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[Letter from Massachusetts]

Killer Bunny in the Sky


On the afternoon of October 19, 2013, James Rodgers took a stroll through Myles Standish State Forest, a swampy area of protected land that lies about five miles south of Plymouth, Massachusetts. It was a perfect day for a little ground recon. When Rodgers stopped to look at the topo map on his iPhone, the screen showed the concentric whorls, geographic cowlicks, elevation, and sink of the surrounding forest of mixed oak, red pine, spruce: a good range for the quadcopter.

What he was looking for was flight suitability. Whereas fixed wings need room for takeoff, quadcopters require thin ground cover for ease of negotiation. The higher elevation of this little hill, which he had designated Bravo One, was good for both. You could see the full glory of the park, with meadows, little ponds, and a view just over the tips of the trees. Transmission towers gleamed in the distance. Bravo One had a few landing options, some decent camouflage for the operatives, and great ground-control opportunities for the drone pilot.

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’s most recent article for Harper’s Magazine, “Bartók’s Monster,” appeared in the October 2013 issue.

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