I just read washington Posts comments on UAVs and recently the intern ruling by the FAA ( http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/07/19/AR2007071902347.html?nav=rss_technology/techpolicy ) It seems we hobbyist have it somewhat easy, all we need to do is fly below 400 feet, have a spotter, and basically be safe. Yet how strange is it that as soon as we move to the commercial/professional world we need to get a waiver from the FAA? I've seen the applications to get one but how hard are they to come by? I would suspect that even if you or I see a need in our professional careers it would take a small miracle to get the same planes we fly as a hobby approved for professional use.
Additionally most corporations and professional entities would not take too kindly to one of their lower echelon employees go out and try to get a waiver to fill a void he/she sees. I can think of several professional organizations, including law enforcement, first responders, search and rescue, parks and wildlife, conservation, etc that could use this technology to gather real time intelligence of what is happening in their backyards.
So the state sponsored search and rescue team has to try to determine where the lost hiker is by looking for sign and trying to follow it out. If they don't have air support they may be looking for a while and still never find the hiker till it is too late. They can request the state to get them air support, and perhaps the state will relent but then they need to wait for a waiver from the FAA and unfortunately it seems many large organizations like to do things on a large scale. So they tell the search and rescue team to wait for the budget to come through so they can by a $9 million predator or what not.
So I wonder with these obstacles how can we as a hobbyist community move this technology forward to where it contributes to the greater good when we are stymied as soon as we try to cross over to the professional world?