"From out of the clear blue of the Western sky comes Sky King" was the opening to early television's cowboy/aviation program. Operating from his Flying Crown Ranch in Arizona, Sky King and his niece Penny left the horse in the barn and 'saddled up' Songbird, their Cessna 310 airplane for one John Wayne-worthy Western adventure after another.
Don't raise your hand high if you remember watching Sky King. It first aired 65 years ago. At your advanced age, you might hurt yourself. Just a gentle nod from the old rocking chair will do.
With modern television programmers hungry for new ideas, the network creative types are working overtime to reboot old series to fill tens of thousands of hours of something - anything - of broadcast time. Sky King should be ripe for a new look. In the new version, Ol' Sky and niece Penny would probably have to ditch the Cessna for a drone.
Is it legal or will our new generation heroes be skirting the law? "In a move that will likely accelerate the already booming drone market, the FAA’s new small unmanned aircraft rules significantly ease the burden on businesses which want to make basic commercial uses of UAS," said Jamie Nafziger ,a partner at the international law firm Dorsey & Whitney and an expert on unmanned aerial surveillance.
”For instance, if someone wants to fly a drone over their farm for use in precision agriculture, these new rules make doing that much easier. She cautioned that "It will require a waiver unless it can be done in line of sight from the ground or from a moving land vehicle in a sparsely populated area.
Sounds like Amazon's big idea about direct drone-driven package delivery won't fly for a while, though. "It doesn’t look like commercial package delivery outside the line of sight will be permitted at this time – the FAA says in its rules that it will not be granting waivers for this type of commercial use," Nafziger said.
The good news is Niece Penny and the ag community gets a pass, according to Nafziger. "I’ve had clients ask me if they can hire their nieces or nephews to fly drones for their business and have had to tell them no, unless their niece or nephew is a pilot. Now, under the new rules, I can say “yes,” so long as their niece or nephew is at least 16 and gets a remote pilot certificate with a small UAS rating (and follows the new UAS rules, of course)," she said.
One problem, though. Sky King, our original flying cowboy, would be a crotchety old man in his mid-nineties and Penny would be an aging great grandmother just twenty years behind him. In the time honored tradition of the passing years generally meaning nothing in TV programming, a new cast, possibly reuniting Kevin Spacey and Kate Mara from House of Cards as the two protagonists, might draw a sizable binge-watching Netflix audience.
Spacey could sit in air-conditioned comfort at his desk in the ranch house, watching the UAS streaming video on his monitor and barking orders via cell phone. Mara could drive Ol' Betsy, her trusty WW2 era jeep, sweating it out around the blazing hot Arizona ranch while keeping the drone legally in line-of-site as they search for errant cows, sneaky bad guys (spies, bank robbers, drug mules, and other ne'er-do-wells) and dry gulches.
"From out of the clear blue of the Western sky comes a tiny little flying thingy."