Undoubtedly among the hottest boys’ toys with benefits to hit the market lately, unmanned aerial drones are causing a great deal of contention. At a loss about how to deal with their runaway popularity, authorities’ responses include threatening to outlaw all use of them. Of course, military spec drones could pose a serious threat that has to be contained – still taking into account their powerful potential to effectively combat poaching, for example – but we’re talking about the smaller drones that fly way below aircraft level, over shorter distances with more limited battery life.
Consulting the expert pilots we work with who are tapped into the regulation process through their affiliation with aviation authorities, the current consensus apparently acknowledges how unrealistic and counter-productive this knee-jerk, bureaucratic reaction could be. Given the high number of drones already in public hands, some for fun and others that have been contributing to aerial photography and videography work, more consideration is required. In the meantime, our understanding is that the scope remains to fly within certain parameters, clearly observing safety measures, which have always been applicable anyway. These key issues need to be addressed when activating an unmanned aerial drone for the safety of the pilot and bystanders, as well as the protection of the drone itself and any equipment mounted on it.
This includes setting the homing signal to ensure that the drone doesn’t go rogue and desert you, configuring the GPS so that it follows instructions from your control pad, and doing comprehensive test flights to hone your skills and hand-eye co-ordination. This last step is essential because of the inverted nature of your controls when the drone is flying towards you, as opposed to normal left and right when it is flying away from you. It may sound deceptively simple, but in fact requires significant practice, especially if you intend to fly the drone within a relatively confined space.
All that said, once you get the hang of how to deal with legislation and manoeuvre the drones in flight, they can be cool toys and effective tools to enhance footage and photos of select property, events and other subject matter. They can also be operated way less expensively and with an infinitely lower carbon footprint than traditional helicopters and microlight aircraft, for example. It simply doesn’t make sense to outlaw all use of them and it will be interesting to see how the authorities respond going forward.