Each year, the word aficionados at Merriam-Webster Dictionary spice things up and add new words to our ever-evolving language. Recently, a thousand words were officially added.


Yowza! Yep, that was one of them…only 999 more to go.


Of course, new words are sometimes old words with fresh meanings.


Over the past several years, for instance, the word drone has soared into new uses. It’s not a new word, strictly speaking, but we’re using it so much differently nowadays that it seems almost like a completely new concept…and in some ways, it is.


You can hardly go a day without there being some discussion of drones. From toys to tools, drones are making their way into our daily adventures, and we seem to only be getting started.

Recently my teenage son and I were test pilots for a new toy drone aimed at the 8-year-old-and-up population—yep, we fit right in!


Drone Force by Alpha Group just introduced a new lineup of drone toys for the holidays and we got our hands on a fun one–the Stinger!


We really had our eyes on the Angler, but it’s the one that got away. Angler, you say? Nope, it doesn’t fish for you, but there are people doing that with drones, too. This toy is designed to look like an Angler fish. And it’s so cool in the dark.


With the lights off, the hijinks zoom to even higher heights for the Drone Force critters. My vote? The “eyes” have it—the LED eyes on these drones that is. What a blast!


But, drones aren’t just for fun and games. They’re becoming part of our working world, and the way the world works.


There are scholarly articles being published in peer review journals; there are mine rescues being helped; there are police infrastructures being overhauled; there are ethics classes being taught; and to stop a list that could go on and on, there are new laws being written.


From sophisticated NASA-level uses to starting a small business to downright ridiculously fun backyard barnstorming, professional and consumer level drones promise to be part of our lives for years to come.


Many large companies, for instance, are trying to find ways to implement drones to create better customer experiences all the way around. Curbside grocery gathering has become popular recently. Is drone style delivery right around the corner? Will we return to a yesteryear experience of finding our pints of milk lined up on the stoop? Maybe. Strangely. Ironically.


But, you don’t have to wait for sky drops from Amazon to make a drone deliver for your particular needs here and now.


As the holidays arrive, you’ll have more options than ever to join the flying fray. Looking for a drone to shoot cool 4K video of your romps with the pooch in the park? Done. Looking for a drone to keep the kids entertained upstairs while you conquer your checklist, read your new best-seller, or binge-watch (998 to go) your latest Netflix hit? Finis. Looking for a drone to take hi-res pics of a sunset landscape that longs to live on a canvas that only you can envision? Voila.


From just a few dollars for flimsy fun to hefty sums for prosumer level works of mechanistic art, there’s a price point for you and your family.


But, it’s not all fun and games when it comes to having an unmanned aircraft. Yes, you read that right. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulates certain drones and how you use them.

According to James Vincent, writing for The Verge, these are the main points to consider if you’re becoming the ambitious user of an “unmanned aircraft weighing less than 55 pounds…being flown for ‘routine non-hobbyist use.’”

  • Drones have to remain in visual line of sight of the pilot—no first-person-view cameras.
  • Pilots must be at least 16 years old.
  • Operation is allowed only during daylight hours or twilight with appropriate lighting.
  • Drones must fly at a maximum groundspeed of 100 mph and maximum altitude of 400 feet.
  • Pilots must hold a “remote pilot airman certificate.”


So, just when you thought it was safe to fly the unfettered friendly skies, it seems the man with the sleigh and reindeer is still the only one who doesn’t have to navigate the red tape of the modern world.


Merry Christmas, friends! Happy flying!


Richard Singleton, MACE, MAMFC, LPC, is the executive director at STARRY in Round Rock.

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