Software keeps drones grounded when President Trump is in Palm Beach County

Posted at 7:15 PM, Feb 22, 2017
and last updated 2017-02-22 19:15:56-05

Conditions on President’s Day would have been perfect for Chris Leyden, a boat captain, to shoot some footage of his boat coming in and out of the Jupiter Inlet. 


“It was a beautiful day. It was fantastic. Winds were calm and it was sunny,” Leyden said. “I set up but I wasn’t even able to take off.”


A message popped up on his screen, informing him he was in a temporary no-fly zone because President Trump was 15 miles away from Jupiter Inlet, at Mar-a-Lago.


“I didn’t know about the 30-mile radius,” Leyden said. “I was only informed about the 10-mile radius.”


Drones have software called geo-fencing which prohibits them from taking off when flight restrictions are in place. 


“Smart controllers or intelligent controllers are embedded on higher grade equipment so you won’t find geo-fencing on an $80 drone you find at the hobby store,” Shawn Holmgren with Palm Beach Drone said. 


Cheaper drones are not equipped with geo-fencing software but they’re also less of a possible threat. 


“They’re light weight they don’t have the lifting capability, they don’t have the distance, the range,” Holmgren said. “An $80 drone is only going to go 50 to 60 feet from the operator.”


But even if a cheaper drone gets too close to the President, the Secret Service has ways to keep those drones on the ground as well. 


“I know that they could, easily, deploy signal jamming devices,” Holmgren said. 


Although it would have been a picture perfect day to fly his drone, Leyden said he isn’t complaining. 


“I understand the rules and the reasons for them and I’m all about keeping the President safe,” Leyden said.