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Drones and Fireworks

UAVs , Unmanned Aerial vehicle or drones have until recently been beyond the reach of the man on the street with pricing into the thousands of pounds. A few years ago, these flying and almost silent hovering crafts, were set aside for the military and government departments who used UAVs in covert surveillance missions, and for the National Grid for inspecting difficult to get to equipment and map makers. The new drones, which are now widely available to the public, can stream live video to the operator and store it on digital media such as data cards and flash drives.

Since the early days of drones, technology has moved at a fantastic pace since they entered the market place for us humble civilians. Industry competition, new cheaper raw materials and technological developments have brought down the prices to as little as £50.00.

The uses of these gadgets is rearing its head in the business world as online shopping giant Amazon is looking into the possibility of delivering orders by pre-programmed drones.

If you type “drone fireworks” into YouTube and wade as we did through some of the 37,000 videos online featuring drones hovering above fireworks displays, and you get the idea how popular they are which is one of the reasons it's on our list of future boys toys.

As with most things in this world it is only when a product becomes increasingly popular that concerns arise. For anyone who has seen “National Treasure- Book of Secrets” one iconic moment is when Ben Gates and his colleague are using a drone to look for clues at the Eiffel Tower and are approached by a Gendarme (French policeman) asking them what they are doing, it does seem due to the nature of these devices that is possibly the usual line of questioning when spotted by the authorities.

At present there are around 130 companies and government agencies allowed to use these which must be registered with the civil aviation authority, these range from the BBC, Police Forces, missile manufactures, and the national grid to name but a few.

So where does the law stand for Joe Bloggs who fancies spending a bit of his hard-earned cash and filming his display from above for prosperity? At present in the UK this is being looked into as there is no legislation for aerial vehicles weighing less than 20 kilo, nor do they need an airworthiness certificate. Guidelines suggest that the operator must not fly the drone above 122 metres or 400 feet and not more than 500 meters away from the operator: this is deemed to be the pilot's line of sight. If you plan to film members of the public attending the show you may need to apply for operating permission from the C.A.A - just to check there is nothing else in the area the use of the drone could impact. We would also recommend stating to the crowd that UAVs are in operation as is required when closed circuit TV systems are operating.

If you direct the camera at an unsuspecting member of the public who is not aware and the drone in within 50 metres of the subject, this could be deemed to be covert in nature and you could be charged under the “Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000”.

For any of our American friends I would HIGHLY recommend checking with your local Federal Aviation Authority as laws can vary from State to State. The one thing we are aware of is that use of UAVs in Washington State airspace is banned under House Bill 2178, whilst in other parts of the U.S.A, petitions are being put together to allow members of the public to shoot them out of the sky should they object to their presence.

We hope that sometime soon some clear legislation comes to power clearly defining what we can and can't do with these useful little gadgets, in the meantime enjoy some of the best from the web.

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