Austin Haughwout has a thing for drones and, it seems, weapons.
So maybe it’s only natural that Haughwout, an 18-year-old from Connecticut, would combine his two interests to build a home-made drone mounted with a flamethrower and shoot things with it.
On Monday (7 December), Haughwout posted a video on his YouTube channel showing his invention as it shot flames at what the video title describes as a holiday turkey, which was mounted to a spit in a wooded area with a house nearby.
The quadrotor drone’s flamethrower appears to be a kit built with a propane torch, fuel pump and a car battery.
The drone video bears the logo of a company called HobbyKing that sells drone parts, radio controlled planes and other gear, and links to pages on the HobbyKing website showing the components used to build the drone (it’s not clear if HobbyKing is involved in sponsorship).
Haughwout explained in the video description that his creation also required a “significant number of 3D printed parts, wiring, soldering, and miscellaneous parts.”
Haughwout has tried this kind of stunt before, and he has a lengthy record of run-ins with law enforcement.
In July, Haughwout posted a video showing a flying drone firing a handgun in a wooded area, which drew the attention of international media and the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
Haughwout’s hijinks with drone, flamethrower and turkey likely won’t be investigated by local police, according to the Hartford Courant.
Connecticut doesn’t have any laws prohibiting what Haughwout was doing, and “laws have not caught up with technology,” one police detective said.
In May 2014, Haughwout got into a physical altercation with a woman who accused him of being a “pervert,” for flying a drone equipped with a camera nearby as she lounged on a beach – the woman was arrested for assault but Haughwout never faced any charges.
The emergence of recreational drones as a popular hobby in recent years has raised some difficult questions about how they should be regulated, and numerous incidents point to drones as a potential threat to privacy and physical safety.
On the other hand, drones are useful for rescue operations and going places humans can’t. They’re also handy for law enforcement and military applications, and companies like Amazon and Wal-Mart plan to use drones for deliveries and other commercial uses.
The FAA could soon issue rules requiring hobbyists to sign up for a drone registry.
Image of flamethrower drone via YouTube.