Saturday, August 6, 2016

Drone Revolution Indeed!

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


Anonymous said...

Yes, Amherst Town Meeting is on Death Row…I had the same thoughts this week as I strolled through our farmers market, one of the first in the nation, visited Brookfield Farm, one of the first CSAs, drove by the Potwine fields filled with kids playing, saw a film at the Amherst Cinema, got some ice cream, sat outside drinking coffee another day…. It is a hellish place, this Amherst, and Town Meeting which created it must die. Seriously?

Larry Kelley said...

Yes seriously.

We have the highest tax rate in the area and with four major buildings projects looming on the immediate horizon those rates are gonna go through the roof.

Golf anyone?

Anonymous said...

Larry, what's the distant one of these drone can travel from the operator?

Larry Kelley said...

Has to stay within visual range.

Anonymous said...

Yes, but the voters and Town Meeting can vote the projects down. Isn't having that power in the hands of many citizens better than leaving the power in the hands of the few?

Larry Kelley said...

Hell no.

Anonymous said...

Love your drone pics over this past year, LK. But I've got to say, you're pretty good maneuvering that thing by now - you might as well learn how to pat yourself on the back with it (or does that violate FAA regs?).

Anonymous said...

:e have the highest tax rate in the area and with four major buildings projects looming on the immediate horizon those rates are gonna go through the roof."

Larry, you haven't spoken against a single one of those projects.

Larry Kelley said...

And the ONLY one I have spoken out in FAVOR of is the FOREVER talked about South Fire Station.