Drone video captures monk sunbathing atop wind turbine


    Portsmouth Abbey Benedictine Monk Brother Joseph Byron

    The drone video of a Portsmouth Abbey Monk sunbathing atop the school's wind turbine is turning heads around the world.{}

    The attention the spectacular but intrusive video is getting is bringing up issues of privacy and safety.

    During this summer's heat wave on August 16, Brother Joseph Byron, who's not afraid of heights, got an unexpected surprise: a camera, mounted on a drone, looking back at him while he was sunbathing.{}

    "It's beautiful up there - absolutely gorgeous," said Byron, the defacto keeper of the Portsmouth Abbey School's 10-year-running wind turbine.{}"You never know what's out there hovering around."

    The blades on the turbine, which supplies the entire school complex nestled on the edge of Narragansett Bay with power, only turn when the wind speed reaches 12 miles per hour or greater.{}There wasn't even a gust of wind that morning when the drone showed up.{} So, Byron figured he'd climb up to the top for some peace and quiet.{}

    "The next thing I heard was the buzzing. And at first I was kind of, I had never seen one before so, (saying to myself) that's kind of cool."

    The drone, remotely operated by a visiting tourist from California according to the Daily Mail, hovered for a couple minutes, went away, only to come back a second time.

    "At that point I was like, 'come on, really?!'" laughed the suntanned Monk.{} "The longer it went I thought 'you know, how about a little peace up here, you know?'"

    Federal regulations are expected by the end of the year, after complaints from pilots over safety, and the public at large over privacy. The Feds deal with air space.{} That leaves the states to regulate the behavior of the operator.{} Rhode Island State Rep. Steven Ucci, from District 42, had just attended a meeting with local, state, and federal agencies, as well as members representing the burgeoning drone industry, when he spoke with NBC 10 News about the need for enforceable legislation.

    "As fun as they are, they can do a lot of damage," said Ucci. "They're not a toy, and at the end of the day, if you're making people uneasy with what you're doing, you have to use your head."

    State laws are being crafted now, expected to be on the books 2016.

    Byron would like to see rules put in place.{}

    "Yeah, I think so.{} Particularly people with yards and houses and being out in their backyards, you'd expect to have privacy."{}

    On the other hand, thinking of the drone operator, he said, "If I put myself in his shoes, I'd think it'd be kind of surprising and kind of neat that there's somebody sitting up there on the top of this thing."

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