A Reasoned, If Not Droning Response

After a week of phone calls, emails and posts by angry and threatening drone people, I have to say I've come around. My opinion has changed about drones and the video I posted.

My initial intent was to make something visually interesting. To tell a story, frightening as it may be. I think it worked. And you guys are really mad about it! 

I know many multi-rotor pilots and almost all of those pilots are responsible and meticulous. They don't take risks and safety is always on their minds. They maintain their investment in hardware, carry liability insurance and constantly practice their flying skills to be better pilots.

But the funny thing is, they all seem to know that one day some idiot is going to fly a drone into an airplane and make big news. They all seem to know that one day someone is going to throw a prop and drop a heavy rig on baby in a park. They dread that day.

But the last thing they want is to embrace some sort of license or regulation that might prevent this actual thing from happening! 

So my video, simulating that very thing, has become a surrogate event for something likely to soon happen. It has uncorked this pent-up expectation and sent a large number of drone hobbyists and professionals my way to vent their anger. Read the YouTube or LiveLink comment sections. "YOU HAVE NO IDEA OF THE DAMAGE YOU'VE CAUSED!!!", reads about 40 emails in my inbox right now. (Most have more exclamation points, but you get the idea.) Maybe they are right. Maybe I don't understand.

You guys are so concerned with the public's perception. But you knew this was going to happen. Now it has... Only it hasn't! It's not real!

Perhaps we have the ability to make sure it never happens without having endangered anyone?

I flew RC planes many years ago. In those days, I had to join a club and pay $75 a year for a club license that insured me in case my 20 pound, fixed-wing toy smashed a car window, or gave a fellow pilot a concussion. I had to read a short pamphlet and take a test about the rules of the air and of common flying sense. I co-flew with a more seasoned pilot on a buddy-box until I could take off and land responsibly by myself. And I could only fly it in unpopulated areas or designated RC fields. Most of you respect your hobby like this still. But some don't. 

So, this outraged response of the drone community (excuse me, UAV community, as I have been corrected more times than I can count) has changed my mind. I now believe that some sort of regulation like this going to be necessary. You have to take a test and qualify to be able to drive a car or fly a plane. Why not some sort of qualification of your ability to fly a heavy piece of carbon fiber with spinning blades around civilians? Why not have visible registration numbers or RFID to keep multi-rotor pilots responsible and traceable to the aircraft they've purchased? The people who treat this as a business will not be the problem. Those pilots are self-regulating and playing by similar rules already for their own safety and those around them.

And it's likely not the hobbyist who buys a micro or a Parrot or Phantom will cause anything more newsworthy than a black eye or chopping off Enrique Iglesias's fingers.  

It's the guy who buys the biggest, most expensive toy he can find - one he has no respect for, nor skill to fly - who accidentally kills someone with it. He will be the guy that changes this argument forever. It's that guy who is going to ruin your business and ground the industry, not my visual effects shot.

So maybe all of the professional UAV people who 'can't believe the damage I have done' should reconsider. You're basically saying, "I wont kill anybody, but if someone else does, that's not my problem.!" But it will be. Get on the right side of this now.

After all. This wasn't real.

No one was hurt.

The real thing has not actually happened....