The world-famous endurance swimmer, Lewis Pugh, found himself in deep waters this week, but not just due to his 315-mile swim challenge of the Hudson River. The real trouble bubbled up when his team's drone took to the skies in a restricted area.
Lewis Pugh, known for his daring swims across global water bodies, began his Hudson River journey on August 13, aiming to finish in New York City's Battery Park on September 13. However, just a day into this epic swim, a video shared on social media showcased drone footage from the High Peaks Wilderness.
This immediately raised eyebrows, as it's illegal to launch drones in the wilderness and primitive areas of the Adirondack Park.
A spokesperson for Pugh called it “an honest oversight,” assuring everyone that they're now in sync with wilderness rules following guidance from the state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC).
To add to the swim team's woes, a DEC spokesperson revealed that not only was no drone permit issued but that the team could face hefty fines, amounting to $1,000 for each day the drone was used.
This isn't the first time Pugh's name has made headlines. He's known for incredible feats, including being the first person to undertake a long-distance swim in every ocean in the world.
On top of that, he's swam the North Pole and beneath the Antarctic ice sheet! As a United Nations Patron of the Oceans, Pugh's Hudson swim is more than just a physical challenge. He aims to “highlight the critical importance of river health to the health of the world's oceans and the overall global environment,” as mentioned in his press release.
One cannot ignore the sheer physicality of his journey, where he intends to swim 10 miles daily. Pugh described the Hudson as “truly majestic.” In his words, “The Hudson… begins with a trickle in fairly rough terrain, so this swim will actually have to begin on foot to negotiate rocks and very dense vegetation.”
His endeavors are not just challenging but inspiring, as evidenced by features in publications like the New York Times.
However, with inspiration comes emulation, which concerns locals. Ben Brosseau of the Adirondack Mountain Club reportedly pointed out that while Pugh's efforts are commendable, they could inadvertently motivate others to use drones improperly in the High Peaks.
Brosseau, a drone expert himself, highlighted a potential flaw with the Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) “B4UFLY” App, which lacks information about New York‘s wilderness areas, potentially leading to such an oversight.
Regardless, the consensus seems clear. Before embarking on such endeavors, Pugh should have liaised with DEC to ensure smooth sailing, or, in his case, smooth swimming.
Photo courtesy of Lewis Pugh.
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