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International Drone Day – May 4, 2024

International Drone Day is celebrated on the first Saturday of May every year. This year, it falls on May 4. This holiday raises awareness of drones and their various applications in the civilian sector, from search and rescue operations to package delivery and dropping off medical supplies. Two British drone operators, Sarah and David John O’Neal came up with the idea for this holiday in 2014. Their goal is to highlight the positive and helpful aspects of drones. This combats the skepticism and paranoia that many people around the world have about them. Thousands have celebrated this holiday every year since then.

History of International Drone Day

The earliest models of drones date back to the 1800s, in the form of balloons and aerial torpedoes. They were used by militaries for airstrikes, surveillance, and target practice. World War I marked the invention of the first unmanned aerial vehicle — a pilotless torpedo built by the Dayton-Wright Airplane Company. In World War II drones were used by both sides to train air fighters and offer support on combat missions. By the 1970s, countries like Israel used drones on military operations such as the Yom Kippur War. The 1990s saw the rise of U.S. military spending on drone development, resulting in much sleeker and more advanced models like the ‘MQ-1 Predator’ drones, and its successor the ‘MQ-9 Reaper.’

It wasn’t until around 2006 that the world saw the use of drones for non-military applications. They are now in charge of inspecting pipelines, evaluating crops, and assisting with disaster relief activities. They are also in charge of border security and surveillance. Drones had gained appeal among government agencies and enterprises by 2013, but it wasn’t until 2016 that the United States government allowed commercial drone operations. Since then, the F.A.A. has awarded thousands of drone permits each year.

The farming sector witnessed an increase in the use of drones for the inspection and management of crop fields. Drones were also used industrially, such as in the inspection of oil pipelines, marine vessels, and power generation installations like nuclear plants. In 2021, U.S. aviation regulators approved the first fully automated commercial drone flights. All companies meeting these approvals can operate drones without having operators on-site controlling or monitoring them.

International Drone Day timeline

First Civilian Drone

Reginald Denny — a model airplane hobbyist — becomes the first civilian to develop an unmanned piloted vehicle.

F.A.A. Prohibits the Commercial Use of Drones

In a policy statement, the F.A.A. prohibits the commercial use of drones.

Amazon Begins Using Drones for Deliveries

Amazon declares the intention to deliver packages using drones.

First Drone Test Site in the U.S.

The F.A.A.’s first operational drone test site is opened in North Dakota.

First Legal Delivery of Medical Supplies

The first legal delivery of medical supplies takes place within the U.S.

International Drone Day FAQs

Are drones hard to operate?

The type of drone and its applications determine this. Flying a drone in an open field is much easier than using one to shoot a wedding or track wild animals. The operator’s skill and time spent practicing also count.

Do you need a drone license?

This depends on your jurisdiction and the type of drone you’re operating. Some areas have no distinction between commercial drones and hobbyists. Others have laws dictating who can own or operate drones, and which types of drones they can use.

Are drone pilots in demand?

The use of drones continues to grow for commercial, environmental, medical, and military applications. It’s no longer a recreational activity but a job. The demand for professional drone pilots is set to increase by more than 50% in the next five years.

International Drone Day Activities

  1. Buy yourself a drone

    There’s no better way to celebrate International Drone Day than with hands-on experience. Well-made drones aren’t cheap, but the good news is there are plenty of affordable options on the toy drone market that you can choose from.

  2. Join a drone flying club

    Drone enthusiasts often have clubs, and on International Drone Day members meet up to celebrate. Activities include flying drones and teaching others how to operate them. They may also have events like races and skill competitions.

  3. Teach others about drones

    Many people have prejudices against drones because of negative news reports and fears over their privacy. Drones are also used to do good, like flying on search and rescue operations or delivering medical supplies to remote areas. International Drone Day is a good time to teach others about the positive side of drones.

5 Awesome Facts About Drones

  1. Drones make farming cheaper

    It’s estimated that the use of drones could amount to $200 million in annual crop savings by 2035.

  2. The U.S. has almost one million drones

    According to the F.A.A., in 2021, the U.S. had 900,000 registered drones, including around 500,000 drones registered for recreational use.

  3. Drones can help save the environment

    Drones are powered by electricity, making them a more eco-friendly alternative for large-scale industrial use because they don’t pollute the environment with toxic emissions.

  4. Autonomous drones will revolutionize industries

    In the future, autonomous drones will operate in very specific and complex environments, from agriculture and manufacturing to surveillance and mining.

  5. Drone shipments are set to increase

    By 2023, it’s expected that drone shipments of retail items will hit 122 million.

Why We Love International Drone Day

  1. Looks to the future

    Most holidays celebrate events that happened in the past. We are yet to discover the full potential of drones and this holiday gives us a glimpse into possible applications in the future.

  2. Excuse to geek out

    International Drone Day touches on science and technology. On this special holiday, we get to tap into our geeky side and appreciate the wonders of modern engineering.

  3. Brings more people to the drone community

    Every time we celebrate International Drone Day we raise awareness about drones and their many uses in the present day. Generating interest and bringing more people into the drone community is what it's all about.

International Drone Day dates

2022May 7Saturday
2023May 6Saturday
2024May 4Saturday
2025May 3Saturday
2026May 2Saturday

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