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Drones Fly Overhead At Coachella

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Look, in the sky! It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s a… drone?! Attendees to the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in Indio, California are used to a certain degree of surprise in the weekend of music, performances and art. But, this year was a little more special, with the addition of aerial drones to the filming of the shows. Although many people found the presence of the drones disturbing, learning that it was not the government’s doing calmed a lot of overextended nerves.

On April Fool’s Day, many publications like to release false stories so fake there is no chance they could be true. This year, LA Weekly took part. The alternative weekly newspaper published a story entailing a leak from renowned former National Security Administration contractor and Wikileaks contributor Edward Snowden. According to the newspaper, Snowden had released information about plans to use drones to check for illicit drug use at this year’s Coachella festival. The story was intended to be read as farcical on a holiday dedicated to pranks and jokes.

As it turned out, there was more truth than fiction to the idea. There were drones at Coachella, although they were not placed there by the federal government. Festival organizers, in an attempt to improve their YouTube live-stream coverage, arranged for some drone action from an aerial robotics firm. Drone Dudes, based in Los Angeles, provided the bots that would allow film capture of the performances from a variety of angles, including aerial.

Initially, many perceived the drones as just part of a larger security and surveillance package at this year’s festival. Coachella in 2014 featured special surveillance equipment hidden in participants’ wristbands, to add to the “Big Brother” quality of the whole affair. People were worried that they would be screened and imprisoned for bringing and consuming illegal drugs to Coachella. It seems that, after the apparent overdose death of Coachella attendee Kimchi Truong, drug use is entirely widespread at music festivals. However, Truong’s death, horrible as it is, is believed to be the first death attributed to the festival since 2008.

The idea of drones surveying the population of the United States strikes fear into the hearts of many. Although it may be a joke to some, many were relieved to learn that the drones at the 2014 Coachella festival were just helping to enhance the experience for non-attendees.

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