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Sky's just about the limit for Nevada drones

Join us on Tuesday, Nov. 1 at 5 p.m. as Nevada drones make history. (Photo Credit: Microdrones via MGNonline)

When Nevada became a drone test site in December 2013, industry experts didn't expect it to take too long for the technology to take off.

Federal Aviation Administration regulations, however, have limited potential growth in the Silver State.

For years, University of Nevada, Reno NAASIC Business Director Warren Rapp has been limited to flying drones either indoors, under nets or outside of the country.

"There were a lot of research projects that people wanted to involve UAVs in the last couple of years that we couldn't do because of FAA restrictions," says Rapp.

Drone operators had to go through flight school, become pilots and register drones as aircrafts before submitting an application to fly.

"Even by the time you were done with those days spent putting that paperwork together, you were normally told no," says Rapp. "Or you had to wait, or you had to wait for six months to be told no."

Now, as of Nov. 1, the rules have eased.

If you fly near an airport, you still have to get air traffic approval for the commercial use of a drone, but you only need to pass an air space knowledge test.

You no longer have to become a pilot.

Brian Kulpa, of Brian Kulpa Photography, was hired by the Barracuda Championship to film the Montreux Golf Course ahead of the 2016 tournament.

Back then, he had to give the FAA a report days in advance of exactly what he was filming and where he was flying.

"These new regulations for commercial operators have been significantly improved," says Kulpa.

Operators still must avoid flying over large crowds of people, homes and operating drones out of the line of sight.

NASA and NAASIC officials are, however, working together to prepare for when the latter restriction is eased as well.

The two agencies, with special FAA permission, are test flying drones out of sight at the Stead Airport.

"People want to be able to do this on demand," says NASA Research Aerospace Engineer Joseph Rios. "We need to, before hand, prove that the system is safe and that you know how to operate in the airspace and you can dynamically plan these out of sight operations."

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