The end of the beginning

This is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.

Winston Churchill

Not often I get to put a Winston quote in but I feel the end of an era is coming. In many ways its a good thing and about time too.

Farewell Cowboy drone flying. (perhaps)

3DR and DJI are rushing to tell us all about their geofencing flight termination routines before the FAA registration task team tell us how things are going to be.

Both companies are at those talks so maybe some sort of deal or compromise yet to be announced has been reached.

Geofences are not new, the Australian Outback Challenge has required them for years. That competition has done more to advance sUAS than any other. The Ardupilot autopilot, behind 3DR’s offerings has had geofences baked in.

I’m really not sure about DJI’s implementation. They will it seems allow anybody registered with them to unlock all but the most restricted airspace.

That can’t be right. Rather the local countries aviation authority issues an unlock code on a case by case basis. When the individual applies for the clearance required to fly wherever it might be anyway. Say central London or near Heathrow. Like this flight where all the bits of paper were in order.


One also has to wonder if the current loophole of covering the GPS on DJI platforms so it does not know where it is will be closed. Maybe if the GCS detects the user is trying to fly it in CAS then perhaps that could also terminate the flight.

At least these initiatives force the user to consider where they are flying. That is a good thing. How many will come home from Best Buy with a box and be disappointed that they can’t fly in their local school yard.

Some of us watch all this fuss from the sidelines and cast our minds back to simple times. Back way back in 2007 before all the fuss when only a handful of folks flew civilian drones and they just about all knew each other.

That was perhaps the start of the modern peoples drone age. It started getting cheap enough for the man on the street.

Its easy to lose sight of the real beginning in 1916 when at a failed demonstration Major Bell of the British Army exclaimed….

I could throw my bloody umbrella further than that!”

Coming up on 100 years later its a different story.