Posted by: Democratic Thinker | April 3, 2015

News: Farmer describes journey to FAA drone licensing


Larry Dreiling reports for the High Plains Journal about a farmer in Idaho using drones to manage his far..


Under the permitted exemption, the commercial UAV can operate 5 nautical miles away from an airport, at altitudes lower than 400 feet, with the UAV within line of sight, for a half-hour of flight time. The exemption also requires that the UAV operator have a private pilot’s license.


High Plains Jorrnal.


Farmer describes journey to FAA drone licensing

Robert Blair

Robert Blair, a Kendrick, Idaho, farmer, has taken his quest for knowledge about technology into becoming one of a handful of U.S. citizens allowed to use Unmanned Aerial Systems, or drones, for commercial purposes. Blair discussed his use of UAS on his farm to an educational session at the 2015 Commodity Classic, held recently at Phoenix. (Journal photo by Larry Dreiling.)

Posted: Monday, March 30, 2015 12:00 am | Updated: 10:53 am, Fri Apr 3, 2015.

Robert Blair has always been a tech junkie.

“My family started this farm in 1903, the same year the Wright Brothers had their first flight. In the life of our farm, we’ve gone from farming with horses to tractors with wheels to tractors that drive themselves. Now we have UAVs or drones,” Blair said.

“Farms are larger, the margins are smaller and the stakes are higher. We’re still after the same things we were after 70 years ago when my grandfather first used a soil testing kit. We’re still looking to improve the soil to get bigger yields. We can do that with technology.”

A fourth-generation farmer from Kendrick, Idaho, Blair manages 1,500 dryland acres of wheat, barley, peas, lentils, chickpeas, alfalfa and cows, and he explained his journey into technology during an educational session at the 2015 Commodity Classic, held recently at Phoenix.

Blair, the immediate past president of the Idaho Grain Producers Association, and a past chairman of the National Association of Wheat Growers Research and Technology Committee, started using precision agriculture techniques in 2003 using a PDA for simple mapping on his farm situated on the edge of the Palouse region.

Blair’s use, vision and advocacy of these technologies helped him become the Precision Ag Institute’s 2009 International Farmer of the Year. Since that time he received an Eisenhower Fellowship in 2011, taking him to South America for six weeks studying these technologies.

During fall 2012, Blair spent three weeks in Germany on a McCloy Fellowship for agriculture. Back home in Idaho, he was recognized as one of the most influential University of Idaho College of Agriculture and Life Science alumni and in 2013 received the Governor’s Award for Agriculture Technology and Innovation.

His quest for knowledge evolved into use of all different types of equipment, including unmanned air systems beginning in 2006. Today, as a partner in Empire Unmanned, he’s one of a handful of U.S. citizens exempted from the federal ban to use UAS for commercial purposes.

As of January, the Federal Aviation Administration permits Empire Unmanned—a consortium of Blair’s Advanced Aviation Solutions, based in Star, Idaho, and Empire Airlines of Hayden, Idaho—to operate an unmanned aerial vehicle, or drone, for agricultural purposes.

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(Read the complete artilcle at original site)

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