It's 2015, so first-person-view quadcopter racing is a sport now. [more inside]
Previously on the blue. Raphael Pirker, a.k.a. "Trappy" was the first person ever to to fined by the FAA for the commercial operation of a drone. However, instead of paying up, Pirker decided to contest the ruling with a little pro bono legal help. Last Thursday evening, the judge issued his ruling. The judge dismissed the FAA's case, agreeing with the defense that since the FAA never created any legally binding rules for small drones to begin with, they cannot now apply rules that would be used for a pilot flying a full size manned aircraft to drone operators. For now, the ruling means that commercial operation of SUAS in the United States is, basically, legal. Within 24 hours of the ruling, the FAA appealed the case to entire board of the NTSB. SUAS experimenters who have been waiting in the wings are pleased with the ruling.
Raphael Pirker, a.k.a. Trappy, is a FPV pilot who came to be well known after the video from his New York flight went viral. While most of the media coverage of Trappy's NYC exploits was positive, the incident prompted a heated debate in the hobbyist community, and the authorities took a dim view of it. Shortly afterwards, Trappy was hired by a PR firm to do an aerial video shoot over the University of Virginia. The FAA, having banned commercial use of UAVs in 2007, took the unusual step of issuing a $10,000 fine for the unauthorized flight. Earlier this month Trappy's attorneys filed a response(pdf) to the FAA's action which questions whether the FAA holds jurisdiction over "model aircraft" in the first place. According to Wired Magazine, he court's decision could determine the future of model aviation and miniature UAVs in the US. Once again, the response from the hobbyist/entrepreneur community has been spirited. [more inside]
Pretty stunning cockpit perspective footage of unmanned aerial vehicles interacting in close quarters, flying with a range of flyers (Echelon FPV). [more inside]
"We finally flew our first thermal camera flight yesterday afternoon. About 10 seconds after launch my co pilot looked at the screen and said something like, 'We now have our very own predator drone'" A rice farmer in Louisiana had a real problem, feral pigs were coming out of the woods at night, into the rice fields, tearing up his crops and causing thousands of dollars worth of damage. The only solution is to bring in hunters to shoot the pigs. Hunting feral pigs in waist high rice plants, in the dead of night, is very difficult. You have to be within 10 feet of them to shoot them and it can take hours to stalk them down. So the farmer calls his brother, an Electronic Warfare engineer who flies RC airplanes as a hobby. $5000 worth of electronics, including a $4500 infrared camera, are installed on a $80 model airplane, and the Dehogaflier is born!
First person video of Gabriel flying his model plane around Rio and landing it through the balcony of his 10th story apartment. Here's a greatest moments compilation that includes him launching and retrieving the plane from a boat, a moving train, through tunnels and around high rises. Here he is flying a plane with no engine, using only his car's windshield to generate lift. Also, RC Groups' "What to Buy For Video Piloting." Oh and Brazil is very pretty.