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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Drone sales soaring this Christmas, capping a record year for the industry

By Ashley Halsey Iii Washington Post

Still looking for that perfect Christmas gift? It’s not too late to buy a drone, the gift that 1 in 5 people say they’d like to receive and that 1.2 million of them are going to find under the tree.

A drone is now one of the most sought-after gifts. And the Federal Aviation Administration, which refers to them as unmanned aircraft systems, would like anyone who receives a drone to know that they have to be registered before they take to the air.

The FAA says twice as many drones will be sold in 2016 as in the previous year, numbering 2.5 million. The Consumer Technology Association says sales during the Christmas season will more than double over last year.

There’s growing awareness of drones and their capabilities, a recent survey by Saint Leo University shows, and people are somewhat less worried about them than they were a year ago, although almost 66 percent of those polled said they remained concerned about them.

For the most part, those who worried said they feared a drone might collide with an airplane or peer into their bedroom window.

Overwhelmingly, people surveyed say they support use of drones by the military, with almost 70 percent saying they are a good alternative to deploying ground troops in troubled areas.

Between 20,000 and 25,000 Islamic State militants have been killed by drone attacks in Iraq and Syria, according to military sources. There have been more than 20,000 military drone strikes in the past year in Afghanistan, Yemen and Syria.

There also was strong support for drone use by local police departments.

Reaction was mixed when people were asked whether they would be “open to receiving deliveries by drone from such companies as Amazon or Wal-Mart.”

More than a third said they would, while almost half said they wouldn’t and 15 percent said they were uncertain about the concept that those companies and many others were working to achieve.

About an equal number of people thought their communities should ban drones as thought they should be allowed to fly.

“You can’t want to ban them, and also want to fly them or have them deliver packages,” said Leo Ondrovic, a member of the Saint Leo science department.

Ondrovic said the survey found that almost 22 percent of people expressed interest in owning one and that 88 percent of those people said it simply looked like a fun hobby.