The Federal Aviation Administration is often portrayed as the major impediment to unmanned aerial vehicle expansion into civil government and commercial markets. This paper describes one company's record for successfully negotiating the FAA regulations and obtaining authorizations for several types of UAVs to fly commercial reconnaissance missions in civil airspace. The process and criteria for obtaining such authorizations are described. The mishap records of the Pioneer, Predator and Hunter UAVs are examined in regard to their impact on FAA rule making. The paper concludes with a discussion of the true impediments to UAV penetration of commercial markets to date.