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~ Safety Vests for "Drone" Pilots ~

Drone Vest
The Drone Safety Vest


The main text, below, was written early this year (2016), shortly before FAA registration of most recreational pilots of miniature aircraft became mandatory. Many of us feared that registration was just the beginning of an overall repression of the hobby, and that the long-forbidden commercial use of any sort of "drones" and other miniature aircraft would probably end up restricted to major players with deep pockets.

Drone Vest
The Drone Safety Vest With "LICENSED" Instead of "REGISTERED"

So it was a pleasant surprise this summer when the FAA announced that a new catagory of pilot's license is forthcoming at the end of August, tailored to the commercial use of "drones" by what heretofor would be considered mostly non-commercial hobbyists.

This new license will be issued under the new "Part 107" FAA regulations. There's a written test, a moderate fee, and a few other hoops to jump through, but overall it seems reasonable enough, and getting this license should be pretty much a minor part of setting up even a casual business with your drone(s).

So, as of right now, we are making available, as additional choices for "standard" text on our vests, the words "LICENSED" and "COMMERCIAL." Some of you operating under the FAA Part 333 Exemption have already incorporated these and similar words on our vests.

We remind everyone that aside from the choices offered here, you can specify any wording you like. Generally, custom text does not add to delivery time as all vests are printed when orderd. If the total amount of custom text does not significantly exceed the amount on the standard choises there won't be any extra cost; more extensive text coverage may cost a modest extra fee, typically $10, which we will discuss with you as needed.

We also remind everyone that it is up to you what to have printed on your vest. We do not have any knowledge of our customers' status with the FAA, and as pilots ourselves we encourage safe and legal flight operations.


Here's a simplified explanation of the current FAA registration/licensing rules in the US. For finer detail, visit the FAA's Web sites.

  • If you fly r/c aircraft that weigh less than 8 oz (250 grams) you don't need anything.

  • If you fly aircraft that weigh over 8 oz for recreation only, you are required to register yourself with the FAA.

  • If you fly for any purpose other than recreation you need either a Part 333 Exemption (difficult) or the new easier Part 107 License.

As of Feb. 19, 2016), new federal rules from the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration), requiring the registration of all unmanned aircraft in the US weighing between 250 grams (8.8 ounces) and 55 pounds, are in effect. In addition, there are already other new procedures in effect for permitting certain commercial applications of such aircraft. While these rules arose in response to the popularity of multirotor aircraft , commonly called "drones," they apply equally to traditional "model" airplanes and helicopters that fall into the same weight category. Registration is actually of the pilot, who is issued a single unique number which is required to be affixed to each aircraft. This is at the least a nuisance for most of us, but there may be a bit of a silver lining.

We are all painfully aware that the public at large does not like our multirotors ("drones"), thanks to exaggerated reports in the media about the stupid antics of a tiny percentage of reckless and/or ignorant drone owners, along with the misconception that our aircraft have anything to do with military drones, or are some sort of greater threat to peoples' privacy than the neighbor's cell phone or the "bird watcher" at the beach with a super-zoom point-and-shoot camera.

How bad is it? Pilots have been physically attacked while conducting perfectly legal and polite flight operations, just because their aircraft was a (gasp!) "drone." Many pilots have had lesser but still most unpleasant encounters with bystanders, or even authorities, while flying safely, in full compliance with all laws and common-sense considerations.

Drone Vest
Also Available in Orange Color

Aside from the drone haters, most of us have been approached while flying by folks who are simply curious and interested. And some of us (myself included) have crashed or have had a photo shoot spoiled as a result of such distractions, regardless of what the interloper's intentions were.

Then there are people who may wander into a flight area who are neither friend nor foe nor interested in what we're doing, but who are just minding their own business, perhaps walking the dog, unaware that someone they are approaching is engaged in piloting an aircraft. (Which will run out of juice first, the poodle cavorting in your LZ or your hovering aircraft's batteries? Been there, done that!)

As every R/C pilot knows, watching your own back while flying is pretty much impossible. This vest and its message cannot be missed by anyone approaching, and will certainly give them pause, if not stop them cold. Nobody is likely to just rush right up to you when they see this vest. And if you and a couple of buddies are wearing them, you'll likely not hear an impolite word. Hostile individuals will likely just slink away, while the truly fearful citizen will have their anxiety softened. And if a conversation does follow, hopefully after landing, the message on the vest makes a great starting point from which to educate. (Update, mid-February 2016: We now have enough vests out and about to be getting some reports back , and it looks like their effects are calming, just as expected.)

The word "drone" is of course highly controversial. But the general public does not yet know the meaning of other terms we use instead, such as UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) or UAS (Unmanned Aerial System). Nevertheless, some pilots prefer one of these terms on their vests. So, we offer three basic styles. Style One is uses "DRONE." This is the default style, you don't need to select it from the pull-down menu below. Style 2 replaces "DRONE" on the back and on the front pocket with "UAV." Style 3 does the same, using "UAS." (UPDATE: Now also, "sUAS," small-unmanned-aerial-system, which is becoming popular.) Select any of these using the pull-down menu below. There is no additional cost for the different styles. Contact us if you want something altogether different.

Drone Vest
Three Basic Styles 1, 2 and 3, left to right. Choose Below.

YOUR LOGO OR CUSTOM WORDING: We can also apply your logo (in a single color) for $10 per application. Basic, simple changes or rearrangement of wording is at no cost, while more extensive additional wording is again $10. We will need your logo file (preferably loss-less EPS or TIFF format) by email, and/or clear instructions on what you want. You will get a proof file for approval. To order a custom vest, contact us at the email address below for specific instructions.

Drone Vest Logo Samples
Some Samples of Customer-Supplied Logos, and Some Special Wording

MULTIPLE VESTS: If you wish to purchase multiple vests, especially of different sizes or styles, etc., we will be happy to send you an invoice so you don't need to make multiple individual purchases. Email us.

Note that the message on the vest does not claim that the wearer is any sort of official, nor does it define what "FAA" stands for, or use any sort of official name, seal, or symbol. Whatever assumptions people make are their own.

These are professional-grade vests which meet ANSI II safety standards (not a concern for this use), with nice piping, four front pockets and a quality zipper.



FREE SHIPPING for fast U.S.A. delivery via postal PRIORITY MAIL!
(Customers outside the US must contact us before ordering.)

(Or there will be delays, pulling of hair, shouting, and a huge mess!)

Payment is administered through the highly secure PayPal system.
(No fees, you need not join, use any card, e-check, etc.) We guarantee delivery and stasfaction, but PayPal also provides further protection.

PLEASE NOTE: During checkout, your phone number is requested.
We will never share that with anyone,
we will use it only to contact you if necessary for this single order.

ALSO : Be advised that we may email you from our primary email address, bagpipes@hotpipes.com.
You may see references to our Universe ofBagpipes site.
Don't worry, we haven't mixed up bagpipe drones with the flying sort!

ALSO : "Throwaway" or overly spam-sensitive email services such as hotmail, earthlink, etc.
may toss our mail to you into the trash, especially if it contains attachments (mockups, graphics files, etc.).
If you don't hear from us soon after placing an order or making an inquiry, have a look in the filters.

Questions? Email to: microaerialphoto.com@gmail.com, or bagpipes@hotpipes.com,
or call us at 707.937.1626 (Pacific Time Zone).

Copyright of Text, Photos and Vest Designs 2015-16, MicroAerialPhoto.com