Will you find a drone under the tree this year? The Federal Aviation Administration thinks many will and according to several news reports they’re not happy because the flying gadgets or UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) have the potential to cause a lot of problems. At least, in inexperienced hands.
FAA Official: Million Drones for Christmas
FAA official Rich Swayze stated at an Airlines for America conference in Washington, D.C. this week that there will be something like a million drones sold during the upcoming holiday season, adding, “We’re trying to get out and educate people about potential dangers.”
What dangers? Last November, the Washington Post put together a list of dozens of incidents in which drones came scarily close to airliners and private planes and there have been more close calls since. The Post compilation includes the case of a Life Flight helicopter pilot who had to resort to evasive last-minute maneuvers to avoid colliding with a drone. The pilot of another aircraft with a similar close encounter was quoted as saying, “There’s a lot of bad things that could happen if it hits you.”
Flying a Drone the Safe Way
- The FAA now devotes an entire section of its website to Unmanned Aircraft Systems (which is how it refers to drones). It includes frequent updates such as the recent declaration of drone no-fly zones during the pope’s visit.
- The FAA also has an FAQ section all about drones.
- You can also search “learn to fly a drone” on Google to find several courses for drone owners (though FareCompare cannot vouch for any of these).
The big takeaway? A drone is not a toy. It can be fun and the video from camera-equipped drones can be breathtaking, but ownership comes the responsibility to fly safely.