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Dreams of the World: Riley Morgan, Drones for Good Enthusiast

Dreams of the World: One Dream a Time. This post is the latest in the series Dreams of the World, which profiles interesting people Kike meets during his travels. Drones and Small Unmanned Aerial Systems Special Series

Morgan Riley by KIKE CALVO
Morgan Riley with his quadcopter at the Drone and Robotic Conference held at New York University last year. Photo © KIKE CALVO

¨There is a big difference between my quadcopter and a Predator or an actual drone with hellfire missiles on it,¨ said Riley Morgan, a 14 year-old New Yorker.   ¨My quadcopter is used for fun, as a nice way to pass time. The Predator is designed to harm people. No matter how I use it, my quad is not designed to be dangerous or deadly as a full-scale military drone.¨

¨When people come up to me arguing that drone usage should be banned, I explain to them what I am doing and why it is different from what a predator drone can do,¨ said Morgan.  I tell them the difference between my quadcopter and an actual drone, and I try to explain to them that it is a hobby that shouldn’t be banned.¨

¨I’m not really sure what my dream is. I really want to do something in the Radio Control industry, but I’m not sure what exactly,¨ said Morgan. ¨As long as it is fun and it gets other people into the hobby, I will be happy doing it. I’ll probably start a company that sells RC and multi-rotor equipment.¨

Morgan claims to have always been obsessed with building things and hardly ever reading the instructions. ¨When I was ten or eleven, I started working with the first “lego mindstorms“, a platform that allowed me to build motorized lego structures or vehicles, and then program them with my computer.¨

Talking about current projects, Riley is going to attempt to build a waterproof hexacopter. ¨It will have a 3-axis gimbal equipped with a night vision camera, a thermal imaging camera, and normal camera that can be used for search and rescue and doing things humans can’t do¨, he explained.

In an effort to educate himself in the topic, Riley attended in October the Drone and Robotic Conference (DARC) in New York City. ¨I learned a lot of things at DARC, but mostly I met other people who were also hobbyists,¨ he said. ¨It was a really great experience, and the best day ever to skip school.¨

Morgan finds inspiration in the RC World. ¨ I admire Trappy, from Team Blacksheep who is always doing new things and pushing boundaries, he said. ¨I also like other aspects of the RC world and I would also like to get into planes. I’m thinking of starting with a Bixler style plane and then moving on to a flying wing like the Zephyr, a large air foiled wing.¨

Morgan considers the FAA to be in a really tough spot. ¨I think that they should put some laws in place, but not too many,¨ he said.  ¨These laws should be reasonable, unlike one of their more recent regulations. ¨ According to that regulation, selling a video taken from a predator drone is treated the same way in court as taping a camera to a $20 toy helicopter and selling the video taken from that. ¨I think they need to open up a new branch of the FAA dedicated to RC models.¨

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Morgan´s Favorite Gear


Ready to fly for beginners:

DJI Phantom Aerial UAV Drone Quadcopter

DJI Phantom 2 Vision Quadcopter with Built in FPV Camera

Walkera QR Ladybird Mini Quadcopter


For people looking to build:


Futaba 8JA 2.4GHZ S/FHSS with R2008SB M2 Transmitter

Futaba 8FGHS SUPER 2.4G R6208SB MD 2 Transmitter

Flight controllers:

DJI Naza-M Multi-rotor Auto Pilot Version 2 with GPS

Jmt DJI Naza-m Lite Multi-rotor Flight Control System with GPS Compass BEC LED Module


Frame / Motor ESC combos:

DJI F550 Naza and GPS Included ARF Multicopter Quadcopter Kit with ESC Motor Propeller

Learn More:

Cool stuff for Drone and Unmanned Vehicle enthusiasts

Drone Entrepreneurship: 30 Businesses You Can Start

Small Unmanned Aircraft: Theory and Practice

Introduction to Unmanned Systems: Air, Ground, Sea & Space

UAV Fundamentals Executive Course

How to Start an Unmanned Aircraft Vehicle (UAV) Business Course on DVD

Small UAV Construction

Getting Started with Hobby Quadcopters and Drones: Learn about, buy and fly these amazing aerial vehicles

Military Robots and Drones: A Reference Handbook (Contemporary World Issues)

The Media Source Presents Drones: Are They Watching You? Magazine

Introduction to Unmanned Aircraft Systems

Drone Pilot (Cool Careers)

Fly by Wire Aircraft: Fighters, Drones, and Airliners

Introduction to Remote Sensing, Fifth Edition





  1. TFV
    August 10, 2015, 8:35 am

    Laws are certainly required and FAA is sure in a tight spot. But what’s more important would be to make current drone users aware of the existing laws. thefancyvoyager.com

  2. TFV
    August 10, 2015, 8:33 am

    Laws are certainly required and FAA is sure in a tight spot. But what’s more important would be to make current drone users aware of the existing laws. Most people flying quads and other multirotor craft are not aware of the local laws about drones. Manufacturers should take lead and make a concerted effort to educate their customers about the legal issues they will have to be aware of. But then no company seems to be doing this. thefancyvoyager.com

  3. David Wang
    January 18, 2015, 11:12 pm

    Morgan’s right, the FAA is in a really tight spot. A lot of beginners fly these drones recklessly. I cover a lot of the FAA rules and other local jurisdiction issues in this article: http://www.quadcopteracademy.com/faa-drone-regulations/

  4. James Arul Thomas
    September 28, 2014, 2:18 am

    I like the line that says “There is a big difference between my quadcopter and a Predator” in this article. It’s so admire to see the growth of Quadcopters in terms of technology, new features and design. This is a great article which is put-together very well.  I’m to read stories on how this little device has changed the lives of people such as Riley Morgan, a 14 year-old New Yorker. My personal favourite quad is Dji Phantom Vision. I also found a great review on Dji Phantom Fc40 – http://www.bestquadcoptersreviews.com/dji-phantom-fc40-review/ which is worth sharing.

  5. Nick
    July 22, 2014, 3:59 pm

    And it will happen at some point. Drones are here to stay, but unfortunately negative press such as this helicopter pilot who was flying too low and claimed that a drone was dangerously close – http://www.dronesden.com/helicopter-and-drone-in-near-collision/

    In fact, helicopters should be banned for this sort of filming e.g. races, events, etc. and drones should be introduced instead. 2015 will be the year of the commercial drones!

  6. Mervin Liew
    June 17, 2014, 5:48 am

    Great detailed information about quadcopters. Quads allow ordinary people to film aerial footage like the ones from http://bestquadcopter.com. In the past, that is almost impossible. Now that quads like the DJI Phantom is easily available, everybody can start filming aerials.

  7. Darrell Smith
    April 30, 2014, 3:55 am

    Riley… keep standing up for what you believe in.

  8. Tony Lee
    March 12, 2014, 4:24 am

    Excellent collection of resources! I also found http://Bestquadcopterkits.com to be a great site for how tos and quadcopter reviews.