Americans’ fascination with aerial photography began more than 150 years ago when Gaspard-Félix Tournachon aka Nadar took the first aerial photos of France from a tethered baloon flying some 1600 feet above the ground.
Aerial photography came to the United States thanks to the work of James Wallace Black a couple of years later. His technique of using hot air balloons provided America with its first looks of Boston from above.
As technology progressed through the film era, the techniques evolved to include things like kites. Kites were being sent up with cameras and fuses to set them off. After World War II the CIA used carrier pigeons with cameras to determine enemy positions.
Well we’ve certainly come a long way in a short period of time. Pictured here is the DJI Phantom 2 Vision +. This and other drones like this have meant that an average person can now take aerial photos that up to now have required an aircraft to obtain. Large scale companies like Amazon want to use devices like these to make deliveries. Hollywood wants to use them for its filmmaking. Government wants in on the act as Fire and Police contemplate these devices for search & rescue missions.
The future of drones remain questionable however. Drone use aka “Radio Controlled” or “Unmanned Aircraft” is facing ever increasing restrictions “in the name of the law” and not.
Drone (Unmanned Aerial Devices) are currently banned in all 84 million acres of National Parks. Law enforcement seem to react to these aerial devices in a negative way towards hobbyist like myself even though no laws exists at this time.
On October 27, 2014 the FAA drafted this Notice to Airmen; 4/3621 NOTAM Details. In this they’ve cautioned us drone users against flying too close to stadiums and other sporting events. Specifically the announcement says in part that “…THE FEDERAL AVIATION ADMINISTRATION (FAA) CLASSIFIES THE AIRSPACE DEFINED IN THIS NOTAM AS ‘NATIONAL DEFENSE AIRSPACE’. ANY PERSON WHO KNOWINGLY OR WILLFULLY VIOLATES THE RULES PERTAINING TO OPERATIONS IN THIS AIRSPACE MAY BE SUBJECT TO CERTAIN CRIMINAL PENALTIES UNDER 49 USC 46307. PILOTS WHO DO NOT ADHERE TO THE FOLLOWING PROCEDURES MAY BE INTERCEPTED, DETAINED AND INTERVIEWED BY LAW ENFORCEMENT/SECURITY PERSONNEL.” An article written by David Kravets, Navigate a drone too close to a stadium, go to jail can be found at
- It’s too bad for responsible drone owners that idiots have the devices too.
- Privacy concerns are largely over-blown by folks that over estimate the drone capabilities.
- Police are people too. To them I’d like to say that it’s okay to be curious about what a drone pilot is doing. Don’t make up rules that don’t exists to discourage this currently lawful activity.
- The FAA says that legislation is coming in 2015. I hope they make sense and that whatever they come up with, they make it known to the general public. Had a friend not sent me the article mentioned above, I wouldn’t have known about the Stadium restrictions. Not that I would have flown my drone over a crowded stadium anyway.
- American skies are about to get a little more crowded in the future as drone flight become more common place.