The Navy’s investigation of drone flyovers at Bangor naval base adds another layer to a complex discussion on drones and security, safety and privacy.

Share story

The Navy is trying to figure out who has been flying a drone over its Bangor base in Kitsap County, which houses eight nuclear-armed submarines. The investigation resurfaces tensions over security, safety and privacy between government agencies and those at the controls.

In November, a drone hit Seattle’s giant downtown Ferris wheel and crashed onto a pier. Last June, a falling drone knocked a woman out at Seattle’s Pride Parade.

In May, a drone had to be removed from a power line over Lake Union at a cost of nearly $35,000 to Seattle City Light.

In 2014, a drone was flying near a woman’s high-rise apartment. She was topless, and understandably concerned the drone was peeping.

Most Read Stories

Unlimited Digital Access. $1 for 4 weeks.

Late last year, the Federal Aviation Administration created a registration system to identify drones over concerns about the devices flying near manned aircraft. The agency has been keeping a list of possible drone sightings by pilots, air traffic controllers and citizens.

From Nov. 13, 2014, to August 20, 2015, the latest period records are available, 30 drone sightings were reported to the FAA in Washington.

Most follow a similar script: A pilot sees a drone somewhere within a couple hundred feet from where he or she was flying and wanted the FAA to know about it.

But some catalog more concerning incidents: Drones entering restricted airspace, forcing pilots to maneuver away or seeming to follow our favorite football team.

Here are five interesting reports:

• Last January, a helicopter pilot reportedly saw a drone flying near the Seattle Seahawks send-off parade in SeaTac. The drone flew above the team’s buses and about 100-200 feet beneath the reporting pilot’s helicopter.

• In March, a drone flew within 50 feet of a news helicopter near Joint Base Lewis McChord in restricted airspace. The helicopter tracked it to a street address and notified law enforcement.

• On April 1, a pilot flying over Tacoma in a four-seat, single-engine Cessna took “evasive action” to avoid a midair collision with a drone at 1,200 feet. The black device, which was about 2 feet across, passed within 20 feet, the pilot reported.

• In June, a pilot flying a two-seat Cessna plan near Woodinville said the sun reflected off a drone within 500 feet of his plane and blinded him.

• In July, a four-seat Cessna took “evasive action” to miss something the pilot couldn’t see on radar. The pilot later determined it was a donut-shaped drone flying at about 2,700 feet.