Loud buzzing sounds have been heard over Terrace lately, but it’s nothing to worry about—it’s just Terry Heinricks’ drone.
Heinricks recently purchased a Phantom Drone to get a new perspective on the city and take some photographs from new vantage points.
Terry and his wife Shannon have been having some fun with the $1,300 purchase that they made online and Shannon said that this technology is definitely an investment.
“It’s more than just a toy,” she said, “it can be used for some incredible things.”
Terry explained that drones, or Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, are easy to fly and the on-board 14 megapixel camera sends a live feed via Wi-Fi to either a smart phone or tablet can be used in a variety of useful ways.
“Search and rescue teams could use them to check things out if it is unsafe for them to enter,” she said.
Drones could change the way people work and not only in the military but for commercial businesses as well.
For instance, Langara College’s journalism school in Vancouver has been using UAVs since January. Instructor Ethan Baron has been teaching students how to use drones for news gathering. These devices could be especially useful when reporting on wars or in other unsafe conditions.
“Media outlets around the world have just begun using drones to gather news, and these aircrafts will play a crucial role in news coverage in the future,” Baron explained on the school’s website.
Terry explained that his drone has been attracting some attention from spectators around Terrace, but people are more curious than upset.
However, drones can cause quite the distraction. The couple was flying the drone over the old steel bridge while watching the live feed on their iPad when they noticed a man driving a convertible who was focused more on the aircraft than on the road.
“It has about 25 minutes of flying time,” Terry said as he was snapping photographs of the cityscape from the old Co-op parking lot.
Terry said he uses it around his workplace as well. He recently had his roof redone and he would occasionally send the drone up to check on the progress.
Although this technology has many valuable and sometimes life changing uses, the debates about drones are still heated. As UAVs become more accessible to the general public, concerns are raised about how the devices are going to be used.
In New York City, it is illegal to fly drones without permission. Police there are concerned that the devices may be used for nefarious acts. Two weeks ago, one UAV pilot was fined $2,200 for flying too close buildings and later crashing near a pedestrian in Manhattan.
Earlier this month in Vancouver, RCMP and Transport Canada were investigating a close encounter between an aircraft and a drone.
The technology is still in its infancy, but currently UAVs are regulated under two licensing streams—Transport Canada for civil regulation and the Department of National Defence for military regulation.
Transport Canada requires an application before every UAV flight that defines flight plans and safety precautions. Users are also to abide by specific rules regarding flying in urban areas. UAVs are not to be operated within noise restricted areas such as churches or hospitals and they are to be flown far away from property and people.
However, if the drone is under 35kg, like Terry Heinricks’, than it is considered a model aircraft meaning no special permission is required. Transport Canada’s media representative said so long as the device is being used for pleasure or relaxation it is ok, but the second that it is used for any non-recreational uses than it is considered a UAV and requires a certificate.