Top 5 For The New Drone Owner
The FAA website contains a lot of information about the use of drones, and it can be overwhelming for beginners. We encourage you to take some time to go through the FAA website to learn exactly what rules apply to your operations. We also would like to share our Top 5 rules to follow. We think these are the most important things you should know before putting your drone in the air.
1 – Keep your drone in sight. If you can’t see the drone, then you can’t get out of the way of other aircraft. A hobbyist recently crashed his drone into an in-flight military helicopter because the drone was not in line of sight. Click here to read the report. You do NOT want to be the drone operator that brings down a military aircraft, flight for life helicopter, crop duster, balloon, or other low flying aircraft. The collision with the helicopter occurred at 300 feet above the ground. The sky is filled with other aircraft at different altitudes, and you must be able to avoid them.
2 – Fly under 400 feet always. If you fly over the 400 foot limit, you are getting into the airspace where you can expect to see more aircraft. Safety should be your number one priority when flying, and flying near other aircraft is just not safe. An airplane probably won’t see a drone, so they never know it’s there, and won’t change course to avoid it. Staying under 400 feet decreases the chances of coming in contact with other aircraft.
3 – Do not fly over people. This is probably the biggest mistake newbies make. If the drone were to crash (which they do) while over people, it could cause injury, and/or property damage, that the drone operator can be liable for. In certain circumstances, the drone operator could be charged with invasion of privacy when flying over people, or property. Be respectful of the people on the ground. Not everyone appreciates drones, especially when they feel it is putting them in danger, or spying on them.
4 – Know where you CAN’T fly. The FAA recommends downloading their B4UFLY app to help you understand where you should, and shouldn’t fly. There are other apps such as Airmap, Hover, and others that will help you understand airspace, and where you shouldn’t be with your drone. You must know where airports, hospitals, power plants, prisons, schools, and other important facilities are to make sure you are not flying where you shouldn’t. These apps will also give you information about temporary flight restrictions which are extremely important to know about when flying. You should also do some research to see if your state, city, or town has any rules about drone use. State and city parks are sometimes off limits as are many national parks, so do some your homework for your specific location.
5 – Hobby vs Commercial. From the FAA website: “Recreational or hobby UAS use is flying for enjoyment and not for work, business purposes, or for compensation or hire”. Most people that are new to the drone world are hobbyist, and should be flying as such. If you want to start using your drone at work, or associated with your work, or even to make some extra money outside of work, then you must get your remote pilot certification and follow a new set of rules.
Have fun with your new drone, but do it safely, and responsibly. There are risks associated with flying drones, and the operator is ultimately responsible. The capability of a drone often exceeds what is allowed, so knowing the rules, and following them is the best way to stay in the air, and out of trouble.