Drone meet takes over Collingwood

Drone meet takes over Collingwood


They can be used to survey storm damage, to help with a police investigation or enjoyed as a hobby – drones are becoming popular but there are rules to follow when it comes to operating them in Canada.

Patrick Egan use to fly planes but after having a heart attack he had to stop. However thanks to drone technology, he can still experience what it’s like to be up in the air.

“They put you in a high definition experience so it’s actually quite a wide view up there, you get that feeling of space around you and beautiful vistas and in fact something will fly at you and you will literally feel like you’re in the sky.”

Hobbyists from all over the world came to Collingwood this weekend to talk about everything drone, a catch all term for the many different types of machines on display. Merrill Ross traveled from Albany, New York. He brought all of his toys and is hoping to learn a few tricks too.

“The biggest thing is to see all of the individual pilots and how they’ve engineered their own setups and how to make this work.”

Pilots control their drones from the ground, mounted cameras, and goggles and can make it feel as they are flying.

As the technology has become more user friendly, more commercial uses for drones have become apparent.

“We have people that use them for real estate video to get really great shots of houses. We’ve got people flying over forest fires – helping fire departments out that way and search and rescue for missing children,” says organizer Mike Feetham.

Police will sometimes use them at accident or crime scenes. When the Angus tornado hit earlier this year, a drone captured video of the aftermath. But as the models get easier to use, there have been more concerns about how this technology should be regulated.

“People in the U.S. are much more privacy concerned they don’t want drones flying over their houses, invading their privacy, going into their backyards,” added Feetham.

Drones can only be operated in certain places in Canada; they’re regulated by Transport Canada. Drones have to be under 25 kilograms and only for recreational use. Otherwise a pilot would require a special license. But most pilots at the meet say safety and privacy are just common sense.

“Not flying over people, not flying over private property, using wide open areas where you are not going to hurt anybody while flying these devices is just the right thing to do,” says Ross.

The drone meet will wrap up on Sunday and pilots say they hope rules regulating drones don’t get in the way of the fun of the hobby.

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