The United States is in the midst of a national debate about the commercial and legal aspects of UAV flight in domestic airspace. Currently, civilian commercial applications like photography, are illegal without a COA or a waiver from the FAA. Metaphorically, you could say that UAVs are stuck in the arms of Lady Justice, until the our national policy makers deliver legal recommendations to integrate UAVs into the national airspace. Well, maybe more than just metaphorically.
You’re about to get a few days worth of irony. You were warned.
During a “pro-bono” photography shoot, an operator accidently parked his UAV in the arms of Lady Justice. The irony here is too much for words. Of course it was pro-bono, commercial work isn’t permitted by federal law.
In the original report, Terry Cline, an independent visual communications producer, director and writer, said a camera-equipped drone was lost while he was taking pictures of the Marion County Courthouse for a surprise project for the Marion CAN DO! program and the Marion Area Convention & Visitors Bureau. Cline said the drone caught an unexpected breeze and he lost control.
For his trouble, Terry Cline, earned a visit from the local police and a home search. Even the local fire department couldn’t rescue his UAV. If only they had a commercial grade UAV they could rescue the trapped one. See what I did there? Wait there’s more. How did we get that remarkable picture of the UAV in Lady Justice’s arms? UAV photograph? Yes.
After a week the helicopter was finally saved Saturday morning from the arms of Lady Justice by volunteer brothers Bart and Doug Hooper, who hung out a window with a long pole.
The DJI Phantom has a reputation for flyaways, so maybe it’s not operator error or a bad wind gust. The modestly priced quadrucopter ($679 USD) with a GoPro mount is enabling alot of people to jump on the professional aerial photography bandwagon. DJI claims they were selling in excess of 8000 Phantoms a month earlier this year.
What was that prediction the FAA made about the number of UAVs in civilian airspace in the next 5 years? On page 57 of the FAA Aerospace Forecast, “Based upon the expected regulatory environment, FAA predicts roughly 10,000 active commercial UASs in five years.”
Time to reconsider.
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