VIDEO: ‘We want these [drone] companies to be very successful’

AOPA President Mark Baker at last weekend’s Northwest Aviation Conference said, “We want these [drone] companies to be very successful,” in response to a question from Washington Pilots Association President Les Smith. Listen to Mark’s comments for yourself in the following video clip.

Personally, I couldn’t agree more. While the concerns many of us have about sharing airspace with “unmanned aerial systems” is real, I believe there is also a tremendous upside. This Ted Talk is but one example of sensor development that in this case, turns a quadcopter into an “athlete.”

A sensor designed to keep drones from bumping into each other, or a stationary physical object, will one day assist full scale aviators from running into each other or towers or mountains. Today we call that technology traffic collision avoidance system (TCAS) and synthetic vision. But both are pricey and installed in a small number of aircraft.

By working with the burgeoning drone industry, rather than against, perhaps we can scale up sensor technology to assist us. After all, it is nice to have a co-pilot looking for traffic with us? Now imagine one that can see a much wider field of view and doesn’t blink…


  1. “Don’t fix what ain’t broken.”
    “Not in my back yard.”

    Hey guys, venom in your blood will kill you. The “drones” are here to stay, so as Ben said, let’s find out how we can benefit.

    Just a thought here — maybe some of the young bright minds behind these autonomously, or remotely piloted technological marvels will get the flying bug and replenish the drying pool of old generation pilots. I prefer to be hopeful, rather than bitter.

  2. It will take a collision with and aircraft and a drone before they realize that the
    aircraft is a hazard to drones…

  3. Vlad Lenin says:

    The nerve of that guy!! AOPA has done more than anyone besides the government in holding back UAS. Now the drones are getting attention, AOPA wants to get on the bandwagon. AOPA is nothing but a bunch of fear mongering, selfish, power hungry, hypocrites…

    // a former AOPA member //

  4. …because maybe they’ll buy enough engines, electronics, and other airplane parts that the GA industry that makes those parts (and your parts) will stay alive a little longer.

  5. Why would I want them to be successful? So I’d need to file a clearance under VFR? So my C-150 would need TCAS? Doesn’t anybody else see this coming?

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