The history of drones is a long one. The earliest records date back to the 15th century, when Leonardo da Vinci sketched plans for a flying machine that could be powered by a screw or a spring. But it wasn’t until the 20th century that people began to think seriously about building robots that could fly.

When was the Drone Invented? The first modern drone was invented in 1935. The De Havilland DH.82B Queen Bee was a British bomber that could fly for up to five hours at a time. It was first flown on July 13, 1935, and went on to serve in World War II.

The drone has been around since the late 1940’s, and it was originally designed to be a remote-controlled flying bomb but has since evolved into the aerial imaging machine that we see today. In this article, we’ll take a look at the history of drones to fully understand how far these aircraft have come.

History Of Drones (1935 – Current)

History Of Drones (1935 - Current)

Modern drones have been around for about a decade. The word “drone” in military aviation is used to refer to unmanned aircraft controlled by radio or autonomous/computer programs. Drones have a long history though dating back to World Wars. Here’s a list of the inventions that have led to the creation of today’s drones.

Queen Bee Aircraft – 1935

The first modern drone was the Queen Bee, created in 1935 by inventor Fairey Aviation. The Queen Bee was a remote-controlled plane that could fly at speeds of up to 185 miles per hour and carry a payload of 1,000 pounds.

The Queen Bee aircraft was a remote-controlled bomb used to attack German U-boats during World War II. The drone was made of lightweight wood, fiberglass and steel, and was controlled by radio.

Us Drones Program – 1936

Drones were first used for military purposes in 1936, when the United States government created a program to develop unmanned aircraft. These drones were intended to be used for reconnaissance and surveillance purposes.

It was used to test the concept of unmanned aircraft, but it wasn’t until World War II that they were actually used in battle. During that time, drones were used to fly over enemy territory and drop bombs on targets without endangering anyone on board.

U.s. Navy Radio-controlled Uav Torpedo – 1937

The U.S. Navy began experimenting with unmanned aerial vehicles in the 1930s. The first drone, called a “radio-controlled torpedo”, was developed in 1937 by the Navy’s Bureau of Aeronautics to be used as an attack aircraft against enemy ships.

Drones were used during World War II by both the Allied and Axis powers, including by the Germans against Britain (in the form of buzz bombs) and the Allies against Japan (in the form of cruise missiles). By 1944, UAVs were being used operationally by both sides in World War II, particularly for reconnaissance purposes.

Boeing And U.s. Air Force Fpv Drone – 1943

The history of drones is a long one. In 1943, the U.S. Air Force and Boeing began testing the first-person view (FPV) flight system and this technology could be used for drone control. 

The FPV system allowed for remote control of aircraft without being in the cockpit by using a video camera to feed live video images to the pilot and the pilot could fly the aircraft by watching these images on a screen. 

This technology was used during World War II by German scientists who developed an early version of this system that would later be used in drones today.

Israel Surveillance And Scouting Drone – 1973

In 1973, Israel developed UAVs for surveillance and scouting. These drones were used in the Yom Kippur War, where they performed reconnaissance missions and helped guide Israeli troops through enemy territory.

That same year, the US Air Force started experimenting with UAVs at the Wright Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio. 

The first prototype was a fixed-wing aircraft with a wingspan of 10 feet. In 1975, a research project called “Aerial Reconnaissance Outfit” was begun by NASA to test the feasibility of using such an unmanned aircraft for military reconnaissance missions.

Battlefield Uavs – 1982 

During the early 1980s, the United States military began to experiment with unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) for battlefield reconnaissance. 

By 1985, the US Air Force had developed a number of different types of UAVs for missions such as reconnaissance, surveillance, and target acquisition. These were used extensively in the first Gulf War in 1991. The drones were autonomous and relied on a pre-programmed flight path. 

Us Drone Production – 1985

In 1985, the United States significantly scaled up its drone production. This was done in response to their growing need for unmanned, remote-controlled aircraft that could be used for surveillance or attack. 

They also realized that these aircraft would be useful for military operations as well as civil applications, such as search and rescue missions.

The first Predator drone, called the General Atomics MQ-1 Predator, had been deployed just a few years before in 1989.

The MQ-1 was an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) used for reconnaissance and surveillance. Unlike most other UAVs, it was not meant to be deployed from an aircraft carrier or another airfield. Rather, it was designed to operate from remote ground bases. 

It could fly at altitudes of 15,000 feet and stay aloft for over 24 hours before needing refueling, which allowed it to loiter over its target area for longer periods of time than many other types of UAVs at that time. The MQ-1 has been used extensively by the US military since its deployment in 2000 until today.

Rq2 Pioneer Drone

In 1986, the RQ2 Pioneer drone was developed by the U.S. Navy and Israel. The drone was designed to carry out reconnaissance missions and to provide target acquisition for manned aircraft. It was able to operate at altitudes up to 10,000 feet and could fly at speeds of up to 200 miles per hour.

The Pioneer drone had a wingspan of 22 feet and could carry a payload of up to 400 pounds. It was powered by a single propeller that generated 1,800 horsepower.

Faa Regulated Drones In Civilian Airspace For The First Time – 2006

2006 was a big year for drones. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) first permitted unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to fly in civilian airspace for the first time in 2006.

At the time, this was considered a huge step forward for drone manufacturers, who had been watching from the sidelines as their creations were regulated to military use only. Now they could begin exploring new uses for drones within civilian life.

The FAA’s decision to allow UAVs into civilian airspace was made after extensive research into how it would impact air traffic and other aspects of flight safety.

While there were many concerns about the potential hazards of allowing drones on commercial flights, many experts believed that if properly regulated and monitored, UAVs could be a safe way to improve efficiency and reduce costs in the aviation industry.

Parrot Drone Company Developed First Consumer Grade Drone – 2010

In 2010, French drone manufacturer Parrot unveiled the AR Drone that was the first commercially available drone capable of autonomous flight and camera operation.

The AR Drone was able to fly for up to 12 minutes on a single charge and could be controlled from an iPhone or Android device via Wi-Fi connection. The drone also featured a 720p camera that could stream live video of what it saw back to the user’s phone or tablet.

Dji Developed The Phantom Drone – 2013

In 2013, DJI Produced the First Phantom Drone. As a matter of fact, it was not only the first drone but also the most popular drone in its category. 

This drone was made for professionals and hobbyists who wanted to take their drone flying to new heights. The DJI Phantom was named after the legendary fighter plane from World War II that was used by both sides of the war.

The DJI Phantom has been updated over time with newer and better features such as:

  • GPS
  • Vision Positioning System (VPS)
  • Sense and Avoid Technology (SAT)
  • First Person View (FPV)

Popular Drone Models Used For Military Purposes

When you think of a drone, you might picture one of those tiny little flying toys that kids love so much. But drones have come a long way since then! Drones are now used for everything from military operations to delivering packages.

Following are some of the most popular drone models used for military purposes.

De Havilland Queen Bee Seaplane L5984

The De Havilland Queen Bee Seaplane L5984 was used by the British Royal Navy during World War II. The aircraft was designed to be launched from an aircraft carrier and land on water, but it could also take off from land.

The De Havilland Queen Bee was a two-seater biplane seaplane with a crew of two: a pilot and a navigator/gunner. It was powered by twin engines that produced 550 horsepower each. The plane had an enclosed cockpit, with an open gunner’s position at the rear. The Queen Bee could carry up to 1,000 pounds (453 kilograms) of bombs, torpedoes or depth charges.

B-17 Flying Fortress

The B-17 Flying Fortress was one of the most popular bomber aircraft used by the U.S. Army Air Forces during WWII. The plane was designed by Boeing and introduced in 1939, but it didn’t enter service until 1941.

The B-17 was a four-engine heavy bomber with a crew of 10 and room for up to 8,000 lbs of bombs. It could fly at an altitude of 35,000 feet and had a range of 2,000 miles when fully loaded.

The Flying Fortress was designed to survive attacks from fighter planes, which made it very effective in bombing raids over Germany and Japan during World War II. It could carry a crew of 10 and up to 8 tons of bombs.

Canberra U Mk 10 Jet Plane

The Canberra U Mk 10 jet plane is a British-made aircraft that was used by the Royal Air Force (RAF) and the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF). It was first introduced in 1949, and served until 1977. The Canberra U Mk 10 jet plane was produced in many variants, including bomber aircraft, reconnaissance aircraft, transport aircraft, and trainer aircraft.

The Canberra U Mk 10 jet plane is known for its speed and maneuverability. It has a maximum speed of 690 km/h (430 mph) at 9,450 meters (31,000 feet), and can reach this speed within 12 minutes of takeoff. The Canberra U Mk 10 jet plane can also climb quickly: it can reach 5,000 meters (16,000 feet) in less than eight minutes of flight time.

Midge Surveillance Drone

The Midge surveillance drone is a popular model used by the military. It is small and light, which makes it easy to carry and deploy. The Midge has a wingspan of six feet, making it ideal for flying in tight spaces such as urban areas.

The Midge is equipped with two cameras that can take high-quality photos and video footage. In addition, it has an infrared camera that allows it to see in the dark. This drone can fly at altitudes up to 3,000 feet, which makes it useful for monitoring larger areas.

The Midge Surveillance Drone was invented by Israeli engineers in 1989 and has been used widely in warfare since then. It was first used in Afghanistan, where it provided valuable information about the enemy’s movements and locations.

Herrick Xvi (h16)

The Herrick Xvi (h16) is a drone that has been used by the British Military since 2012. It’s a medium-sized, long-endurance drone that can stay in the air for up to 20 hours. The H16 is capable of carrying out reconnaissance missions and providing video surveillance while also being able to carry out strikes against targets.

The H16 is controlled by one pilot who operates the aircraft from a remote location using video feeds from onboard cameras and sensors. The H16 has a wingspan of 4 meters and weighs approximately 80 kilograms when empty.

The H16 is capable of flying high above battlefields at altitudes up to 25,000 feet (7,600 meters). It can reach speeds up to 138 miles per hour (222 kilometers per hour).

Mq-9 Reaper

The Mq-9 Reaper is an American remotely piloted unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) built by General Atomics and used primarily by the United States Air Force and Central Intelligence Agency. It was developed primarily for the purpose of conducting military missions over battlefields or other hostile environments where risk to human lives is high. 

The Reaper has seen action in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and has been used in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Yemen, Libya and Somalia.

The Mq-9 Reaper is a multi-mission aircraft that can perform close air support, reconnaissance and intelligence missions. Its internal weapons bay can be armed with laser-guided bombs, Hellfire missiles and other ordnance. Its external hardpoints enable it to carry missiles, bombs or fuel pods on its wings.

Evolution Of Drones: From Military To Hobby & Commercial

Drones have been around for a long time. They were first developed for military use in the early 1900s, but over the past few years, they’ve been used in a number of different ways: from hobby and commercial to scientific and educational.

The earliest drones were simply radio-controlled aircraft that were used by the US military during World War II to carry out surveillance and reconnaissance missions. By the 1960s, drones had been incorporated into American military operations, including Vietnam and Iraq. They were also used in battle zones around the world over the next few decades.

As drones became more sophisticated, their uses expanded beyond war zones. Drones have been used to perform scientific research and collect data about weather patterns or natural phenomena like volcanoes and earthquakes. They’ve also been used to map out areas where there has been no human presence before.

Commercial uses for drones include aerial photography and videography. Farmers have also started using them to monitor crops from above, especially when it comes to identifying pests or diseases that could threaten their crops’ health or productivity.


On July 13, 1935, British engineer Geoffrey de Havilland tested the first modern drone: the De Havilland DH.82B Queen Bee. The Queen Bee was a British bomber that could fly for up to five hours at a time, and it served in World War II.

The underlying idea behind drones goes back to the earliest days of human civilization. From the first hot air balloon to the first unmanned bombing, there have always been aerial vehicles used for military purposes. 

Drones are just a natural progression, or perhaps an unnatural evolution, from these aerial vehicles that started out as simple concepts on paper, to actual aircraft and advanced flying photo capturing machines in our skies.

Frequently Asked Questions (when Was The Drone Invented)

When Did Drones Come Out To The Public?

Drones have been around for a while, but it wasn’t until 2005 that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) permitted their use to be flown in civil airspace. Before that, drones were only used by military or government agencies. 

Why Was The Drone Invented?

The drone was invented for military purposes. The United States military saw the need for a flying machine that could be controlled remotely and used to gather information and perform surveillance. They needed a machine that could fly over enemy territory, take pictures of targets, and send them back to headquarters.

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