from NBC News
A search and rescue group is suing the Federal Aviation Administration after the government agency ordered the volunteer outfit to stop using drones, and the case could have ramifications for civilian drone operators across the country.
Soaring 400 feet above quarries, fields and open lakes, a fixed-wing Spectra drone equipped with a camera can cover large areas much faster than people on the ground — which is why Texas EquuSearch has included such radio-controlled aircraft in its volunteer search and rescue missions since 2005.
Since then, drones have assisted in locating missing people, helped volunteers on the ground navigate treacherous terrain, and increasingly attracted the unwanted attention of the FAA.
Eugene Robinson, who flies his camera-equipped drone as a Texas EquuSearch volunteer, says the benefits outweigh any risks. He says he follows the FAA’s voluntary guidelines for operating model aircraft, and has never had an accident. “We have proven how effective it is,” he said. “We have been patient for 8 years.”
The endings are not always happy. In 2012, photos taken during a 15-minute flight helped identify the red shirt and remains of a 2-year-old boy, which had been missed by searchers on the ground. In all, a drone used by Texas EquuSearch has helped locate the remains of 11 missing people, bringing closure to their families.
Alan is serial entrepreneur, active angel investor, and a drone enthusiast. He co-founded DRONELIFE.com to address the emerging commercial market for drones and drone technology. Prior to DRONELIFE.com, Alan co-founded Where.com, ThinkingScreen Media, and Nurse.com. Recently, Alan has co-founded Crowditz.com, a leader in Equity Crowdfunding Data, Analytics, and Insights. Alan can be reached at alan(at)dronelife.com