Fireworks, an accidental invention, have been around since 600-900 C.E.; when a Chinese alchemist unintentionally mixed saltpeter with sulfur and charcoal, creating gunpowder. Fireworks became a large part of Chinese culture, displayed during festivities and also to ward off evil spirits. Throughout history, fireworks have spread to many other cultures and are widely used today for celebrations such as Independence Day, New Years, sporting events, and much more. However, there is now a unique alternative to fireworks—drones!
A drone is an unmanned, lightweight aircraft with extensive maneuverability, which is controlled by a remote control system. As drone technology has advanced, the applications for drones have also grown. They are currently being used for military use, survey and mapping, agricultural applications, photography, and now entertainment. Although fireworks are well rooted into many societal events, drones have some advantages that might be worth considering for your town’s next celebration.
As we are currently experiencing this summer of 2018, wildfires are widespread across the globe. Detrimental fires have occurred throughout the western United States, most notably the Carr Fire in northern California, which has destroyed over 1,000 homes and has killed six people, including two firefighters. The most devastating fire this summer has been the Mati Fire near Athens, Greece, which took the lives of more than 80 people. States such as California, Colorado, and Arizona that have a high risk of wildfires, have turned to drones as an alternative for Independence Day celebrations. Travis Air Force Base in California opted for a drone show for their Fourth of July festivities, using the 500 Intel Shooting Star drones, the same crafts that performed at Disney World, the Lady Gaga Super Bowl Halftime Show, and the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympics.
The use of drones as an alternative to fireworks has some advantages. Most notably, the reduced risk of wildfires in dry arid climates. Furthermore, the reduced risk of injury to civilians. Although it is rare that injuries occur at public firework shows, it has happened in the past. The use of drones also removes the issue of smoke pollution that occurs after a fireworks display and can remain in the air for hours or days after a show. Firework smoke contains micro-metal particles that can be inhaled, and once settled back to the ground, the particulate can find its way into the ground water, lakes and streams. Finally, the use of drones does not produce a big BANG—which can disturb wildlife, such as deer, elk, and bear.
There are some minor disadvantages to drone airshows, such as weather sensitivity. The airshow at the Travis Air Force Base had to be delayed one day due to strong winds. Drones can fly in winds up to 18 mph; however, anything stronger than that will disrupt flight. Also, with a high number of drones, people say they hear a loud buzzing noise like a swarm of bees, so in order to mask the noise, most airshows will turn up the music.
Fireworks are dazzling, awe-inspiring, and rooted into many heritages, which can be tough to beat. However, it’s nice to have an environmentally safe alternative to fireworks to celebrate holidays, sporting events, or even enjoy at amusement parks. Drones can make it possible for societies in dry, arid climates to still partake in festivities without creating risk of wildfire and air pollutants.
One a smaller scale, what celebration items could you replace with an environmentally safe alternative?