Patriotic drone over Springfield Technical Community College
300 feet over Mt. Sugarloaf summit
I was one of about 35 participants in an all-day educational seminar at the nifty new UMass Center, a satellite campus of our flagship University located at Tower Square in the heart of Springfield on Thursday.
'Twas an interesting demographic mix of DPW Directors, academics, civil engineers, consultants, agricultural folks, and a couple of Northampton police officers, although I was the only journalist.
And I came away higher than ever on the future of drones doing amazing things for our economy, agriculture and public safety.
The new FAA rules (Part 107) creating a Pilots Certificate for commercial use of a small unmanned aircraft -- aka drone -- go into effect August 29 and as one of the presenters pointed out, "We are the pioneers, similar to where the aviation industry was in the 1920s."
Previously to use a drone commercially you had to have a pilots license, so the new rules will open things up for the average person who could use an eye in the sky. Especially Public Safety Departments who could use them to save lives.
Alpine Commons fire June 4
I mentioned how Birdie assisted Chief Nelson at the Alpine Commons fire on June 4th, giving him a clear enough view of the roof to know it was no longer safe for his firefighters to be in the building.
Pelham brush fire July 24
And again a few weeks ago at the Pelham brush fire where aerial photos over three days showed the location, size, and how effective firefighter efforts had been over the three day battle.
The presenters pointed out the importance of public education to dispel some of the bad press drones have received, mainly due to irresponsible use that gives everyone a bad name.
Amherst's drone ban came up but I was quick to point out it was only an "advisory" article that cannot be enforced. Besides, Amherst Town Meeting is now on death row so they have bigger things to worry about.
Cities, towns or states can attempt to pass binding legislation (bylaws) but the FAA has control of airspace from just above grass to the heavens. Although drones are still limited to 400 feet of altitude.
American airspace hosts 90,000 flights per day with a mix of military, cargo and commercial aircraft. Already the number of registered drones outnumbers licensed pilots nationwide.
And soon enough some of those aficionados will be trained certified professionals.
Class demo by David Price using Phantom 3