An Introduction to the History of Drones

By | Jun 29, 2018

Drones have seen a rapid increase in popularity over the last few years. In decades previous, they were heavily associated with military usage, and were deemed far too expensive and dangerous for the average person to acquire, let alone pilot. Recently however, the drone market has been revolutionised; it’s now possible to purchase a high quality drone for under £1,000. Coming equipped with the latest high definition cameras, they provide a fantastic resource for photographers, filmmakers, architects, and numerous other industries; there’s even a specialised drone racing circuit for hardcore pilots.


But how did it all start? The British Armed Forces were the first ones to utilise the taking of aerial photographs in 1916, with a primitive form of the technology (albeit one where the drone was actually a manned plane); in the subsequent couple of years, these early drones saw use in World War I. A couple of decades later, the Americans were the first to develop remote-controlled planes, piloted by other aircraft which flew nearby. This development bled into the burgeoning conflict of World War II, which marked the very first time a large number of UAVs were produced to order.

These early drones were developed continuously in the post-war years, with many countries such as Israel and Russia getting in on the action. But it wasn’t until the 90’s/early 2000’s that drones were instilled full time into the armed forces, with America making that leap in 1991 with mandatory drone flight usage during the Gulf War. Then, ten years later, America found itself under attack from Middle Eastern terrorists and decided to counterstrike. This marked the introduction of drones into the public consciousness, though the general consensus at the time was that they were sinister weapons of death (an image not helped by the model name ‘The Predator’, which served as a key offensive strategy in the Afghanistan war). Pakistan also saw heavy American drone strikes during the conflict, with hundreds of attacks ordered from Washington.

2006 saw drones benefit from a less-aggressive reputation, which marked the beginning of the commercial market and the drone boom which continues to this day. After the disaster of Hurricane Katrina, drones were utilised for humanitarian efforts, combing the affected area in search of survivors. Drones kept going down in price and size, soon becoming affordable for prosumers, and shortly after, the average person looking to experiment with new technology. 2016 saw the peak of drone popularity in the market, and in the two intervening years, new avenues for the technology were (and are still being) explored, from Amazon deliveries to medical supply chains.

If you’re interested in purchasing a drone, or an avid drone fan looking for a little more info on your favourite piece of gear, check out the Case Farm for a beautiful timeline graphic which charts the history of drones so far. They understand drones as well as anyone, and they also understand why it’s so important to protect them; make sure you’re fully kitted out before you take to the skies!

Category: General

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