While international laws regulate the use of incendiary devices by the military, there are no laws that prohibit a civilian from strapping a gas canister to a drone and flying it in open space to perfect one’s culinary skills. In fact privately owning a flamethrower is not even forbidden under US federal law.
Using the opportunity, Austin Haughwout, a 19-year-old mechanical engineering student from Clinton, Connecticut, shot a four-minute video of his weaponized drone launching jets of flame onto a dead and spitted turkey.
The new video, posted on Haughwout’s YouTube page has the description: “This is how to roast your holiday turkey.” It has so far gathered 50,000 views. For those interested in making their own drone rotisserie chef, the 19-year-old included all the components of the self-assembled unit, which included eight propellers, motors and a pump.
“There was also a significant number of 3D printed parts, wiring, soldering, and miscellaneous parts included,” the teenager said.
The video has sparked a controversy, prompting the local Channel 8 news to report it to the police department. The police said that they had no comment at the time.
Drone advocates meanwhile said Haughwout’s actions were dangerous and irresponsible.
“Anyone who does anything of this nature or a similar nature is operating unsafely and irresponsibly, and I certainly would not condone it and I would certainly chastise it as would any responsible operator,” drone advocate Peter Sachs, told Channel 8.
The advocate claims that using an airborne flame-thrower on a turkey could violate FAA regulations that forbid carelessly and recklessly using the drones in a way that could endanger life or property.
“It could very well have created a much larger fire that might very well have endangered the life or property of another,” said Sachs.
Haughwout’s father defended his son’s conduct, claiming that the incineration was executed safely, with buckets of water, fire extinguishers, and hoses all on standby at the shooting site.
This is not the first time that a video produced by Haughwout has caught news headlines. This summer, the 19-year-old posted a video of a handgun strapped to a drone, firing from it. It has been watched around 3.4 million times.
The federal government has been working on a strategy for drones since Congress passed the 2012 FAA Modernization and Reform Act that included a special rule for model aircraft. The agency as a result has come up with some basic rules which include a ban on flying within five miles of an airport, a ban on flying a drone over 400 feet and a ban on flying around stadiums. The rules are still being developed.