There isn’t anything unmanned about most Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV). There is a real, live human being attached (wirelessly) to that airborne craft.
That’s why General Aviation News will from now on refer to them as Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA). And we’re not the only ones weighing in on this discussion.
Like flavors of ice cream, there a numerous avenues of aviation that inspire people in different ways. To many, open cockpit, rag-wing taildragger is the only way to go. For others, the practicality and efficiency of zooming through the sky at 500 mph is how the blood gets pumping. While others visualize the invisible columns of atmosphere that is the lifeblood of soaring. Different strokes for different folks.
Who among us can say my way is best?
To be certain, RPAs suffer from a poor public perception. But I find it ironic when I hear “skin-in-the-game, real pilots” criticize RPAs in the way non-pilots criticize full-scale aviation.
Many pilots, in response to broad-brush criticism will circle the wagons and defend aviation. Chief among our defensives is, “You don’t understand what aviation is.” Well, do those “real airplane” pilots criticizing RPA truly understand what it is? I wonder.
As I’ve said before, I’m excited about what RPAs will bring to full-scale aviation. The sensor development that makes flying a flock of RPAs in an enclosed room without a collision will translate up to human-occupied aviation and make our world a safer place. Of that, I have no doubt.
I could go on, but won’t. And I’m certain my words and promotion of an acronym has done little sway those who vehemently oppose RPAs, but that’s OK. Just know that if it goes airborne, it is part of the aviation family you love.
And as the rules and regulations get written, and re-written, I think it best we all subscribe to the “Golden Rule.” Safe aviating everyone, regardless of where you sit.