Monthly Archives: June 2015

UAV100 Looking Back and Looking Ahead

David and MaxWe look back at the first 100 episodes, and ahead to the next 100. We also talk with Curator Roger Connor from the Smithsonian’s National Air & Space Museum.

The First 100 Episodes

The UAV Digest was started as a spinoff of the Airplane Geeks podcast, with Episode #1 published on August 16, 2013. David and Max wanted to explore the exploding unmanned aircraft industry and communicate the positive uses for “drones.”

Early conversation topics included the desire of many to begin commercial operations in areas such as real estate, precision agriculture, search and rescue, disasters and humanitarian relief, package delivery, and many more.

The slow regulatory process in the U.S. came up over and over, but so did examples of unsafe use of UAVs by operators who didn’t know any better.

We did see the FAA step up with the launch of the UAS test centers, an exemption process, and finally the proposed regulations in the form of the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM).

The Next 100 Episodes

David and Max then mention some of the topics that we’ll likely be talking about in the future. These include the next steps in the rulemaking process, creating awareness about safe operation, advancements in technology such as sense and avoid, and exciting applications for unmanned aircraft.


Roger Connor


Roger Connor is curator for Vertical Flight at the Smithsonian’s National Air & Space Museum. We spoke with Roger at the Innovations in Flight Family Day and Outdoor Aviation Display at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Virginia. He tells us about some new additions to the unmanned aircraft collection, and those that were turned down. Roger also gives us a peek at some of the future acquisitions, including an Insitu ScanEagle and the Draganflyer X6 that was the first police UAV in the U.S.

Video of the Week

A drone just hit my plane this morning

This video purports to show a multicopter striking an airliner and breaking off a winglet. In his post Drone Hits Airliner, visual effects man Bruce Branit admits it was a stunt. Drone Strike on Snopes confirms.


Hobby Drone Prevents Firefighting Aircraft From Flying Over California Wildfire


Special thanks to @dronemama for doing the show notes and WordPress maintenance. Thanks also to our great sponsors, GoEngineer and UAV Propulsion Tech. We also appreciate the support we get from those of you who have become patrons of The UAV Digest.

UAV099 Multirotor Racing

A multirotor racer, post crashGuest Chris Thomas from MultiGP talks with us about the sport of FPV multirotor racing.


Chris Thomas is the founder of MultiGP, a grassroots racing organization with a mission to make FPV multirotor racing a real sport. With over 30 chapters in the United States, MultiGP provides the rules, equipment, and software for FPV racing.

Jeremiah from Stone Blue Airlines (L) Chris (R)

Jeremiah from FPV supplier Stone Blue Airlines (L) and Chris Thomas (R)

We talk with Chris about what you need to get started, how much you can expect to spend to compete in FPV racing, the rules that ensure event safety, and the formula for scheduling events. MultiGP is focused on helping other people establish racing in their area, so we talk about finding land and forming chapters so people have an outlet and a place to fly.
Chris is an entrepreneur and avid pilot who lives in Florida. He spends most of his days either flying, working on MultiGP, or with his family.  In the past he has traveled the US as a catastrophe insurance adjuster during major storms and has started several successful companies.  For fun, Chris flies powered parachutes, drones, and single engine fixed wing aircraft. An interesting fact is that he once flew a powered parachute to 16,000 feet in Florida! Chris hopes to die doing something exciting so that in the afterlife people will enjoy hearing his story about how he got there.

FPV Racing Resources

Videos of the Week

FPV Drone Racing in Florida – MultiGP April 18

Florida Drone Racing Team Explores Cool Building – MultiGP

FPV Danger Zone 60FPS

UAV098 HeliVideo to Provide Footage at U.S. Open

The HeliVideo fleet

HeliVideo to cover U.S. Open, commercial drone market share, China uses drone to catch cheaters, using TV signals to sense aircraft, a Google drone patent, and UAS full type certificates.


How FOX Sports will use drones at the U.S. Open, and why the FAA is watching

FOX Sports is using octocopters from Austin-based HeliVideo to cover the golf championship at Chambers Bay. HeliVideo says they provide “FAA approved cinematography for television and film.” The HeliVideo fleet includes a Small Sensor Hexacopter with a Panasonic Lumix GH3, a Full Frame Octocopter sporting a Canon 5D Mark 3, an EPIC 6k Dragon Octocopter, and an EPIC 6k Dragon Single blade helicopter.

For the golf tournament, HeliVideo is bringing a four-man team and more than $1 million in equipment — including the DJI Spreading Wings 1000 drone. HeliVideo received their exemption last September. An authorized, licensed pilot will fly the drones, while a visual observer will keep tabs on the devices at all times.

Forty eight percent of commercial drone platforms in the USA made by DJI

sUAS News reports that DJI has 48.4% of the “commercially licenced platforms” in service. AeroVironment follows with 12.1%, 3DR with 7.6%, and Precision Hawk with 3.9% This is from a total population of 380 platforms.

Authorizations Granted Via Section 333 Exemptions

This list from the FAA shows Petitioners, Grant Issue Date, Operation/Mission, and the Authorizations document.

China Uses a Drone to Curb Cheating on College Placement Exams

The National College Entrance Exams in China are critical to the future success of the 9.5 million students who take the 2-3 day test. This has led to cheating schemes where students send exam questions out to others, who then transmit answers back to the student.

Now Chinese education authorities are fighting back with a drone. It flies over testing centers and scans for signals being sent to devices brought in by students. The drone is reported to be about the size of a gas station pump and cost tens of thousands of dollars.

TV signals a possible alternative to radar

Air traffic control company NATS has been working with Thales and contract R&D company Roke Manor to see if television transmission signals could be used to detect and direct aircraft. In a trial conducted over London, more than 30 aircraft were tracked at altitudes of up to 10,000 feet.

Google Working On Fleet of Drone Ambulances To Save Your Life, Reveals a Newly Granted Patent

Google was granted United States Patent 9,051,043 titled “Providing emergency medical services using unmanned aerial vehicles.” It provides for a fleet of UAVs configured to: identify remote medical situations, determine the target location, select a UAV with the proper configuration, and deploy the UAV to the target location to provide medical support. Sounds a lot like the Amazon drone delivery patent.

FAA Working Eight UAS Full Type Certificates

A type certificate would allow a UAS manufacturer to fly the aircraft throughout U.S. airspace. Larger UASs like the Boeing Insitu ScanEagle and AeroVironment’s Puma fly under type certificates issued in the Restricted category. Experimental type certificates have been issued to other UASs which generally prohibit commercial uses. There are no type certificate requirements for UASs under 55 pounds.


Expert: Drones Causing Major Aviation Disasters Is ‘A Question Of When It’s Going To Happen, Not If’

David provides expert opinion to CBS DC.

UAV097 Drone Lawyer Jonathan Rupprecht

Boeing patents drones that can be charged midair, from PatentYogiConversation with drone lawyer Jonathan Rupprecht, a NASA and Verizon UAS tracking system, the Google Internet HALE drone crashes, and Boeing patents a drone charging concept.


Jonathan Rupprecht, Esq.In December 2014, Jonathan Rupprecht formed Rupprecht Law, a firm providing legal services for operators of unmanned aerial vehicles.

Jonathan authored a book on the law in the United States pertaining to unmanned aircraft called Drones: Their Many Civilian Uses and the U.S. Laws Surrounding Them. He later was an advisor for one of the amicus briefs for the Huerta v. Pirker case.

We talk with Jonathan about the state of drone law, areas that need to be figured out (like export control, frequency allocation, federal versus local jurisdiction), and what lawyers can offer (such as support for building the business plan.) Jonathan discusses how issues like privacy might already be covered under existing laws, the open issue of navigable airspace, and the notice and comment process.  We also consider building safety awareness among the general drone-flying public.

Jonathan Rupprecht is a commercial pilot for single and multi-engine aircraft ratings and also a flight instructor for airplanes and instruments. He obtained a Bachelor of Science in Professional Aeronautics from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Magna Cum Laude, and a Juris Doctor from Florida International University School of Law.

The first book led into him being requested to be a co-author on an American Bar Association book called Unmanned Aircraft in the National Airspace: Critical Issues, Technology, and the Law. Jonathan wrote on administrative law, the FAA rule making process, and the special rule on unmanned aircraft.


NASA Developing Unmanned Aerial System Traffic Management

NASA and Verizon plan to monitor US drone network from phone towers

The NASA Unmanned Aerial System Traffic Management system, or UTM, is a  cloud-based concept to manage air traffic operated beyond visual line of sight at low altitudes. UTM Principal Investigator Dr. Parimal Kopardekar says, “We need a way to organize the UAS traffic, whether that’s by crisscrossing or with a bike lane or HOV lane kind of construct. The system can make these things happen based on demand. UTM is a virtual system.”

To learn more, the Guardian filed a Freedom of Information Act request for documents and learned that last year telecom company Verizon signed an agreement with NASA “to jointly explore whether cell towers … could support communications and surveillance of unmanned aerial systems (UAS) at low altitudes.”

Google’s High-Flying Internet Drone Crashed in New Mexico Weeks Ago

The Solara 50 drone built by Google-owned Titan Aerospace crashed shortly after takeoff. The solar powered, 50 foot wingspan drone is designed to linger at 65,000 feet and provide Internet connectivity. The NTSB is investigating.

Boeing patents system for airborne drone charging

The Boeing patent is titled, “Autonomous aircraft with disconnectable tether” and describes a system where drones drop tethers to ground-based charging stations.

Video of the Week

Sky Pixel LA – SBC Flooding Part 1

Listener Heath sent in the link to this video showing some of the flooding around the Shreveport, Louisiana area. It’s a very artistic portrayal of a very serious situation. Part 2 is more of a look at the effect of the flooding on people.


Here and There June 3, 2015 Max Flight

Max appeared on the KSFR 101.1FM, Santa Fe Public Radio show, Here and There with journalism pro Dave Marash. They talked about drones, applications, regulatory issues, privacy, and more.

Enrique Iglesias Undergoes Hand Surgery After Drone Accident

Singer Enrique Iglesias catches a quadcopter with his hand in his act. Things didn’t go so well for Iglesias in the Tijuana performance.

Extreme Sandbox

Extreme Sandbox in Hastings, Minnesota opened an extreme adventure attraction called RC Adventure where visitors can operate DJI Phantom 2 drones on obstacle courses.