MAKING OF TIME’S HISTORIC 1000 DRONE COVER PHOTO +

While we’ve all heard of the new DRONE rage, have we ever before seen anything even approaching this sort of orchestration?  Hardly.  This TIME Magazine special cover event seems to be a first for such an extravagant enterprise – – – 1,000 individual Drones flying in perfect synchronization in order to achieve the desired result.  Just imagine creating the software to bring this plan to a successful reality.

Without further ado, here is the short (4:28 long) video of not only the final effect of the project, but of a fascinating insight into the behind-the-scenes efforts that made it all possible.

Some of our FASF Drone enthusiasts, such as Bob Wright, John Read, and Warren Talbot have already created some footage for our site, so if any of  you out there have some interesting airborne videos from your Drone flights, please let us know and we might be able to share those videos with our viewers right here, too.

Remember, the U.S. Military is already deeply involved in the use and development of their own DRONE technology.  All branches of our Military establishment, however, prefer their own nomenclature for their DRONE ops, preferring to call them UAV’s (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) rather than Drones.  The Army and Marines are using UAV craft as small as an insect, to as large as the GLOBAL HAWK and even full-sized multi-engined aircraft.

The earliest genuinely successful DRONE or UAV technology was likely first experienced during WWII with the use of DRONES (as they were then called) for target towing missions, but this soon evolved into actual combat applications (see videos below). When one considers that modern computer technology was not available in that era, what was done with simple radio remote controls is impressive.

Interestingly, the small private aircraft called the MOONEY MITE, a single place ship, is and example of what was done after WWII, when wartime Drone work and design helped lead to concepts such as the small primarily wooden constructed MOONEY MITE plane, a small ship designed to fulfill an expected new market made up of returning WWII fighter pilots.  It’s designer, Al Mooney, had worked earlier for the CULVER AIRCRAFT COMPANY just prior to and during WWII, where he was the principle designer of the CULVER CADET an airplane which is discussed in the short (3:45) video immediately below:

Here, again below, are some short videos to show how DRONES were used, long before either computers or even TV were known to the general public.  This first video is 1:24 in length.

As early as WWI, aviation designers and engineers could see the advantages of UAV’s, so had begun work on the concept.  In the post WWI era, and especially in the 1930’s, a great deal of effort, some of it even successful, was undertaken in Great Britain, by the Royal Navy.  In 1933, a modified floatplane called Fairey Queen was tested as the first flightless drone aircraft. It crashed on two out of three trials, but by 1934, Queen Bee, a modified Tiger Moth aircraft, followed with greater success.

Training gunners on these rudimentary models wasn’t a very realistic simulation, but a solution was soon to come from the United States in the form of British-born actor Reginald Denny, and his Radioplane Company. After years of trying desperately to interest the US Navy in the Radioplane-1, Denny finally succeeded in 1939, and over the course of the war some 15,374 models of Radioplane were built.

As an interesting aside, did you know that film star Marilyn Monroe once worked assembling these radio controlled UAV’s?  At that time, her later movie name wasn’t yet part of our culture, so, at Radioplane, she was known as simply Norma Jeane Dougherty, the 18 year old wife of a U.S. Merchant Marine Seaman.

Fast, agile and durable, Radioplanes were fitted with responsive radio controls and were better able to mimic the speed and agility of enemy fighters.  Even during the D-Day summer of 1944, the Allies turned to high-stakes DRONE warfare. Under the code name Operation Aphrodite, radio-controlled bombers were packed with explosives and guided into the air by Allied pilots instructed to eject before their planes reached high-value targets in territory controlled by Nazi Germany. (Killed on one of these treacherous missions was the Navy aviator Lt. Joseph P. Kennedy Jr., older brother of U.S. President John F. Kennedy).

Below is a USN video (8:10 long) that depicts the Navy test of a TDR-1 combat Drone in the Pacific:

As for the advent of and actual deployment of the new variety of “insect sized” UAV’s, that will have to wait for a later post, but here is some descriptive material about that avenue of research right here.

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