Ahead of the Boston Marathon on Monday, city officials were adamant: no drones along the route. Such a ban isn’t unprecedented, but the plan for keeping drones out of marathoners’ faces highlights the difficulty of spotting the damn things, much less taking them out. Naturally, the plan flirted with net guns.

“The entire route of the Boston Marathon will be a ‘No Drone Zone,’” declared the caps lock-happy spectator guidelines issued a week before the race. “The public is being advised NOT to operate any type of drone (unmanned aerial vehicle), including remotely controlled model aircraft, over or near the course, or anywhere within sight of runners or spectators.”

It was less obvious how such an order could be enforced. Thousands of people flood into Boston and the surrounding suburbs on race day, many of them photographers eager to get shots of the runners and spectators. Initially, there were few details as to what steps police planned to take if they spotted a quadcopter or other drone hovering over the massive crowds.

So when Brian Hearing learned about the drone ban, he called Boston police brass and offered his services.

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