How the FAA ruined Valentine’s Day

Agency nipped drone flower delivery service in the bud

Written by JPat Brown
Edited by Beryl Lipton

Shortly before Valentine’s Day 2014, the Detroit-based Flower Delivery Express announced that it had a secret weapon to set it apart amid a glutted market: drones.

Because after all, you can’t spell love without BLADE FPV Nano RTF QX (TM).

The novel idea of having a robot hand-deliver intimacy generated a fair amount of media attention which ultimately proved to be the flying florist’s undoing - when the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) caught wind, they put an end to the promotion pretty quickly. Commercial UAS use was a no-go, so unless somebody at Flower Delivery Express was able to run out and get a pilot’s license in the next couple days, those drones were going nowhere.

Curious about what a crushed dream looks like, Shawn Musgrave filed a FOIA for the FAA for their cease and desist order. When he heard back nearly a year later, he discovered the unkindest cut of all - the FAA had dashed the hopes of Michigan’s last-minute Lotharios with nothing more than a post-it note and a phone call.

The FAA has since loosened its restrictions on commercial use slightly, but sanctioned drone deliveries are still some years off. So, if you’re looking for a convenient excuse for why you’re lacking in the romantic gesture department this evening, you can always blame the federal government.


Image via FAA