This is the No. 1 city where America’s drones are flying

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There are nearly 60,000 registered drone users in California.
By

SALLYFRENCH

SOCIAL MEDIA EDITOR & DRONE REPORTER

California is home to Silicon Valley, Silicon Beach, and now — it appears — Silicon Sky. The state comes in No. 1 for having the most registered drones, both in the commercial and hobby space.

The Federal Aviation Administration on Wednesday released two databases of all registered commercial and hobby drones in the U.S., five months after announcing a rule that all owners of drones greater than 0.55 pounds need to register their aerial vehicles online with the government.

Sally French, MarketWatch

A heat map shows where most of the commercial drone users have registered.

View an interactive version of this map here.

In the commercial drone space, Menlo Park, Calif. takes the cake for having the most registered drones. Menlo Park, which has 176 registered drones, is one of the cities that makes up Silicon Valley and is home to Facebook Inc. FB, +0.42%   (which is working on drones of its own). It’s also home to startups such as drone delivery company Matternet and Skydio, which was founded by a team of researchers from MIT and Google’s drone team, and creates drones that are smart enough to react to and avoid obstacles like trees.

AFP/Getty Images

A drone by Matternet carries a piece of mail to demonstrate package delivery by drone to isolated villages.

Other areas topping the list include Maxwell Air Force Base in Alabama, as well as Los Angeles and its neighboring city Burbank, where crews are increasingly using drones to shoot Hollywood films.

Cities with the most registered commercial drones

Ranking City Number of users registered to operate commercial drones
1 Menlo Park, Calif. 176
2 Maxwell Air Force Base, Montgomery, Ala. 138
3 Los Angeles 83
4 San Diego 61
5 Austin, Texas 59
6 Burbank, Calif. 57
7 Houston 53
7 Atlanta 53
9 Miami 50
10 Portland 46
Source: Federal Aviation Adminstration

And if you’re looking for drones being used for hobby purposes, look to Houston. The city is No. 1 with 3,061 registered hobby drone users. But Houston also comes in the top 10 for having the most registered commercial drone users.

Dyan Gibbens, founder and CEO of Houston-based drone company Trumbull Unmanned, says she’s not at all surprised that Houston ranks so high for commercial drone use, given Houston’s strong energy sector.

“Houston is supportive of innovation, and when you look at oil and gas companies, they are really technology companies,” she said. “Drones make operations better, faster and safer.”

Trumbull Unmanned uses drones for mapping, inspecting and monitoring, primarily in the energy sector, and its clients include Chevron Corp. CVX, -0.21% and BP BP, -0.47% Using a drone for projects like a flare-stack inspection can cost about an order of magnitude less in time and money than using a ladder truck or scaffolding, Gibbens said.

“Particularly in oil and gas, safety is paramount at all times and the cost savings are amplified during a downturn, which we are in currently,” she said.

Cities with the most registered hobby drone users

Ranking City Number of users registered to operate hobby drones
1 Houston 3,061
2 San Diego 2,445
3 Austin 2,111
4 Los Angeles 2,104
5 Miami 2,047
6 Las Vegas 2,028
7 San Jose 1,955
8 Phoenix 1,799
9 San Antonio 1,775
10 Chicago 1,664
Source: Federal Aviation Adminstration

Nearly a half a million drone users have registered for hobby purposes since registration opened in December. And Goldman Sachs says the market is only growing. The consumer drone industry will grow from a $1.6 billion market in 2015 to a $3.3 billion market by 2020, according to a March 2016 Goldman report.

*Note that commercial drone operators must register each drone they operate. Hobby drone users must register themselves, so the number doesn’t factor in how many drones they actually have.

Sally French, MarketWatch

A heat map shows where most of the hobby drone users are registered. While California has the most registered hobby drone users, the eastern half of the U.S. dominates for most hobby drone users. Texas ranks No. 2, followed by Florida, New York, Pennsylvania and Illionois for having the most registered users.

View an interactive version of this map here.

From: http://www.marketwatch.com/story/this-is-the-no-1-city-where-americas-drones-are-flying-2016-05-18