The Washington state Capitol campus could soon be a no-fly-zone for drones. The agency that oversees the 486-acre campus is considering a strict ban.

If you want to go to college to learn how to design, build, fly or fix a drone, your time has come. Many institutions of higher learning around the Northwest are recognizing that unmanned aircraft could become a key technology of the future.

The Boeing Company's unmanned aircraft subsidiary based in the Columbia River Gorge passed a milestone this week in commercializing drone technology.

Killer whale biologists used a hexacopter drone last month to capture stunning, overhead photos of every single member of the endangered Puget Sound orca population.

Tom Banse / Northwest News Network

Consumer drones look like child's play after you get a gander at the unmanned, water-dropping helicopter that was pitched to the federal government Wednesday. The K-MAX chopper is the largest of several remotely-piloted firefighting aircraft to get a tryout this year.

Tom Banse / / Northwest News Network

Talk about a big drone… Federal wildfire fighting agencies got a close-up look Wednesday at a remotely piloted helicopter that can fly through smoke or darkness to drop water or ferry supplies. 

Multiple times this summer, the sighting of a wayward hobbyist drone has grounded aerial firefighting aircraft at Western wildfires. But unmanned aircraft have the potential to be useful at wildfires too.


With the surge in wildfires this year, firefighters are facing a new challenge; interference from drones. 

Unmanned, remote-controlled aircraft are being flown near active wildfires.  The safety issues they cause can keep aircraft grounded—and keep them from the frequently critical task of dropping retardant. 

“Flying a drone near a wildfire is putting someone else’s life in danger, whether it be firefighters on the ground, pilots in the air…your drone hobby is not worth someone else’s life…”

Idaho fish and game regulators want there to be no doubt that hunters cannot use drones. In Oregon as well, lawmakers have tried to head off a fair chase issue before it rears its head.

The Federal Aviation Administration has recently granted clearance for takeoff to big batches of commercial drone operators.