HomeRetailers say drones are taking off for holidays
By MICHAEL COUSINEAU
Drones are flying high atop many people’s Christmas shopping lists this year.“I told my girlfriend I might want one for Christmas,” said Ron Teed of Londonderry, who was checking out a drone on display at Best Buy at the Mall of New Hampshire in Manchester. Nearly 1 in 5 people surveyed nationally said they or an immediate family member were at least somewhat likely to buy an unmanned drone for personal use in the next year, including 11 percent who were very likely to, according to a new survey out from Rasmussen Reports.
The drones are selling well at Best Buy, according to general manager Chris Perfetti.“We’re actually focusing on it as a new category,” he said, adding he couldn’t discuss sales numbers.“I would love to have one,” said a customer, Romeo Vanegas of Manchester. “I’ve been reading about them. I think it’d be awesome.” Vanegas, an airplane enthusiast, said flying a drone would feel like piloting a helicopter.Drones of various sizes, some equipped with video cameras, ranged in price from $39.99 to $2,899.99 on Best Buy’s website, though, some models were listed as “sold out online.”
The Rasmussen Reports survey showed men (26 percent) were twice as interested in drones than women (12 percent).In the men’s department at J.C. Penney in Manchester, a drone with video camera was featured as a Thanksgiving Day promotion for $49.99 after rebate. Only two were left as of late last week, said the department manager, who gave only her first name, Kristen.“We had a few customers buying more than one,” she said.
The Rasmussen Reports survey also showed two-thirds believed the federal government should regulate the use of unmanned drones to protect public safety. Another 18 percent opposed it with 16 percent unsure.
Best Buy customer Teed said he couldn’t fly a drone in his own backyard because he lives about 3 miles from Manchester-Boston Regional Airport.The Federal Aviation Administration’s website says “never fly within 5 miles of an airport without first contacting air traffic control and airport authorities.”Several pilots have reported drone sightings near Manchester’s airport in recent years.
Last May, a Republic Airlines pilot reported a black and white drone hovering at 2,800 feet about 7.5 miles northeast of the airport.“No evasive action reported,” said the report. “Drone appeared to be hovering in one spot.”The FAA this summer said pilot reports of close calls with drones “have increased dramatically over the past year.”This year, a total of 650 had been reported by Aug. 9, compared to 238 in all of 2014.
In May, the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department adopted a rule that banned using drones, smart rifles and live-action game cameras while hunting or attempting to take wildlife “because it gives hunters an unfair advantage over wildlife,” Col. Kevin Jordan said at the time. Drones are being used by photographers and real estate agents to show off homes for sale, but not everyone is buying the concept.