Skies belong to the people

March 19, 2014

In Japan, the Yamaha Motor Co. uses drones to spray crops. The 140-pound unmanned flying machines are cheaper than a plane and can go so low that they can apply fertilizers and pesticides more efficiently.

Yamaha has used drones to crop dust for 20 years.

Try that in the United States and the Federal Aviation Administration will shut you down. FAA officials have determined that the government — not the people — owns the skies. The FAA has arbitrarily banned the use of drones for any commercial use.

It’s the you’ll-poke-your-eye-out approach to governance. The idea that one needs the permission of the government to put anything in the air is loony, and yet that is exactly how this agency is acting.

For example, the Washington Nationals used a drone to take publicity shots of its players from angles a human could not get to.

“No, we didn’t get it cleared, but we don’t get our pop flies cleared either and those go higher than this thing did,” a team official told.

From now on, pop flies will need to be cleared because the FAA shut down the drone flights the next day. This is an outrageous overreach.

Yes, there should be a few rules on how the drones fly. People should be careful not to use them near airports and other sensitive areas.

But companies should be able to exploit drones just as they use automobiles and telephones. In fact, wouldn’t it be safer for all parties if a drone delivered a pizza rather than a teen-aged driver on a cold snowy night?

The federal government’s approach to civilian drone flights is akin to “we don’t understand and we’re scared, so you cannot do it.”

Thank goodness the FAA was not around when Wilbur and Orville Wright launched the first controlled, powered and sustained heavier-than-air human flight at Kill Devils Hill near Kitty Hawk, N.C., on Dec. 17, 1903.

America was built on the freedom to take risks and make money. The nation led the world. Now the United States may fall behind in part because of the overreach of a government that thinks it owns the country.

This is regulatory overreach that smacks of full-time bureaucrats looking for things to regulate for no good reason.

— Charleston (W.Va.) Daily Mail