See the stunning images in the 4th annual International Drone Photography Contest
The modern unmanned aerial vehicle in the U.S. can track its roots back to the Civil War and has been heavily influenced by innovations in Israel.
In this May 1862 photo from the Library of Congress, the Union balloon Intrepid, the largest used in the Civil War, is inflated in Virginia. The balloons, manned by Confederate and Union aeronauts, floated above a field of battle. The first time that warring armies sent their air ships aloft simultaneously over U.S. soil was on June 27, 1862, when two Union balloons — the Intrepid and the Washington — floated a few miles west of Richmond while their Southern counterpart, Gazelle, floated over the capital of the Confederacy. The balloons have been cited as among the earliest predecessors of the modern drone.AP