‘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.”