Jeebus, the bitching and moaning.

Comes now the FAA with a comment period on new regulations for drones, which would require licensing and position reporting and blah de blah de blah.  Drone owners and libertarians are pounding the table angrily over the idea that they might have to kowtow to the Federal Government in order to fly their expensive drones.

As a non-drone owner, I’m like, eh…but that’s probably because I’m a federally-licensed amateur radio operator, required by the FCC to be licensed and be subject to federal regulations in order to exercise my First Amendment rights on the public airwaves.  (In fact, I worked my way up to Amateur Extra Class — which ain’t easy — so I didn’t have to deal with the nitpicky regs that define what frequencies I can use within the amateur bands.  As an Extra, I can use all of them without worrying about getting some officious functionary upset.)

As such, I don’t see how it’s so onerous to have to license and provide location data for a drone flying in public airspace. You’re a lot more likely to injure or kill someone with your drone than I am with my dual-band handy-talkie, or my HF radio and long wire at 35′ in my trees.

But if you want to complain and whinge to the FAA about drone licensing, which by the way only applies to drones that weigh more than .55 pounds, and wa wa wa:

Under the proposed rule, the vast majority of UAS would be required to have remote identification capability, however as discussed in section X. A. 3, a limited number of UAS would continue to not have remote identification. The FAA envisions that upon full implementation of this rule, no unmanned aircraft weighing more than 0.55 pounds will be commercially available that is not either a standard remote identification UAS or a limited remote identification UAS. However, there will be certain UAS including amateur built aircraft and previously manufactured UAS that might not have remote identification capability. A person operating a UAS without remote identification equipment would always be required to operate within visual line of sight [6] and within an FAA-recognized identification area. Under the proposed rule, an FAA-recognized identification area is a defined geographic area where UAS without remote identification can operate. An area would be eligible for establishment as an FAA-recognized identification area if it is a flying site that has been established within the programming of a community based organization recognized by the Administrator. The FAA would maintain a list of FAA-recognized identification areas at https://www.faa.gov. FAA-recognized identification areas are discussed further in section XV of this preamble.

(Emphasis mine.)  So what I think this means is that people like my buddy Geoff, who has a pretty good-sized professional-style drone, would still be able to fly his drone even though it doesn’t have remote identification capability, and even though it weighs more than half a pound.  All he has to do is keep it in visual line of sight and fly it in an area designated for such flight, which is probably going to be a lot more places than the complainers are whinging about.  And when the FAA mentions “a limited number of UAS”, what they really mean is, there will be a shitload of old drones out there that people will keep running regardless.  You can do a lot in line of sight, after all.

To make another point that’s similar to my FCC licensing point above, there’s a whole hobby full of radio-controlled model aircraft hobbyists out there that have to register their models and fly under restrictions that keep them out of controlled airspace.  So what makes drones different?  They cost less?  Ease of purchase of a ready-to-fly drone?  They hover instead of have to maintain level flight?  Come on.  Drones already have to stay below 400 feet and away from airports and other designated areas.  (Geoff’s drone has, I think, GPS and a database of the prohibited flight areas, and the drone will actually refuse to fly into them.  If his doesn’t have that feature, most if not all of the commercial drones in use today do.)  Technically speaking, there’s already a registration requirement for many drones.  So what in actuality are people complaining about?

Yeah, I know.  I know exactly what they’re complaining about.  Fuckin’ fascist government a-holes screwing up their fun and games by insisting on registration and tracking.

Well, guess what, boys and girls.  Sometimes you have to regulate that shit.  You like driving, for instance?  Unless you’re one of those “sovereign citizen” idiots like I saw driving up I-75 down in Georgia last summer (and even if you are), you need a driver’s license.  And insurance.  And a license plate and registration for your car(s).  But almost nobody bitches about that, per se; mostly they bitch about the cost, not the fact that these things are required.  Hell, I bitch about the cost (I just paid the bill for our license plates, eeesh, and ours aren’t really all that expensive compared to other states’ fees).  But it’s sure nice to know the other driver is supposed to have all that, too, especially if you get into an accident with him — it’s an accountability thing.

So let’s think about this for a moment.  Consider flying.  Do you think it’s OK for someone to hop in a plane, taxi it down the runway, and take off for Poughkeepsie or Alberquerque without so much as a by-your-leave (or training or a license)?  I’ll bet you don’t!  I sure as hell don’t.

So what makes flying your fucking drone any different?  Fill the sky up with them, and they’ll be just as dangerous as anything else in the air.  It’s time to accept the fact that you’re engaging in an activity that could get people hurt and property destroyed, come in from the Wild West of drone flying, and get your drone registered so you can fly it legally.

I mean, WTF?  Do you seriously think the FAA is going to come and confiscate your drones?  Dude, get over yourself.  Your drone isn’t a gun, for crying out loud.

(By the way, if you want to comment on the proposed rule, you can do that here until March 2.)