring Hill Branch/Harold G. Zopp Memorial Library on Spring Hill Drive. An ad hoc group, including Miketinac and her husband, will sponsor an anti-drone demonstration at the old Hernando County Courthouse in Brooksville from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday.

Moore's group will be picketing after that, from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, at the Brooksville-Tampa Bay Regional Airport office, off Spring Hill Drive.

Barbara Behrendt can be reached at or (352) 848-1434.

Turnout small, but concerns big over drone testing in Hernando 03/21/13 [Last modified: Thursday, March 21, 2013 8:16pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. IT failure blamed for British Airways cancellations (w/video)


    LONDON — British Airways canceled all flights from London's Heathrow and Gatwick airports on Saturday as a global IT failure upended the travel plans of tens of thousands of people on a busy U.K. holiday weekend.

    Passengers wait at a British Airways check-in desk after the airport suffered an IT systems failure Saturday at London''s Gatwick Airport. [Associated Press]
  2. Florida softball returns to World Series; FSU baseball in ACC title game


    GAINESVILLE — Florida defeated Alabama 2-1 Saturday to win the deciding Game 3 of their softball Super Region, putting the Gators in the Women's College World Series for the eighth time in program history.

    ’NOLE POWER: FSU’s Dylan Busby, right, is congratulated by teammate Taylor Walls after Busby’s homer against Duke.
  3. Calvary Christian routs Pensacola Christian to win state baseball title


    FORT MYERS — Calvary Christian left no doubt as to which baseball team in Class 4A was the best in Florida this season. The Warriors defeated Pensacola Catholic 11-1 in six innings Saturday night at Hammond Stadium to claim the school's first state championship in any team sport. It also solidified a perfect 30-0 …

    Matheu Nelson of Calvary Christian celebrates scoring on a wild pitch during the first inning.
  4. Mayor: Men stabbed after anti-Muslin rant died as 'heroes' (w/video)


    PORTLAND, Ore. — Police said Saturday they'll examine what appears to be the extremist ideology of an Oregon man accused of fatally stabbing two men who tried to intervene when the suspect yelled racial slurs at two young women who appeared to be Muslim on a Portland light-rail train.

    A sign of thanks rests against a traffic light pole at a memorial outside the transit center on Saturday in Portland, Ore. [Associated Press]
  5. Numerous lapses add up to frustrating Rays loss to Twins

    The Heater

    MINNEAPOLIS — While the Rays made some good defensive plays, threw a couple of big pitches when they needed to and got a few, and just a few, key hits, there were some obvious things they did wrong that led to them losing Saturday's game to the Twins 5-3:

    Rays reliever Tommy Hunter says the Twins’ tiebreaking homer came on a pitch that was “close to where I wanted it.”