Notes on FAA policy; present and future 0

From the FAA's "Integration of Civil Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) in the National Airspace System (NAS) Roadmap"

"Ultimately, UAS must be integrated into the NAS without reducing existing capacity, decreasing safety, negatively impacting current operators, or increasing the risk to airspace users or persons and property on the ground any more than the integration of comparable new and novel technologies....

A key activity of the FAA is to develop regulations, policy, procedures, guidance material, and training requirements to support safe and efficient UAS operations in the NAS, while coordinating with relevant departments and agencies to address related key policy areas of concern such as privacy and national security. Today, UAS are typically given access to airspace through the issuance of Certificates of Waiver or Authorization (COA) to public operators and special airworthiness certificates in the experimental category for civil applicants. Accommodating UAS operations by the use of COAs and special airworthiness certificates will transition to more routine integration processes when new or revised operating rules and procedures are in place and UAS are capable of complying with them. The FAA has a proven certification process in place for aircraft that includes establishing special conditions when new and unique technologies are involved. This process will be used to evaluate items unique to UAS. In those parts of the NAS that have demanding communications, navigation, and surveillance performance requirements, successful demonstration of UAS to meet these requirements will be necessary....

Removing the pilot from the aircraft creates a series of performance considerations between manned and unmanned aircraft that need to be fully researched and understood to determine acceptability and potential impact on safe operations in the NAS."


Just a few highlights from the 70+ page report regarding integration of drones into the national airspace for civil and commercial purposes. Just recently (11/6/2013) the US Dept. of Transportation issued their Unmanned Aircraft Systems Comprehensive Plan. It can be found HERE

  • Shawn R

First Flight 0

After hours of research and internet browsing you finally decided to take the plunge and purchase your first DJI Phantom or Vision quadcopter. You wait anxiously as you check and recheck the tracking info for your package. The 2 Day Air shipping from UPS can't come soon enough!

In the meantime, you navigate to Drone Etc.'s video tutorial page and watch the instructional videos. In the middle of your third viewing of "Unboxing and Assembly" you hear a knock at the door. It's here! Like a kid on Christmas morning you open the white DJI box and uncover your new best friend. Inside the box you see the basic form of the quad that you have become accustomed to from all of the YouTube videos you've watched. The four motors sit attached to the ends of the arms from the main body waiting for their long white props. Before starting to attach the propellers and the landing gear, you plug in the battery charger and start charging the included battery. 

After 5 min. your drone is fully assembled and ready for it's FIRST FLIGHT! At this point you may start to feel that tingle of nervousness. Did you attach the propellers in the right direction? Are you going to be able to calibrate the compass as instructed? Will you remember the controls and their respective functions on the radio transmitter? These questions and more are swirling through your mind as you queue up the "Preflight Checklist" video again.

The moment of truth has arrived. It's time to power on your radio and drone. You've check and double checked the preflight checklist and you're good to go. You power on the quad and the motors come to life with a low hum and a slow spin of their props. With slow upward pressure you ease the right throttle stick upwards, increasing power to the four spinning props. The whine of the motors increases as the drone starts to smoothly lift off the ground. You're airborne! Even though nervous and a bit unsure, you immediately note how steady and responsive the quad is as it hovers in front of you, waiting for your command.

"Are adults really allowed to have this much fun anymore? This can't be legal!", you think to yourself. And with that, you throttle your quad high into the air and begin to realize the possibilities that await...


Flying your Phantom or Vision for the first (or second, or third) time can be intimidating. Here are a few tips to help you have a fun and safe relationship with your drone:

1- Become familiar with both the small instruction guide that comes with your Phantom or Vision, as well as the instructional videos. This ISN'T one of those toys that you can 'figure out as you go". There are very important steps to be followed when calibrating your drone before it's first flight, as well as the step-wise procedure before powering the drone up before each flight.

2- Remember to follow the correct sequence. Always turn on your radio transmitter FIRST, before connecting your battery and powering on the quad.

3- Be patient! Once powering on the Phantom or Vision don't move it around! Let it acquire satellites and set it's "home position". Wait for the corresponding lights (depending on your surroundings this may take anywhere from 30 sec. to 3 min.) to indicate that "home" has been found and locked.

4- For the first few flights keep the quad close and pay close attention to the exact amount of time that it has been powered on. As soon as you see those flashing red lights, bring it down, note the time, and use that as a guide for future flights. You may even consider attaching a simple digital timer to your radio.

By following these simple procedures before each and every flight you will ensure that you won't be one of those guys who posts a video or on a forum about how their drone just "flew away" or came crashing out of the sky. As in most aviation accidents, pilot error is the number one cause.

Be aware of your surrounding, be patient and calm before and during your flights. Be safe. Have fun!!

  • Jonathan B

Take a Look 0

Aaron Grimes show off another great video. This time you can see how the Phantom can really add true production value to your productions.

Fishpond USA - 2013 from Aaron Grimes on Vimeo.


  • Jonathan B

"Reinvented" isn't an Exaggeration 0

Watch this beautiful footage and then read the following details:

This breathtaking footage was achieved using a cineflex camera/gimbal mounted on a helicopter. The total cost for a setup like this?

Cineflex - approx. $300,000 plus helicopter time and pilot - approx. $1000/hr. Total cost? A helluva lot more than it needs to be...


Now watch this beautiful footage...


This was shot using a Phantom with the Zenmuse H3 2D Gimbal and a GoPro Hero 3. Total cost - approx. $1580


'Nuf said


  • Jonathan B

New NAZA V2 Master Control Unit 0

Check out the latest 'brains' from DJI, the NAZA-M V2!

  • Shawn Rowland