Drones have gained a reputation for hunting terrorists and spying on both foreigners and Americans alike. So it’s easy to overlook the fact that these hovering, loitering aircraft have quite a following in the hobbyist world as well. To the people who build and fly them recreationally, modern unmanned aerial vehicles (the terms drone and UAV are pretty much interchangeable) are just a technological advancement of the radio-controlled planes and helicopters that amateurs have been flying for years. The Federal Aviation Administration is still struggling to work out the rules for operating UAVs commercially, but for private use, the agency’s regulations are remarkably lenient (“Drone Skies,” September)—no license is required, and so long as you keep your drone below 400 feet and don’t do anything dangerous over densely populated areas, you’re free to fly around as you please.
By Glenn Derene