Monthly Archives: June 2014

UAV047 FAA! We’re Going to Need a Stiff Drink!

Drone Prize 2014

FAA defines Model Aircraft, UAV’s banned from US National Parks, fourth UAS test site operational, Washington Post study of crashing UAVs, a prize for your drone video, the latest news on UAVs in Brazil and Australia, and CNN wants to prove news drones are safe.

The News

FAA Claims Authority Over Unsafe Model Aircraft Flights

The FAA has published a policy notice stating that the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 gives the FAA authority to regulate model aircraft as unmanned aircraft if the model is flown in an unsafe manner.

According to the FAA press release, this guidance “comes after recent incidents involving the reckless use of unmanned model aircraft near airports and involving large crowds of people.”

The Interpretation of the Special Rule for Model Aircraft says:

“This action provides interested persons with the opportunity to comment on the FAA’s interpretation of the special rule for model aircraft established by Congress in the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012. In this interpretation, the FAA clarifies that: model aircraft must satisfy the criteria in the Act to qualify as model aircraft and to be exempt from future FAA rulemaking action; and consistent with the Act, if a model aircraft operator endangers the safety of the National Airspace System, the FAA has the authority to take enforcement action against those operators for those safety violations.”
Provide your comments to FAA by visiting the Federal eRulemaking Portal and searching for docket number FAA-2014-0396.

FAA Interpretive Rule addressing “Special Rule for Model Aircraft” Academy of Model Aeronautics response

The Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA) is not happy. They point out that they have managed model aircraft for 77 years. Furthermore, the Special Rule for Model Aircraft established by Congress exempts model aircraft from regulation as long as the activity “is conducted in accordance with and within the safety programing of a community-based organization,” that being the AMA.

US officials move to ban drones from national parks

Because it believes unmanned aircraft annoy visitors, harass wildlife and threaten safety, the U.S. National Park Service is banning unmanned aircraft.

In its press release, Prohibition of Unmanned Aircraft in National Parks, the NPS says the policy memorandum “directs superintendents nationwide to prohibit launching, landing, or operating unmanned aircraft on lands and waters administered by the National Park Service.”

US ban for national park drones contrasts to AU indifference

The Australian Civil Aviation Safety Authority is proposing that UAVs weighing less than two kg should not be regulated.

Writer Ben Sandilands says that he expects “that CASA and the Minister will embrace the chaos, and the maiming, damaging and even loss of life that is expected to ensue as the popularity of light weight drones costing small change takes off.”

FAA Announces Texas UAS Test Site Now Operational

The FAA has issued a two-year Certificate of Waiver or Authorization (COA) to the Texas A&M University – Corpus Christi UAS test site, making it the fourth of six to become operational. The COA allows the Texas site to use an American Aerospace Advisors RS-16 UAS.

This test site will concentrate on:

  • safety of operations and data gathering in authorized airspace,
  • UAS airworthiness standards,
  • command and control link technologies,
  • human-factors issues for UAS control-station layout,
  • detect-and-avoid technologies.

When Drones Fall from the Sky

A Washington Post investigation reveals that since 2001, more than 400 large U.S. military drones have crashed around the world. The causes for the crashes are things like mechanical breakdowns, human error, and bad weather.

The Washington Post call this “a record of calamity that exposes the potential dangers of throwing open American skies to drone traffic.”

Drone Prize 2014

Sponsored by the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) and the AUVSI Cascade Chapter, this competition seeks to demonstrate drones used to serve the greater good. If you fly your drone with a civic purpose on a mission to improve society, share your video to show the difference you made, and enter to win more than $10,000 in prizes.

Participants who enter must fly their drone strictly for hobby or recreational purposes. Entries will be accepted through July 27th, 2014. Open to USA residents only.

All eyes on Brazil’s drone boom

Brazil doesn’t have restrictive regulations for UAVs, so business is booming. There are eight UAV manufacturers in São Paulo alone. But Brazilian Air Force Major Luiz Felipe says that doesn’t mean you can spy with your drone with impunity.

The Brazilian Air Force uses two Elbit Systems drones for patrol and surveillance of borders, major sporting events, and drug smuggling activity.

There is no new news on the World Cup spying incident. A FIFA spokesperson says there have been no further discoveries, and that they don’t even have confirmation that it even happened.

CASA plans legal action over drone crash in Geraldton

A triathlon competitor in Australia sustained injuries after she was allegedly hit in the head by a UAV, and the Civil Aviation Safety Authority plans to take legal action against the pilot. That pilot says he lost control after being “channel hopped.”

CNN wants to prove that drones are safe for news reporting

CNN and the Georgia Institute of Technology have started a research project to understand how news-gathering UAVs could be used safely in US airspace.

Video of the Week

Propellerheads Aerial Photography wedding video. Parker takes Airwolf up to document a wedding and the fireworks after the ceremony.


Drones Over America, a 60 Minutes Segment, via Charley.

UAV046 Roger Connor Curates UAVs at the Smithsonian


While at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum’s Become a Pilot Day, David and Max spoke with Roger Connor, who curates the Unmanned Aerial Vehicles.

In this recorded conversation with Roger, we talk about the history of UAV’s and how the Museum selects aircraft for display. The Museum exhibits include a number of Military Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, including the QH-50 Dash, MQ-1L, and Dark Star.

We also learn about planned future exhibits, and Roger is beginning to explore the possibility of adding a DJI Phantom or Phantom 2 to the National Collection. He would like to hear from people who might be willing to donate one and have accomplished something interesting or significant with their example. Contact him at

RQ-2A Pioneer

RQ-2A Pioneer

UAV045 Wide World of UAV Sports

PowerUp 3.0 Smartphone Controlled Paper Airplane

The third FAA test site goes live, UAV’s to compete at Reno Air Races, drones spying at the World Cup, watching swim competition through the eyes of a quadcopter, hockey fans celebrate their victory by smashing a quadcopter, TV coverage of American football by drone, and mixing manned and unmanned flights in Japan.

The News

FAA: Nevada unmanned aircraft systems test site goes live

UAS test site number three of six is now operational. The FAA granted the State of Nevada team a Certificate of Waiver or Authorization (COA) to operate an Insitu ScanEagle at the Department of Energy airport at Desert Rock.

The airport is closed to the public, the ScanEagle will not fly above 3,000 feet, and the COA is good for two years. The research topics are UAS standards and operations, operator standards, and certification requirements. They’ll also look at how civil UAS will integrate with NextGen.

Reno Air Races to Have Festival Atmosphere This Year

The Reno Air Racing Association is planning to make some changes for the 2014 National Championship Air Races, including a competition between drones. They also intend to transmit live race coverage to the jumbotron from a drone.

Someone Used A Drone To Spy On France’s World Cup Team

The World Cup draws out the sporting passion in many people, so it’s no surprise that a drone flying over the French team practice created a furor.

HPA students use drone technology at Hapuna Roughwater Swim

Hawai’i Preparatory Academy students are demonstrating good uses for UAVs. Two graduates used a DJI Phantom for FPV as 300 swimmers set out on a one-mile race in the ocean.

Other Academy projects include land survey projects, mapping hard to reach parts of the island, virtual reality tours, and inspecting wind power and solar panels. Many of the students are employed by local farmers to have the drones inspect their land.

Celebrating Kings fans send a message to LAPD: No drones

As L.A. Kings fans celebrated the team’s Stanley Cup win, they observed a camera-equipped UAV overhead. The frenzied hockey fans threw trash at the copter, brought it down, and wrecked it.

NBC Sports: NFL Network Considering Use of UAS to Cover Training Camp

An unnamed source says that the National Football League is making plans to use UAVs for the Inside Training Camp series on the NFL Network. They intend to use “hovercraft” to film practice.

U.S.A.F.—A First For A Global Hawk (RPA | UAV | UAS)

For the first time, a UAV has flown from an airfield that supports both military and civilian operations. The Misawa Air Base in Japan is home to the U.S. Army, Navy, and Air Force, as well as the Japan Self-Defense Forces.

The partnership between the U.S. military and Japan should provide experience operating manned and unmanned aircraft together with very different mission profiles.

Video of the Week

Can a paper plane turn into a drone?

A former Israeli Air Force pilot has developed a kit that you connect to a paper airplane and control with a smartphone app. The “PowerUp 3.0 Smartphone Controlled Paper Airplane” was a Kickstarter project that raised $1.2 million (they were only looking for $50,000). The kit should be available at retail in August.


Flighttest - How to Fly a Multirotor

The folks at Flite Test are starting up a How to Fly a Multirotor video series.

AOPA: Unmanned Aircraft and the National Airspace System is an interactive online course from the Air Safety Institute, with support from the Department of Defense.

UAV044 Small UAS and Large UAS

DraganFlyer X6The LAPD is evaluating drones, quadcopter pilot assaulted over privacy concerns, a novel delivery by drone concept, Switzerland picks the Hermes, RQ-21A Blackjack deployment in Afghanistan, and the U.S. Navy tests an Aerostar.

The News

LAPD Chief Beck to Vet Drones Before Use

The Los Angeles Police Department has received two Draganflyer X6 Unmanned Aerial Vehicles from the Seattle Police Department, to be used for manhunts and standoffs. The LA Police Chief says he will work with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) to ensure that the Draganflyers do not infringe on individual privacy rights.

Consumer drone pilot gets ass kicked by chick

A man at Hammonasset State Park in Madison, Connecticut was approached by a woman who felt that the quadcopter he was flying was a violation of privacy. She called the police, then allegedly assaulted the man, which was captured on video.

HorseFly ‘Octocopter’ Primed to Fly the Future to Your Front Door

The University of Cincinnati and AMP Electric Vehicles have partnered to create the HorseFly. This octocopter is paired with a delivery truck, and together they deliver packages. As the truck travels to make deliveries, the drone autonomously delivers a package, then returns to the truck to pick up the next one.

Switzerland selects Hermes 900 MALE UAV

With an endurance of around 36 hours, the Israeli Elbit Systems Hermes 900 will certainly provide a big increase in capability over the 4-hour endurance of the Rangers they use now. However, the bigger aircraft also comes with a larger operational footprint.

Blackjack UAS deploys to Afghanistan

The U.S. Marine Corps has deployed the Boeing/Insitu RQ-21A Blackjack to Afghanistan. The 61.2kg (135 pound) Blackjack is about 86 pounds heavier than the ScanEagle it replaces. Payload is up to 11.3kg (25 pounds), it has an internal bay, and electro-optic and infrared cameras.

First UAV Flight Over National Airspace at Dahlgren Supports Navy Combat System Tests

A fixed-wing Aerostar Unmanned Aerial System is being tested at the Naval Support Facility (NSF) Dahlgren. The Aerostar can perform various missions such as: target acquisition, artillery fire adjustment, targets designation, and battlefield and borders control.

Photo of the Week

From Isaac Alexander @Jetcitystar: A “drone street sign.”

Video of the Week

Dji Phantom 2 Vision : Fly Over Purling Brook Falls, Springbrook National Park, Australia. This single drop “horsetail” fall of about 100 meters is in Queensland, south of Brisbane.


UAV043 Good Uses and Bad Uses for Drones

Movie set

The movie industry petitions FAA for UAS exemption, UAS impact on traditional helicopter businesses, commercial UAVs in Canada, drug smuggling with drones, celebrities from history and drones, the video of the week, and listener feedback.

The News

FAA May Exempt Film Industry from UAV Rules

The FAA is considering granting seven professional aerial cinematography companies an exemption that would allow them to create video with UAVs. This comes from a petition by the Motion Picture Association of America on behalf of the companies.

In their press release, the FAA says, To receive the exemptions, the firms must show that their UAS operations will not adversely affect safety, or provide at least an equal level of safety to the rules from which they seek the exemption. They would also need to show why granting the exemption would be in the public interest.”

To get a good understanding of what the FAA requires and the degree of detail provided, look at the exemption petitions filed with the FAA:

Could Drone Use Cut Into the Helicopter Filming Business?

If (or when) commercial aerial video operations from sUAS takes place, what will be the impact on traditional helicopter companies?

Drones go commercial, take on tasks from industry to farming

There is a boom for unmanned aerial vehicles, and Canada has a “drone-friendly” environment. Military exports are not as restrictive, nor are regulatory requirements, and Canada is well-positioned for agricultural applications.

Cartels Are Reportedly Building DIY Drones to Fly Drugs Over the Border

Mexican drug cartels are reportedly building drones to carry illegal drugs into the U.S. Drone lawyer John L. Davidson writes in the blog “Law of Drones, UASs, UAVs, and sUASs” that “Before long, ambitious cartel members will begin to fly unmanned drone aircraft from Mexico into the US, packed with high value narcotics.”

Marilyn Monroe’s World War II Drone Program

Eighteen year old Norma Jean worked during World War Two in a factory making remote-controlled pilotless target drones. A Captain ordered a photographer to take some pictures of women in war production. One photo shows a beaming Norma Jean holding a Radioplane propeller. The teenager later changed her name to Marilyn Monroe. The Captain was Ronald Reagan.

Video of the Week

CokeDrones by Coca-Cola Singapore & Singapore Kindness Movement – Coca-Cola brings multicopters into an advertising program. From Kevin.