You can call’em drones but I prefer to call’em what they really are: radio controlled model aircraft. Drones such as DJI’s Phantom 2 quadcopter are available right now to fly while shooting video and still images. But wait you say, the FAA specifically banned the use of UAV’s (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle, to give these craft yet another name) for commercial purposes, even for something as mundane as real estate photography. Yet, an NTSB Administrative Law Judge dismissed all charges against someone charged for doing just that stating there was “no enforceable FAA rule” that applied to a model aircraft.
So which government agency do you listen to? Congress has directed the FAA to develop rules for the commercial use of small (under 55 pounds) drones by September 2015. Amazon’s Jeff Bezos told Sixty Minutes he was planning package delivery by drone.” So start flying your drone now and snapping still photographs videos—non-commercially, to be absolutely safe—and see what the fun is all about.
On June 15, 2015, my inexpensive ($52.99 ) Syma X5C quadcopter—Sopwith Camel—made its first flight…and crash. Even though the pilot was an experienced helicopter and airline pilot, Cliff Lawson, the wind was so strong that the end result was not unexpected.
Update: After a second flight of the Syma, one of its motors started working intermittently making any kind of stable flight problematical. So Sopwith Camel II is on order to replace it: The new quadcopter will be UDI’s U818A-1 Discovery Quadcopter, that has a higher resolution camera capable of 720p HD video. Look for it’s maiden flight soon.