Unmanned Flying Things!

The University of Alaska Fairbanks’ unmanned aircraft system test site (to count Alaskan animal populations) has been approved  http://www.faa.gov/news/press_releases/news_story.cfm?newsId=16194.

The certification process was first mentioned to me at my flight school a few weeks ago. One of the PPL students is a UAV operator (Side notes: He tells me that the term ‘drone’ is derogatory to UAV pilots. UAV pilots also log ‘flight’ hours as regular aircraft pilots do – interesting.). As part of the FAA certification process for this unmanned aerial vehicle site, the FAA administrator actually did an in-person visit to Fairbanks. Even though his visit wouldn’t have impacted my training, I’m glad I wasn’t flying lessons during his visit. I don’t like the potential for judgement 😉

Fairbanks. Everything outside this map can be considered wilderness. Large Animal Research Station is at the red inverted teardrop. North is up.
Fairbanks. Everything outside this map can be considered wilderness. Large Animal Research Station is at the red inverted teardrop. North is up.

I’m still unclear how the operations of unmanned vehicles will affect my flying – logically, not at all right? Flight operations are supposed to be out of the Large Animal Research Station which is north of campus, way on the outskirts of town (note PAFA is at the southern edge of Fairbanks). I assume there won’t be any flights over the city because there are usually no wildlife to count there (except hungry moose and an occasional bear)…but ‘civilization’ is easy to leave when flying out of PAFA…and searching for animals can be done anywhere in the local ‘outskirts of town’ areas….

Moose I felt way too close to on my first day in Fairbanks. This guy just wandered across the courthouse parking lot.
Two moose I felt way too close to on my first day in Fairbanks. These guys just wandered across the courthouse parking lot and started eating.

I don’t want to hit anything…. Will UAVs show up on the local radar? Will I get traffic alerts from tower? I’ve seen the UAVs and while not tiny, they’re not that big. I still have difficulties spotting other Cessnas. How on earth will I spot at UAV?

To me, unmanned vehicles are undoubtedly going to be very prevalent everywhere someday soon because of their potentially lower costs and ability to send surveillance into areas where sending humans would be massively expensive/impractical/dangerous. We’re going to have to learn to deal with them, but at the current stage, I don’t think there is enough education for the general public about what is going on/how they may impact our daily activities (however minimally), and there does really needs to be.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s