Amazon drones are coming to town. Some locals want to shoot them.

Amazon says its delivery drones will bring the future to Lockeford, California, but not everyone in the rural ranch town is ready for takeoff.


By Caroline O'Donovan, The Washington Post

June 20, 2022


LOCKEFORD, Calif. — Six months ago, Amazon contacted local authorities in this rural town to let them know it planned to launch its long-awaited drone delivery service here.


But as of last week — when Amazon made the news public — many of the residents of unincorporated Lockeford, with its vineyards, fruit stands, and ranches, still didn’t know about the plan.


An 82-year-old woman who lives directly across the street from the still under construction drone facility with her dog, horse, two ponies, and small herd of goats said no one had mentioned Amazon’s plans to her. The same went for two brothers busy converting the neighboring winery they recently purchased into a marijuana farm.


A man at a local archery shop commented jokingly, “Target practice!” when he found out.


When Amazon announced last week that it would begin delivering packages via drones for the first time in the United States, the news took many residents of Lockeford by surprise. Amazon often embarks on its projects covertly, using code names and negotiating tax subsidies in secret, whether building data centers, corporate headquarters, or new fulfillment centers. But the big reveal sometimes comes as a shock to locals, triggering fights between the tech giant and the communities it aims to court...


... The team that chose Lockeford liked it because of its weather, rural topography, access to the highway and existing customer base, a former Amazon employee who spoke on the condition of anonymity out of concern for retaliation told The Washington Post. But the team also thought it was a good choice because there wouldn’t be too much red tape.


It “felt sort of cowboy and do what you will out there,” the person said.


The company said it started reaching out last week to locals within a four mile radius of the site to find out who is interested in trying the program...


... But not all residents are ready to lay out the welcome mat.


“They’re invading our privacy,” said Tim Blighton, a cement contractor who lives near Lockeford and who said he once threatened to shoot down a neighbor’s drone flying over his house...


... “I have a large amount of livestock and horses, and a drone would easily frighten the animals,” said Naydeene Koster...


... “Lockeford is an old school farm town made up of mainly old ranches,” she continued. “So the idea of this newer technology invading your privacy while potentially scaring your animals is quite scary to many out here” ...


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