That dude writing stuff about that thing.


Drone pilots will have to register their aircraft this holiday season

Change is coming to the world of unmanned aeronautics. On Oct. 19, Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx announced the formation of a taskforce to come up with a plan to create a national registry for Unmanned Aircraft Systems, also known as drones. Today, FAA Administrator Michael Huerta announced the members of that taskforce. It’s made up of over two dozen people from all aspects of the drone world; manufacturers, retailers, airline pilots, law enforcement, lobbyists, and even a member of the Academy of Model Aeronautics.

The taskforce has until Nov. 20 to determine the parameters for drone registration. According to the FAA and DOT, drone registration is needed due to the ever-increasing number of drone sightings by airline pilots, the grounding of helicopters fighting wildfires in California, and drone crashes at sporting events. They feel that making private individuals register their drones, they will be able to trace that drone back to its owner. Of course, this will only work if the drone crashes and if the owner put the registration information on the drone.

This holiday season retailers are expecting to sell an estimated 1 million new drones. That means 1 million new drone pilots. Prior to the advent of quadcopters with flight controllers that stabilized them in flight, remote controlled aircraft was an expensive hobby that required a lot of skill to enter. Maintaining the throttle, collective, tail rotor, and cyclic of an RC helicopter took years of practice and thousands of dollars in spare parts from crashing on a regular basis. As far as RC airplanes go, you need a field to use as a runway to takeoff and land. With quadcopters, they basically fly themselves. Some even allow you to enter GPS coordinates, create a flight plan, and the drone will take off, fly the route, then land itself, all without any input from the operator.

The simplicity of drones and the low cost of entry means that RC aircraft have gone from an expensive hobby to a cheap toy that anyone can buy and fly. Yes, there’s a few bad apples out there that make the rest of the drone flying community look bad, but that’s the case in anything. The official national body for model aviation in the US, the AMA, is urging its members to head over to the Federal Register notice on UAS registration and tell the FAA to exempt “sUAS that lack the capability to fly beyond line of site by using either first-person view, or those sUAS that lack onboard navigational systems that allow the aircraft to fly missions beyond visual line of site”, which would remove traditional RC planes an helicopters form the requirements. They cite their “impeccable 80-year track record of operating safely” as the reason they should be exempt. This is akin to the government requiring all cars capable of 200+ mph to be registered and the Ferrari Club of America saying that Ferraris and Maseratis should be exempt because Ferrari drivers are safer than those dirty Lamborghini plebs.

If the federal government wants us to register our toys because they have the ability to do stupid stuff, what’s to stop them from wanting to know the name of every owner of a fast car? The best part of this whole situation is that the FAA doesn’t require that the pilots of ultralights, which are much larger and more dangerous than drones, to register their aircraft or even be licensed to fly them. It’s pretty obvious that the government is scared of a new technology that they don’t know how to control, and due to a few high profile incidents involving drones, they are knee-jerking their way into something that’s going to be a nightmare to implement and manage and gives no incentive to the drone owners to participate in.

Regardless of how you feel about drone registration, head over to and read up on what they are saying and the 10 questions they are asking. You can leave a public comment with your feelings on the matter, and all comments are read.

Filed under: Drones Leave a comment
  • BH


    Thank you! This was most informative, and the MS Word method was especially useful (since I do not know how to operate PhotoShop).

    I was actually able to use the MS Word method with both a color and a B&W signature — however, the B&W worked much better in terms of how much ‘edging’ there was around the lines of the signature itself.

    The color signature, while largely transparent in background, evidenced a border of white around the signature lines whereas the B&W signature did not.

    Kudos, and many thanks again! . . . BH

  • Gail Thatgirl

    Thank you so much. I tried to do this for 5 days and in one hour I was able to make my signature. Is there a way to export the stamp to my pc and email or send it to someone else. Thanks Gail

  • bw

    Thank you for the tip on the GIF format.  I wasn’t able to get it to work through Word, but I was able to get it to work going through Powerpoint 2010 and using the transparency tool in Powerpoint and saving the signature as a GIF.  Don’t know why it didn’t work for me through Word, but the GIF format was a saver — many thanks!

    • Gail Thatgirl

      bw save your signature to your pc. open any word document, insert picture, then go get your signature and add it.

      Is it transparent? If not I will send you a link where you can scan in your signature and make a transparent signatur e stamp. Its $10.00 but well worth it. Let me know


  • Jchristianson

    I was really hoping this would work because I have searched all over for a way to get rid of that pesky background. I used your directions using Word; “An Easier Way: Good for Most Customers” and after “Adding the Stamp to Acrobat”. I tried it three times in the exact way it was written, but it didn’t work. 🙁 My signature went onto the pdf at first looking pixelated in black and white and the second and third time, it didn’t pixelate, but it also was not transparent, even though it was transparent in the Word document (actually it was never transparent in Word, only in Powerpoint).

    I am using Word 2010 and Adobe Acrobat X, so maybe it’s a slightly different procedure? If anyone has tips to create a signature with transparent background for these programs, I’d greatly appreciate it!

    • Melissa

      I had no luck with this method either…I’ll guess I’ll give it another go. 

      I may just go to FedEx Office & use their Photoshop software for a few bucks.  

  • Mikg

    The PNG file format should work as well as a GIF file format for a transparent background. I’ve been using this method of digitally signing documents for the last 6 years in Acrobat.

    You write your name legibly several times on a sheet of plain white paper and then scan it as a picture (save as PNG format) at 256 greyscale setting and 300dpi resolution for best results.

    Open the file you saved in Windows Paint or similar graphics editing tool (I use the free Paint.NET) and pick the best looking of your signatures and select a rectangle just surrounding your signature. Then select “crop to selection” so all that’s left is your signature. Then using the “magic wand” tool click anywhere on the white space surrounding your signature and hit the “Delete” key to erase everything that you’ve selected (the white space). Do this again for any areas that had white space enclosed by your signature lettering (like the letter “O” or “P” or “D” where your previous selection missed) until you have nothing left but your black signature on a transparent background. 

    Then just follow the rest of the procedures to add that as either a “Custom Stamp” in acrobat or create a digital signature when you use your company card or CAC card to sign documents.

  • Josh Schoenwald

    I tried this and apparently Acrobat (the latest version anyway) only recognizes the .gif format. Why, I have no idea. I tried both .PNG and Photoshop-PDF, neither of which showed the correct transparency in Acrobat. Tried it with a .GIF and worked like a charm.

  • Brad

    Cat Grace…how do you convert that image created in word into a PDF that is transparent.  If I copy and paste the image it is transparent but when I convert the image to a PDF it is no longer transparent.  I can do it on my old XP computer using Microsoft document imaging and word but can’t make in work in W7.

  • Info

    You da man… no really, you da man!  Thx!

  • Guest

    This method was both easy and fast.  I did need to look up how to access the magic wand, having not had much experience with Photoshop before today, but that took about 25 seconds (it’s under the Quick Selection Tool in CS4).  Thanks a ton.

  • Guest

    Ok, So this works in Excel as well, but every time I do it, a faint box appears around the signature, on screen and when printed. I need this to disappear! Anyone, please help!

  • La Diva del Chicharron

    It took me a while to figure it out, but I finally got it!  Thanks a lot.  😛

  • vicki

    I wanted so much for this to work, but after following all of the MS Word (2010) steps, once it is “stamped” in Adobe, there is still a white background! Oh well, I’ll keep searching for my right answer!

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