By Mark Heinz, Outdoors Reporter
A flying flamethrower might seem to be the perfect holiday gift for the Wyoming outdoor enthusiast who already has everything.
Sadly, it’s not that simple. Turns out the cyber-mechanical fire-breathing robots are intended for commercial use only. They’re expensive, and usually require a commercial drone pilot’s license to operate.
“You can’t just go to Best Buy or Walmart, get one of those drones there and mount this (flamethrower) system on them,” Quinn Whitehead, co-owner of Ohio-based Throwflame told Cowboy State Daily. “These are pretty sophisticated systems that require the lifting capacity of commercial-grade drones.”
Don’t Just Go Flaming Hog Wild
The company’s website lists a $1,499 price tag for its TF-19 WASP flamethrower drone attachment kit. And the ordering page for that device includes a disclaimer that buyers must agree to.
That includes the buyer taking “full responsibility” for obtaining any necessary licenses and waivers required to legally throw fireballs through the air in their jurisdiction.
The Federal Aviation Administration in Part 107 of its regulations requires a license for anybody piloting commercial drones.
“The FAA has laid some pretty decent roadwork” in regulating the emerging interface between drones and flamethrowers, Whitehead said, again emphasizing that the airborne models aren’t intended for mere fun.
Anybody who might be thinking of spending about $1,500 just to go flying, flaming hog wild to show off for their buddies – and maybe get back at the neighbors or in-laws — should probably think again.
Variety Of Applications
Allan Hovland of Sheridan recently told Cowboy State Daily that he’s wildly happy with the hand-held flamethrower he bought from Throwflame.
He said he uses it to clear snow from his driveway, kill weeds and sometimes to start campfires in an entertaining way. And at least in Wyoming, hand-held flamethrowers don’t require special licensing.
When it comes to aerial roasting, Whitehead said his company sells a fair number of the WASP drone attachment kits to commercial users, but he’s not sure if any have gone to Wyoming.
They have a variety of uses, he said. For instance, they can be flown in to obliterate wasp nests.
“I think in China they do quite a bit of that. A least that’s where some of that public footage of wasp nest burnings comes from,” Whitehead said.
And petroleum companies have used drone-mounted flamethrowers to burn away “off-gassing” fumes on offshore oil rigs, he said.
“It’s always surprising, the uses customers have for them,” he said. “It’s an effective way to burn things in situations where close proximity to the target could be dangerous.”