Competitors and spectators at the annual Golden Fleece event, held in Wanaka during the region’s A&P show last weekend, have said “get stuffed” to drone enthusiasts.
It has come to this author’s attention that on the second day of the much-loved annual exhibition – which sees wool growers from around the country show off the finest coats their sheep have to offer – the event was rudely interrupted by an unruly mob of an entirely different kind.
It has been reported that the first sign of trouble was a loud buzzing noise.
“We thought it was a bee swarm at first,” explains my informant, who has asked not to be named for fear of reprisal.
“A swarm at this time of year didn’t make any sense, though as it turned out there really one… just not of the kind we expected.”
Attendees at the event soon identified the source of the noise in the form of a cluster of drones, flying toward them at high speed.
According to my source, there were “at least a dozen” and as they drew closer it was observed that most of the devices appeared to be fitted with cameras.
Attendees began attempting to wave the drones away as they got closer, hoping that the operators using cameras might be using live feeds and so be able to see they were disrupting the exhibition, but to no avail.
In fact, as my source explains, the drones began heading for the sheep pens.
This, understandably, distressed the animals immensely and the competitors immediately became concerned for their animals’ welfare.
Several people climbed into the pens and attempted to jump up and catch the devices as they hovered over the sheep, but these efforts were thwarted as the drones would glide quickly up out of reach.
“Someone in the crowd shouted that anyone who had a gun on them should try and shoot them down, but of course we couldn’t take that risk with all the people and animals about” says my source.
“Then someone else in the crowd threw a gumboot at one of the drones. I didn’t see who it was but it was a brilliant shot! It hit the rotors and the thing fell straight into one of the pens and got trampled by all the sheep trying to seek refuge from the stupid things.
Next thing I knew, more boots were flying from all directions like a hailstorm and hit almost all of the drones before they could fly out of range.”
Everyone present then began to celebrate, thinking the disturbance was over and that they could continue the event without further incident.
This elation was short-lived, however, as soon shouting could be heard in the distance.
Through a grove of trees bordering the showgrounds came a group of people, shouting angrily.
“We’ll sue you! You destroyed our property!” one person in the approaching crowd shouted.
“They were really pissed off” recalls my source, “but that’s nothing compared to how pissed off we were.
The little buggers obviously could see some of the camera footage, given they reacted so quickly once we took down those nuisance things, but they had the cheek to have a go at us for doing what had to be done when they targeted those sheep.”
A standoff between the two groups quickly escalated when one of the drone operators threw his controller at the president of the Wanaka Farmers’ Association.
“That was the final straw – a good old fashioned brawl broke out. We weren’t going to stand for that rubbish from those idiot townies.”
Gore based sheep enthusiast Murray Champion was attending the event with his prize ewe Jezebel when tragedy struck. Choking back tears, the normally stoic Southlander struggled to describe the full horror of the scene.
“One of those bloody flying townie robots swooped my Jez and the vet says she’s got the PTSD now whatever that is. Her wool is falling out and the light has gone from her beautiful eyes. It’s a bloody disgrace.”
Local police quickly arrived and did their best to break up the fracas, but it took some time to restore order and seperate the clashing groups.
When I contacted the local station for comment, the senior commander declined to comment further, saying only that all involved had been warned and no charges had been laid.
When asked what he personally thought of drone operators who acted in the manner exhibited last weekend, he would only say that he would like operators to exercise common sense and courtesy to others, and that flying their devices in areas where there were large crowds or where animals were kept was not advisable.
I was not able to locate any of the drone operators for comment, and so asked my source what had become of them.
“They left eventually” he said, “making a lot of noise about lawyers and civil cases brought against us. But they don’t really have a case, I reckon.
If they hadn’t interrupted the exhibition and started hassling the sheep, they’d still have their toys, wouldn’t they? The lot of them can just get stuffed.”
So there you have it – another battle in the war between drone enthusiasts and those who find them to be a pain in the ass.
Who do you think should get stuffed?
Drone enthusiasts, or the people who object to them? Tell us in the comments below or on our facebook page!