'Drones Are The New UFOs': AMA

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As might be expected, pilots are reporting seeing a lot more drones these days but the lather that sightings seem to create might be overblown, according to an analysis by the Academy of Model Aeronautics. AMA looked closely at each of the 1,270 sightings reported by pilots of manned aircraft in data released by the FAA in February that showed that 44 of those encounters could be described as close calls. That’s about 3.4 percent and the same as the results of similar analyses done by AMA in 2015 and 2016. “Back in the 70s and 80s, everything pilots saw was a UFO. Now everything they see is a drone,” AMA President Richard Hanson told Popular Science. “Drones are the new UFOs.”

Hanson told PopSci it’s possible pilots have now lumped everything they see in the air, from dry cleaning bags to kites and weather balloons, as drones. They’re also reporting perfectly legal drone operations. Some of the reports included sightings of drones being flown at well below the 400-foot ceiling. Despite all the hype, the notes that come with new drones about rules and drone registration and numerous programs promoting safe operation of the aircraft, Hanson told PopSci he thinks there’s more education to be done. “The vast number of sightings that are people operating inappropriately is because they just don’t know any better, they didn’t know they weren’t supposed to do what they were doing,” he said. “There are a few individuals who are irresponsible but you find that in any community of people.”

Comments (3)

Guess this might be what I would you expect to hear from someone in the model airplane community who isn't thinking critically. Seems Mr. Hanson thinks the best defense is a good offense. I would suggest Mr. Hanson do some serious flying with someone at his local airport, especially in some urban area and explain to the pilot how a 2 or 3 lb "rock" flying towards the windshield is not an issue. A small bird is an issue when it hits a light aircraft...a "drone" is a deadly projectile and not to be taken lightly.

It is happening much more often than he implies. I would suggest that the "vast number" of sightings that we pilots are seeing are not UFO's and in reality more often an RC model than not. What a stupid premise to suggest. What some in the modeling community fail (or just refuse) to recognize is that the "vast" majority of these aircraft are being operated by people without the requisite knowledge to operate in the National Airspace and all that comes with that...and I would suggest that it is quite a bit more than a few bad apples...many people just understand what they are dealing with when they launch one of these things from their back yard.

I grew up as a modeler myself, but learned quite a bit at the local flying field before flying my own airplane...granted, the deal was quite different many years ago in the RC world with limited radio frequencies and such which served to naturally restrict the flying to a small area with line of sight for the most part. Now, you can go down to the local hobby shop and buy an aircraft and in minutes launch it into harm's way using GPS and not even having to fly it...just send wherever it suits your fancy. Mr. Hanson does no one any favors by diminishing the issue by trying to pawn off the problem on pilots reporting flying plastic bags as drones. Please.

Posted by: robert peach | May 15, 2017 9:23 AM    Report this comment

Excellent comment Robert. When, not if, a "UAV" takes down a manned aircraft by someone "who is irresponsible and don't know what he is doing" as the "learned" Mr. Hanson so flippantly espouses, will that person face murder charges? What do you say Mr. Hanson.....Huh?

Posted by: Roger Scott | May 17, 2017 3:47 PM    Report this comment

Excellent comment Robert. When, not if, a "UAV" takes down a manned aircraft by someone "who is irresponsible and don't know what he is doing" as the "learned" Mr. Hanson so flippantly espouses, will that person face murder charges? What do you say Mr. Hanson.....Huh?

Posted by: Roger Scott | May 17, 2017 3:48 PM    Report this comment

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