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Want a drone license? Take hot air balloon lessons

Want a drone license? Take hot air balloon lessons
PHOTO COURTESY OF SHUTTERSTOCK

You've no doubt noticed that everyone and their brother seems to be flying a drone. That's scary, and not just because your neighbors could be using drones with cameras to spy on you.

With so many drones flying around, (700,000 will be sold this year), they seem to be everywhere. Scarier, many of these unmanned vehicles flying overhead weigh several hundred pounds.

Flying drones is confusing, too, because the FAA has almost no rules to regulate who can fly drones, where they can fly them, or what they can do with them. But, as people flying drones professionally are finding out, they do need a license to fly them.

Which would be good, especially when you think about inexperienced pilots crashing heavy drones over your house. The problem is, the FAA right now doesn't have drone-specific driver's licenses. Which is where hot air balloons come in.

Yep, hot air balloons. To get professional droning licenses, you need a license to fly. A license to fly something like a plane, or a glider.

It makes no sense since flying a plane and standing on the ground remotely flying a drone don't require many of the same skills. But, until the FAA comes up with drone pilot rules, that'll have to do.

Getting a pilot's license to fly can take months, and cost $10,000 or more. Except, not when it's to fly a hot air balloon, which also requires a pilot's license. That costs a lot less, like $5,000 over just a few weekends.

So, sure, riding around in a big basket attached to a balloon bears no resemblance to remote-controlling a drone. But it's good enough to pilot a drone, for now.

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