Eyes in the sky: Small drones have FAA shaping regulations

Like something out of a science-fiction flick, the four-rotor apparatus looks the part of an oversize, mechanical dragonfly.

A distinct hum similar to the insect exudes from the gadget when it hovers at eye level. The buzz fades to silence in seconds when the device darts skyward and nearly out of sight.

A small camera captures all that lies within its line of vision – in this instance, a mix of cobblestone, historic homes and church steeples that comprise Charleston’s French Quarter.

No, this contraption isn’t being maneuvered by engineers on some military testing site. It isn’t soaring beside airplanes at a local airport. It’s under the control of a 27-year-old College of Charleston student killing time on a sunny afternoon.

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