Author Archive | Clint Hannah

Drone Footage of Major World Cities

Drone FootageIn the Game of Drones, you watch or you fly. Since I don’t currently own a drone, I’ll stick to Internet videos. Fortunately, there are some pretty awesome videos out there that provide drone footage from around the world.

Open Culture, which describes itself as “the best free cultural and educational media on the web,” gathered a collection of videos showing drone footage of Los Angeles, New York, London, Mexico City, and Bangkok in a way you’ve almost certainly never seen them before. Check out everything from the London Bridge to Mexico City’s Angel of Independence, seen in this picture. Definitely cheaper than a plane ticket.

 

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Drone Used to Film Fireworks

Drone FireworksIf you grew up in a state that banned fireworks, you might have at some point picked up some out of state products to make sure your celebration had a bang. Skirting the law with fireworks is something of a national pastime, but one drone user might have the most spectacular use yet.

Joe Stiglingh flew his drone over a firework demonstration this past May in West Palm Beach, and the result is incredible. With the Fourth of July and the American love of fireworks, the video very recently became viral. As Forbes notes, most large celebrations over water involve Coast Guard restrictions, so it is possible Stiglingh was violating the law, though we don’t know for certain.

This is not necessarily a commercial drone use, as it is very difficult to tell if his video will actually make money through its massive viewing audience on YouTube. At the very least, the video provides another idea about the ways in which drones could be used in the future.

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FAA Releases Notice Concerning Model Airplane Rule

FAA released drone noticeBackyard flying is more complex than Snoopy battling the Red Baron, and you might be surprised at how much debate goes into just what is and what isn’t a model airplane. The FAA released a “Notice of Interpretation” in an effort to clarify the model airplane exception of the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012, which said that devices considered to be model airplanes could operate without FAA approval or regulation.

The notice and accompanying press release say that the original law that applies to model airplanes does not apply to model airplanes that are being used for commercial purposes or flown in an unsafe manner. It also gives examples, as this picture shows, of what aircraft uses will and won’t be allowed. This notice might address one of the legal issues in the Pirker case currently going through the appeals process.

While the FAA’s efforts might be for clarification, they are being met with some resistance and skepticism. The Academy of Model Aeronautics released a statement saying it was “extremely disappointed and troubled.” One author said this notice just added to the confusion.

The notice is published in the Federal Register and takes effect immediately, but the FAA will take public comment for 30 days.

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FAA Approves First Commercial Drone Flight Over US Land

Drone

Picture of the Puma AE

In the words of famed, fictitious race car driver Ricky Bobby: “if you ain’t first, your last.” Future commercial drone users might prefer to come in second, but first place belongs to BP, as they received the first ever FAA clearance to fly a drone over domestic land for commercial purposes. While ConocoPhillips was approved for a drone flight towards the end of last year, that flight was only approved over water.

Don’t think this is going to cause widespread changes just yet. As the article points out, BP had to comply with very strict standards and policies in order to get approval. Still, they received FAA approval and their Puma AE drone and its 9.2 foot wingspan was up and flying on June 8. Strict guidelines or not, this approval is definitely a big development in the future of commercial drone use.

(Picture directly from Aerovironment website (the company that produces the Puma AE))

(h/t to my father, Roger Hannah, for alerting me to this story)

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Drone Journalism Resource Page

FIrstBlogImageIt’s not a bird, it’s not a plane, and unfortunately it’s not Superman either. So what is this small white device with propellers? It’s a drone, and in the next few years, drones just like this one might be whizzing over your head doing everything from taking pictures to delivering a late night pizza.

News companies might use drones to film crime scenes, natural disasters, or police chases. Amazon says it wants to use drones for deliveries. With the cheapest drones costing a little less than $300, soon even your nosey neighbor down the street might be able to buy a drone to keep up on the latest gossip and sell it to TMZ. But should commercial drones by journalists or other civilians be legal? It’s a topic that is being debated in courts and by legal scholars and journalists across the country.

To help bring some clarity to these questions, we thought it would be helpful to have a one stop shop for all you need to know about drones and the law.  Accordingly, we created new page on Drone Journalism and the Law in our media law resources section.  The page categorizes the resources by issues you might want to learn about, has relevant Tweets and news stories on the side bar, and will continue to be updated as the law changes and develops. Please let us know if we’ve missed something.

(Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons user PleClown pursuant to a Creative Commons CC by 2.0 license)

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