A long time ago we published The SFAR Part 107 Shades of Things to Come… at that time many of the current experts and advocates had no idea what the heck a drone was. Even the visionaries that owned drone companies said we would never be regulated (and investment in advocacy was not needed), while others, including some currently running UAS programs for the tech giants , said there was no money or future in small UAS.
They weren’t alone in misreading the tea leaves as representatives from the Federal agencies including but not limited to DoD, DoJ, FAA, NASA, NOAA laughed at the notion of there ever being a $1000 (or less) Chinese UAV. I’m paraphrasing, but something along the lines of, the Chinese will never be able to build anything sophisticated like a UAV! The advocacy groups too just could not wrap their arms, heads or minds around the notion of the small commercial UAS sector. To them, the DoD guys were the only players with pockets deep enough to consider.
Some people are unaware that there were thousands of people doing commercial UA work before 2007, so it wasn’t like I had a crystal ball, drone divining rod or cape worthy super powers. Counter to popular belief this was not kicked off in 2008 or 2009, as there were autopilots and automatic flight aids available before 2007. The only difference now is all up systems are commercially available at a low price point, and easy enough for almost anyone to pilot.
There was the Pico Pilot for $350 and the FMA co-pilot that was the backbone of the whole DIY drones push start. Fred Marks had been doing drones for dog years, and if you had the dinero, you could buy a very robust autopilot from the guys at Procerus.
The capabilities were so far out even in early 2010 the whiz kids over at NAVAIR told me I was crazy, and no such animal existed, but that Unicorn did exist. Besides all of the naysaying and laughter we got a large percentage of what was published back in November of 2010. Could 107 have been better?
Well, an exemption (no license) for less than 4 pounds and frangible (ICAO) craft might have been nice, but AUVSI wouldn’t support in the 2012 FAA reauthorization. Even as late as the NPRM DJI Company representatives made negative comments. Oh well, some folks think the testing and licenses are necessary and in the end, maybe they are right.
Good luck and Godspeed droners!