51 Interesting and Fun Facts About Drones

Drones come in all shapes and sizes. The military uses them for attack purposes, surveillance, and defensive strategy. Non-military uses are extensive. Commercial drone applications continue to expand in almost every industry sector. Many hobbyists enjoy flying smaller drones. The technology continues to improve as the price of drones goes down.

Here are some examples of drone uses, what to do with a drone, along with many exciting or unusual facts about drones, including some false assumptions made about them:

1. America Made the First Military Drones: Incorrect. The first country in the world to make drones for military use was Israel.

2. Drones Have Many Names: Correct. The U.S. military likes acronyms that are the first initials of descriptive terms, so they call this drone technology an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV). Commercial industry leaders like to call them remotely piloted aircraft systems (RPAS) because some are piloted from a remote location. The rest of us call them drones for the droning sound that they make when they fly.

3. Terrorists were the First Drone Targets: Correct. Before the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center in New York, the U.S. military created a drone for use in combat. After 9/11, the first drone named the “Predator” was ready for active deployment. Its mission was to target terrorists.

MQ-1 Predator, armed with AGM-114 Hellfire missiles

4. The first Drone Killing was Osama Bin Laden: Incorrect. It is true that the first target of the Predator UAV was Osama Bin Laden. However, the U.S. military could not locate him at that time. Instead, the first killing by a UAV was Muhammed Atel. He was a commander of Al-Qaeda.

Bin Laden was killed many years later by gunfire at close range from U.S. Navy Seals who stormed his compound. Drones were used to spy on the Bin Laden compound before the Seals attacked

5. American Military Drones Kill Many People: Correct. The American UAV program started under President George Bush Jr. and then expanded under President Obama. It continues to this day. Estimates are that about 5,000 people have been killed by military drones so far.

Many of those killed by American drones, such as innocent children, have been “collateral damage.” This means they were killed by accident, for no good reason, and just because they happened to be near the target of a UAV attack.

6. All Drones are Weapons: Incorrect. Many know about drones because of their military use to attack enemies with gunfire and smart-guided bombs. However, there are plenty of non-weaponized use of drones that are conducted by the military and civilians.

7. Only the Military and Police Use Drones: Incorrect. Drones are used in almost all industry sectors for many non-military or police needs. There are many non-governmental organizations, companies, and civilians who use drones for lots of good purposes, including very avid groups of hobbyists worldwide.

8. Drones Fight Crime: Correct. Similar to military reconnaissance flights, drones help law enforcement in America. As of yet, drones are not allowed to engage in combat attacks in America. This may change in the future.

9. American Police Need Warrants for Low-Flying Drones: Sometimes. For some purposes, the police may need to have a warrant to fly drones. However, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the rights of police to use low-flying drones anywhere that is outside, and not restricted airspace, to fight crime.

10. Police Cannot Use Drone Images: Incorrect. Police are allowed to use photos and video taken by drones as evidence unless the area is restricted. If the police can normally use any evidence collected at a crime scene, then drone evidence from that same scene is permitted as well.

11. Drones Aid Humans with Communication: Correct. There are many non-military and non-violent uses of drones. They can provide communication connections in areas that are remote or those experiencing a natural disaster.

12. Drones are Good for Emergency Services: Correct. Drones can fly anywhere if the weather is good enough. They need very little space to land. They can deliver food and medicine to areas suffering from a natural disaster, to refugee camps in remote areas or those in war zones.

13. Drones are Useful in Farming: Correct. There are many applications for drones that help farmers. They are excellent tools used to survey crops for damage, drought, and pest infestation. They can provide critical information, such as the frost levels, about the micro-climates in the fields.

14. Drones Improve Live Events, News, and Sports Coverage: Correct. The point of view from a drone flying over a concert, sports event are newsworthy area is impressive. This creates some dynamic shots from angles that would not otherwise be possible. A live-event producer, who is broadcasting an event, can send out drones as needed to capture shots that make the broadcast more interesting.

15. Drones Bring Safety for Working at Heights: Correct. Drones are used to put up decorations for special events. Decorative items can be carried up into the air and then released to be put in place. Examples of this safety improvement are using drones for the placement of holiday-season lights on trees and washing those hard-to-reach windows.

16. Flying a Drone is Easy: Incorrect. Mastering the skills required to fly drones takes practice. Operators who are flying a drone manually need to get used to the control’s sensitivity. For operating a drone by computer control, an operator needs to have basic computer-programming skills.

17. Model Airplanes are not Drones: Correct. The big difference between a model airplane and a drone is that a model airplane cannot fly without a pilot controlling it who can see it. Drones can be controlled by a human pilot who does not need to see it. Some drones can fly without human control.

18. All Drones Have Short Flying Times: Incorrect. It is true that tiny, lightweight hobby drones only fly for up to ten minutes. However, larger drones can operate for up to a half hour. Robust military drones can fly for many hours, and some can fly very long distances.

19. Drones are Unreliable: Incorrect. The reliability of a drone depends on how it is made. Naturally, inexpensive hobby drones that are lightweight are not as durable as more expensive, robust models. No one should expect to fly a hobby drone into a hurricane and not have it break into a zillion pieces. However, there are drones made strong enough to fly over active volcanoes.

20. Drones are Surveillance Cameras: Not exactly. It is possible to use a drone to carry a camera; however, there are significant differences between the images captured by a drone and those recorded by surveillance cameras. Surveillance cameras are usually mounted in place. Even if they can rotate and zoom in, there are physical area limits to what they can record.

Drones are more flexible. They can fly about recording over vast areas and even follow someone while recording them.

21. Americans Own the Most Drones: Correct. Estimates from retailers serving customers in the USA say that Americans bought more than 400,000 drones since they first became available.

22. American Drones Must be registered with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA): Correct. Of the estimated 400,000 drones sold in the USA, less than half have been registered with the FAA. Not registering a drone with the FAA is a bad idea. If caught using an unregistered drone, this can cause a fine of up to $27,500 for the owner of the drone.

23. Drones Find Fires: Correct. Drones can be programmed to fly around danger zones and use thermal imaging to find hotspots that indicate a fire.

24. Drones May Interfere with Aircraft: Correct. While drones can be useful, unregulated use of drones may be dangerous. It is illegal to fly drones into restricted airspace, such as the areas surrounding a landing strip at a military airbase or a runway at a commercial airport.

Recently, drones helped find new breakouts of wildfires in California. However, they had to be grounded before emergency response aircraft and helicopter could fly in because a drone might cause an accident.

25. Drones Deliver Pizza: Correct. A drone can deliver a pizza. This was demonstrated by a test done in 2013 for Dominos. Now, pizza-delivery by drone is becoming more available. Amazon, DHL, and others also have drone-delivery programs underway.

26. Paparazzi Use Drones: Correct. Professional paparazzi make an average of $150,000 per year by getting photographs of celebrities. A single photo, which is unique, such as one of a new baby of a celebrity, a nude shot, or something showing the celebrity in a compromised moment, can be very valuable. Besides using a long zoom on a camera, a drone is a standard tool now used by paparazzi to spy on celebrities.

27. Drone Use in Real Estate is Expanding: Correct. Using drones to photograph real estate is becoming very popular. Taking shots of home for sale, which come from using a fly around done by a drone, is an excellent way to make money using a drone.

28. Drones are Used for Aerial Mapping: Correct. Aerial mapping is another popular way to use drones and a way to make money using them.

29. Drones are Good for Heavy Lifting: Correct. There are some super strong drones, which have been developed in China, that can lift the weight of full shipping containers. These crane-drones take a shipping container off a ship and fly it to the proper place on the dock to store it for further transport.

30. Drones Can Fly Humans: Correct. A German company has invented the Volocopter. This is a large-scale drone that is a personal flying vehicle with 12 rotors. It is powered by electricity. It flies under the control of a pilot and can be piloted remotely.

Volocopter,IAA 2017, Frankfurt (1Y7A1911)

31. Drones Fly on Solar Power: Correct. Drones can fly on the electricity from solar power. A company called Soltero Technologies makes lightweight solar panels that can be installed on a UAV to continually re-charge the batteries and provide the power needed to keep the UAV in flight for long periods.

32. Drones Track Whales: Correct. A company called Insitu Integrator uses drones to follow the migration of whales off the coast of Australia.

33. Drones Monitor Oil Pipelines: Correct. British Petroleum (BP) was the first company to get FAA permission to use drones to monitor its oil pipeline in Alaska.

34. Filmmakers Use Drones: Correct. Major filmmakers, such as Steven Spielberg, use drones to get shots that are otherwise impossible to get. Some advanced drones can send a video transmission by WiFi or through a cell phone system. These drones are sometimes sacrificed to get fantastic footage before they crash.

35. Drones Follow Animals at Night: Correct. Certain drones follow tracking devices. These are useful for wildlife research. They can use thermal imaging and infrared cameras to support animals at night.

36. Drones Like Jogging and Extreme Sports: Correct. For those that do not like running alone, there is the Airdog drone that will follow any person who wears a tracking device. The Airdog drone also works to help film extreme sports activities by following a tracking device worn by the user.

37. Drones Inspect Infrastructure: Correct. An efficient way to inspect highway infrastructure for safety issues, to plan repairs and maintenance, is to use drones. Drones are better than using human inspectors for the over four million miles of American highways and all the bridges that need inspection.

38. Drones Find Gas Leaks: Correct. Drones carrying chemical sensors can safety fly into dangerous areas to determine if there is a gas leak.

39. Drones Drop a Cold Beer by Parachute: Correct. A South African company is testing a system at music festivals that uses a drone to fly to a GPS location and then drop a cold beer by parachute. The beer is delivered to the person who ordered it by using a mobile app on their smartphone.

40. Weather Monitoring is Safer Using Drones: Correct. Scientists who study tornados find it much safer to use drones. Drones can get closer to the storm and send back data that helps scientist understand storms better without getting into danger.

41. Drones Respond Faster to 9-1-1 Emergency Calls: Correct. A drone flying in needed emergency first aid can get to a person much faster by flying directly by line-of-sight to home, instead of having to use the streets like an ambulance.

42. Drones Deliver Medicine to Remote Areas: Correct. Life-saving medicines are being delivered by drones to remote jungle areas in Africa and South America. These are places that take weeks to arrive by jeep or hiking and where there are no large enough, open spaces to land a small airplane. A drone equipped with GPS can fly right in based on GPS location information and then come down through a tiny open area in the tree canopy.

43. Prospecting is Done by Drones: Correct. Companies looking for mineral deposits are using drones along with advanced 3D mapping systems to find suitable locations for exploration.

44. An Ancient Lost City was Found by Drones: Correct. Vice reported that by using drones along with unique earth-scanning laser technology, a vast ancient city dating back to the Mayan times was found in Guatemala. This ancient metropolis may have supported up to 15 million people.

Lost City Found By Drone

3D view of Tikal from southeast. Image: PACUNAM/Canuto & Auld-Thomas

45. Drone Air Shows are Popular: Correct. There are many great videos of drone air shows on YouTube, such as one by Intel that shows a thousand of them in synchronized flight. These drone performances of brilliant light shows are becoming popular.

46. Companies Offer Drone Tours: Correct. Tourist companies are offering drone tours of interesting places where actual walking tourism is not permitted, such as flying over ancient sites that are prohibited to visit in person, which are restricted areas protected by the government.

47. Hunting Improves Using Drones: Correct. Drones that fly quietly can scout for animals without making them run away.

48. Drones Have Been Used at Weddings: Correct. One creative guy used a drone to bring the ring when he proposed and then once again to bring the ring to the bride at the wedding. Drones are also used for wedding photography to take photos and make videos from interesting angles.

49. Peeping Tom Drones are Watching: Correct. Even though this type of activity is illegal in most places, drones are used by perverted types to spy on people during their most intimate moments. A buzz heard outside a bedroom window may be a tiny drone and not an insect, so be aware that you may be watched!

50. Pizza delivered to the President by a Drone: Incorrect. The President of the United States did not request a drone to deliver pizza to the white house. Although this is not true, it would have been fascinating to see this happen on national television. Although we don't see this happening anytime soon, for many obvious reasons.

51. There are Many Creative New Uses for Drones: Correct. There are thousands, maybe millions, of new applications for drones that are yet to be explored.


Hopefully, learning these facts about drones increased the level of curiosity about them. Everyone can have fun with hobby drones that are now available for under $100. Many businesses benefit from to the use of drones for surveillance, security, exploration, photography, delivery of goods, and more. Drone use in industry is transformational.

Military units continue to use UAVs for dangerous reconnaissance flights and over combat zones for precision attacks on the enemy. Drones are both getting larger to carry heavier payloads and smaller to be more useful.

Drones will continue to improve and be used in many new ways.


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