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Flying beer could still become reality

Feb. 10, 2014, Milwaukee, Wisc. - A craft brewer still has hopes of one day using drones to deliver its lager to ice-fishing anglers on Minnesota lakes by air, despite being grounded by federal aviation officials after a recent test run.


February 10, 2014
By The Associated Press

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Lakemaid Beer recently tested its delivery system by flying a 12-pack
of its brew to anglers on central Minnesota's Lake Mille Lacs. A video
of the experiment posted online showed a small unmanned aerial system,
or drone, not much bigger than the beer it carried flying over the head
of a curious onlooker, landing on an iced-over lake and setting the beer
down in front of a fishing shanty.

Lakemaid Beer president Jack Supple said he came up
with the idea after Amazon.com CEO Jeff Bezos caused a recent stir by
announcing the company is exploring drone deliveries and sending a small
package via an automated drone could be reality in a few years.

Supple thought the idea
could work well in a wide-open space with drones programmed to deliver
the beer, which is brewed in Stevens Point, Wis., to specific
co-ordinates.

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"We could actually do that on a frozen
lake," Supple said last Friday. "They (anglers) know their GPS
co-ordinates because they know their favourite spots."

But Supple said an FAA inspector heard
him talking about his delivery plan on the radio and soon a stack of
regulatory information arrived, including a document titled Integration
of Civil Unmanned Aircraft System in the National Air Space System
Roadmap.

The Federal Aviation Administration has barred drone use for commercial purposes since 2007.

FAA spokeswoman Elizabeth Isham Cory said
last Friday she couldn't confirm Supple's radio interview had tipped
off an inspector, but noted his video was all over the Internet.

She said she couldn't quantify the number
of cases where the FAA has had to step in on commercial use of drones,
but it happens around the United States.

"There's a lot of people who want to use them for real estate or photography," she said.

The FAA recently announced six test sites
around the country that will conduct research into certification and
operational requirements for integrating the drones. The agency expects
to publish proposed rules for small, unmanned aerial systems later this
year, Isham Cory said.


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