The History of Drones
Early Drone History
In 1849, the earliest known unmanned drones were
deployed by Austrian soldiers filled with explosives
attacking city of Venice. They were launched by a
nearby ship. The wind would guide balloons set off by
electromagnetism through copper wire. However, there
was limited success by these attacks, and the concept
didn’t stick very well.
The Wright Brothers invented flight of winged
Aircraft. This changed everything for manned aircraft.
The Kitty Hawk flight was in December 17th, 1903.
Nikola Tesla, a prolific inventor, designed a radio
control boat. Tesla attempted to sell this idea to
U.S. Navy with remote controlled torpedoes. Navy was
not sold on the concept.
In 1916, the first pilotless winged aircraft called
the Ruston Proctor Aerial Target was invented. This
opened the door for more better UAVs (Unmanned Aerial
During WWI, the development of radio-controlled
techniques by Archibald Low named “the father of radio
guidance systems” helped advance drone technology. In
1918, the Hewitt-Sperry Automatic Plane AKA “Flying
Bomb” or the “Aerial Torpedo” was invented.
During 1917, the United States of America came up with
their own version of UAVs. One was the Kettering Bug,
which was never used, since the war ended. It is
considered to be the first design of the curse
There is a difference between a cruise missile and a
UAV. They both carry out similar missions or jobs.
Drones can be armed and carry equipment depending on
their purpose. UAVs and drones are recoverable after
completing a mission. Once cruise missiles hit their
targets, they are done. The automatic airplane of the
past carved the way to the modern cruise missile of
Reginald Denny from England moved to United States. He
soon opened his very own hobby shops of powered model
planes. Later, his business became a radio plane
Company selling the idea to military as target drones.
The most famous model was the OQ-2A.
Modern Military Drone History
UAV technology and drones were vastly enhanced during
WW2 and the Cold War.
However, they were viewed as untrustworthy and costly
innovations at their time. They were not as nearly as
trusty or impressive as other improvements in manned
aircraft at that time such as the Flying Fortress and
It is acknowledged that during the Cold War, both US
and USSR used drones to some degree to spy on the
opposing side. Some of these details are still
currently classified, and the some of the leaked
information is often inconsistent.
What is recognized is that modern drone warfare
started in 1982, when Israel organized the usage of
battle-ready UAVs along with manned aircraft to
eliminate the Syrian fleet with very few casualties.
The Israeli Air Force used militarized drone for
reconnaissance, jamming communication, and as decoys
to prevent the pilot fatalities.
This drone technology was not brand new, yet the IAF
discovered how to utilize drones to make their
military ops more prosperous. International interest
in drone hardware picked up significantly. For
example, the US paid up to tens of millions of dollars
on new drone contracts in 1984.
Most modern militarized drones serve two purposes. The
first purpose is combat surveillance, where human
pilot uses radio control to fly a drone to different
points of interest to spot out enemy positions.
Secondly, the military uses drones for tactical
reconnaissance. This is done by using a small drone,
such as the size of a commercial drone, which flies on
autopilot to mark targets by capturing images before
coming back to home base.
The military has used drones to carry out missile
strikes. An example would be the infamous MQ- 1
Predator which would carry out these drone strikes.
Truth be told, drones are often used for offensive
measures, but their actual usage in these
circumstances and the technology implemented in these
drones to wipe out targets are classified for most
cases. Also, The MQ-1 predator retired in 2018.
Modern Commercial Drone History
The first account of non-militarized drone usage came
from a Wall Street Journal Report. According to this
report, it claims commercial drones began in 2006.
Government agencies used drones to provide disaster
relief, border surveillance, and wildfire fighting.
Meanwhile, corporations started to use drones for
inspecting pipelines and dispersing pesticides on
As UAVs became better for the military, those same
technological advancements could be used for
Recently, recreational drones started not too long
ago, and its popularity is increasing quickly. The
reason behind this is that the Federal Aviation
Administration (FAA) needed to be assured that
commercial drones were safe to authorize and establish