Just a few years ago, movies and tv shows that portrayed unmanned “drones” flying around cities, circling and hovering around buildings and “keeping a watchful eye” on everything below it, was science fiction. That day is now over. Drones are here, and they’re quickly becoming a part of everyday life. Scientists and engineers use drones for measuring, monitoring and surveying the areas that they are studying. Real estate agents use drones to take aerial photographs of the homes they’re listing. We’ve even seen drones used in firefighting – particularly for getting a bird’s eye view of wildfire spread without putting pilots and photographers in danger. I could go on and on, but there are more and more really cool, legitimate applications for drone technology every day – and, of course, just as many illegitimate ones. Personal drone use is on the rise as well, and the FAA estimated that as many as 1 million drones may have been sold over the holidays.
As more and more individuals and companies find application and value in deploying drones into the skies above us, the already busy sky due to traditional aircraft will get even more congested. In addition, drone pilots don’t generally file flight plans ahead of their flights and they aren’t necessarily privy to the flight plans of other aircraft in the area. There are legitimate safety concerns for travelers and there have been a number of reported sightings of drone activity near airports around the world in recent years.