Drones have exploded into the public eye in recent years, and the sales of the nifty unmanned aerial vehicles have now become a multi-billion-dollar industry.
In the United States alone, more than 325,000 drones have been registered since the Federal Aviation Administration implemented their registration program in late December 2015. However, the total number of drones in the U.S. is likely to be much higher.
The history of drones dates back to long before they evolved into the quadcopters that are being sold to consumers today.
The drone era began with the famous Ryan Firebee, which was originally designed for U.S. military target practice, post World War II, but was later adopted for surveillance use. This eventually progressed into the ominous Predator and Reaper attack drones that President Obama humorously and famously threatened the Jonas Brothers with.
The military craze for drones quickly turned to a public one, and a few years ago, we started seeing quadcopters popping up in toy shops and tech-stores. Now, it seems they are being used for everything, ranging from aerial photography to surveillance.
Although initially expensive, more affordable drones entered the market, making them an easy purchase for the everyday consumer. Nobody could have predicted the mania that then ensued. Soon, quadcopters were the center of every “Hunger Games”-style face off at a Best Buy black Friday sale; and they fell from the sky like rain as novice flyers struggled to control their new toys.
Rapid improvements in the technology used in drones made them much more accessible to non-professionals, and many of them can practically fly themselves. However, Giles Shaxted, a local drone hobbyist, warns beginners not rely on this technology too heavily, saying “like with a GPS, don’t take it for granted.” He notes that the “expensive drones can be easier to fly.”
“As the price goes up, it becomes more and more easy,” he says. For people wanting to purchase their first drone, Giles suggests that inexpensive starter drones, which can cost next to nothing and come in a compact and manageable size, are a good option.
Rules and regulations
Unfortunately for people looking to take up drones as a hobby, with great power comes great responsibility. As a result, the Civil Aviation Authority of the Cayman Islands has introduced a set of regulations to keep us common drone pilots in check.
Without a special permit, people are not permitted to fly within a 3-nautical-mile radius of the perimeter of all airports, and a 1-nautical-mile radius of the perimeter of Northward Prison. Alternatively, you could break the law and fly there anyway, but that will earn you a $6000 fine and up to two years in prison. So, unless you’re really rich or like small confining environments, that’s a no go. Additionally, those who want to fly drones for commercial use, have to obtain a license from the Civil Aviation Authority.