An enterprising Minnesota brewing company thought the sky was the limit when it started a revolutionary way to get its product to the ice fisherman of the Land of 10,000 Lakes: Air delivery by drone helicopter.
Unfortunately for Minnesota’s fishing public, the Obama administration’s FAA has grounded the operation.
Lakemaid Beer of Stevens Point already had the process going in its early stages, using GPS coordinates to locate customers and deliver ice cold – really ice cold – beer to ice fishing shacks, but the Federal Aviation Administration poured cold water on the idea.
Under FAA rules, unmanned aircraft are banned for commercial use, according to the aviation website AV Web.Private aircraft are allowed to operate freely under an altitude of 400 feet for fun, but doing it for cash is a no-no for the moment.
Merchandise delivery by drone has been a hot topic at least since Amazon founder Jeff Bezos told “60 Minutes” in early December that he saw unmanned aircraft in the future of the direct delivery giant.
But Bezos and other innovative thinkers – like the would-be pioneers at Lakemaid Beer – aren’t going to get far unless until the omniscient federal government gets around to figuring out how to let businesses break new ground without crushing their creativity. That’s what the FAA did when it stepped in after getting wind of Lakemaid’s operation when its marketing video got popular.
Of course, air deliveries would need some regulation, just like automobiles need traffic lights to keep things going smoothly. But the way to get to that point isn’t by stifling every innovation that comes along. And the ice fishing territory of Minnesota in January would be a perfect place to let things start working themselves out.
Lakemaid Beer partner Jeff Supple thought so, anyway, according to NPR.
“We were a little surprised at the FAA interest in this since we thought we were operating under the 400-foot limit,” Supple told NPR in an email, noting that “a vast frozen lake was a lot safer place than [what] Amazon was showing on ‘60 Minutes.’”
Check out the video and see what those Minnesota fishermen are missing out on.
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