My dad got a drone for Christmas.
My dad lost a drone on Christmas.
— @miss_jordon, on Twitter
If this Christmas was the season of the drone, it was also a time of crashes, losses and tweeted laments. Social media is rich with commentary about fathers (major targets) crashing drones, girlfriends with tiny blades enmeshed in their hair (mothers removed them) and crying children whose favorite present went poof in the sky.
"How would you like it if your laptop flew away?" Shelley Holloway's husband asked her after he lost his holiday drone. Ms. Holloway, of Clawson, Mich., had posted a note on Nextdoor, the community-based social network, saying that "his Christmas has been ruined ever since." (Apparently he didn't like the ribbing.)
More from The New York Times:
Most drones are harmless toys — albeit ones that seem to have a shorter shelf life than a Christmas tree. But drones, particularly bigger ones, can cause major damage and injury, especially in the hands of neophytes. Like birds, drones can be sucked into engines, creating a risk of planes being brought down. There is also a risk of drones themselves falling on people or their property. The Federal Aviation Administration requires that every hobby drone owner register with the agency, and insurance companies are girding for a wave of drone-related accident claims.
"We're adamant," said Scott McLean, a spokesman for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. "If a drone is seen in the vicinity of a wildland fire, we will remove our aircraft, which unfortunately can cause the fire to grow exponentially."
The agency, known as Cal Fire, has adopted the warning "If you fly, we can't!" It has a fleet of 50 aircraft and 31 million acres to cover. After a drone flew into what was called the Trailhead Fire in Auburn, Calif., last summer, Cal Fire grounded its aircraft for two hours.
About 2.8 million drones were sold in the United States last year, about 1.2 million of them over the holidays, according to the Consumer Technology Association, a lobbying group. As of Dec. 13, just over 500,000 people had registered with the F.A.A. Surely the rest of the owners will be stepping forward soon — if they haven't already crashed their drones.
"My daughter got a drone from Santa, and its first launch took off and never returned," Jim Stephens of Orinda, Calif., notified his neighbors on Nextdoor. "If you find a white and orange drone in your backyard or trees, please let me know."
In an interview, Mr. Stephens said controlling the drone had been harder than he expected. "I should have let her drive it — maybe we'd still have it," he said. His daughter, Iris, is 6.