A drone test range in northeastern Oregon launched its first flight Tuesday.

Where Can Drones Fly? Legal Limits Are Up In the Air

Aug 10, 2014

It's getting easier for the average civilian to own drones.

The word may bring to mind million-dollar jets that carry bombs, but a drone is any aircraft that doesn't have passengers or a pilot onboard. Some look like sophisticated remote-control helicopters and model airplanes.

They're available online and in stores, some for less than $100. But whether and where owners are allowed to fly those drones falls in a legal gray area.

How Drones Could Make Forest Restoration Easier

Aug 1, 2014

NACHES, Wash. -- Drones could soon be the newest gadgets in forest conservation.

A group of college students in Washington recently built and tested a drone that will survey the health of the forest. The hope is that drones will speed up restoration efforts and save some money.

“You guys ready for the test flight?” asked Ryan Haugo, a forest ecologist with The Nature Conservancy.

“Yeah, I think so,” said Rheno Prajadipta.

Chelan HD Productions/Sy Stepanov

As the Carlton Complex fire roared across central Washington state, Chelan videographer Sy Stepanov tagged along with a friend who owns a real estate firm to assess the damage.

Stepanov brought his drone to record video of the destruction. “When I got there, it was just a no-brainer," he said. "People need to see this.”


The Federal Aviation Administration ruled this week that Amazon and others cannot use drones to deliver packages — grounding a dream by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos to streamline delivery times. The FAA says the commercial use of drones will remain illegal until further notice.

Flickr Photo/Nick Bonzey (CC-BY-NC-ND)

Marcie Sillman talks to University of Washington law professor Ryan Calo about the Federal Aviation Administration's decision to allow BP to use drones in Alaska.

How Drones Quietly Mapped Oso Landslide Area

May 5, 2014
Tamara Palmer

As Washington Gov. Jay Inslee vetoed a bill in April that would have regulated drone use statewide, a consortium of disaster recovery specialists quietly negotiated the use of drones to make a 3-D model of the Oso mudslide.

Inslee vetoed the Legislature's bill on April 4 citing privacy and transparency concerns that he said were not adequately addressed, but he said he would still let drones fly in emergencies.

Federal Aviation Administration

Low population density and testing over water.

Those may be the reasons why the Federal Aviation Administration skipped over Washington state when selecting proposals for drone testing sites.

Noam Chomsky and Andre Vltchek's book "On Western Terrorism."

Ross Reynolds interview author Noam Chomsky about his latest book co-written with Andre Vltchek called "On Western Terrorism: From Hiroshima to Drone Attacks."

A search effort for a missing hiker at Craters of the Moon National Monument in Idaho is turning to drone technology for help.

Civilian use of aerial drones is still greatly restricted, but the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has won permission to test a small unmanned aircraft off the Olympic Coast of Washington. 

A two-week trial run by the federal science agency is now underway.

The NOAA drone looks like an oversized remote-control model airplane. It has a 9-foot wingspan and can fly for about two hours on battery power.

Your Take On The News

May 24, 2013

We'll get live updates from the scene of the bridge collapse in Skagit County from KUOW reporter Derek Wang.

In a major policy speech Thursday, President Obama defended his administration's use of unmanned drones, but vowed to scale back their use in the future. He also renewed efforts to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay. What are the unanswered questions about President Obama's counter-terrorism policy? What can we expect from the President moving forward?

The Seattle Mayor's race got a big shakeup recently when Tim Burgess abruptly dropped out of the contest. How will this affect the rest of the candidates? Who does it help and who does it hurt?

And on his first day on the job, interim Seattle Police Chief Jim Pugel made some changes to his staff. Does this signal more changes to come at the SPD?

What stories that caught your attention this week? Call us at 800.289.5869, email weekday@kuow.org or send us a tweet @WeekdayKUOW.

The Gardening Panel Returns!

Feb 11, 2013
Flickr photo/Jim Capaldi

Daffodils are pushing through the soil, though temperatures are still soggy and cold.  Time to start getting those winter gardens ready for spring.  Our gardening panel returns (on a new day – Monday!) to answer your questions. Call us at 206.543.5869 or toll free 800.289.5869. You can also email weekday@kuow.org.

SPD Drone
KUOW photo/Amy Radil

Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn put an end to a controversial  program where unmanned miniature helicopters equipped with cameras would be used to fight crime. Critics had privacy concerns about police surveillance. The timing of Mayor McGinn's decision could become an issue in his re-election bid.

Cigarette tobacco smoke
Flickr photo/Ta Duc (Cc-BY-NC-ND)

A recent study from the Centers For Disease Control has found that nearly one-third of mentally ill adults are smokers. In fact, they’re 70 percent more likely to smoke than adults without mental illness. The relationship between cigarettes and mental hospitals is a complicated one. Historically, smoking was common in mental hospitals. It was even used as an incentive for patients at times. Now, more and more treatment facilities are becoming smoke-free. What does this mean for patients who rely on the habit for comfort? Pam Belluck has been writing about these issues. She covers health and science for The New York Times.