Hovering Legally: Key Things New Drone Owners Need to Know

Technology can’t be stopped yet what one does with the devices manufactured can be limited by the law. Flying drones have been on the market for some time and met with great interest by kids and adults. However, using a drone is not as simple as ordering it online, taking it out of the box, and watching it rise into the sky. Actually, if one is not savvy about the legalities, they can be met with a fine, or worse, have their drone taken from them.

Airport Vicinities

The FAA restricts drone owners from flying within five miles of an airport without contacting the facility. Such a rule makes it difficult for those who are traveling to other places. There is an app that reveals what airports are in the area. Even if you do find a contact number and try calling, it does not guarantee you’ll get an air traffic controller on the line or be granted permission to fly the drone.

No-Fly Zones

Particular areas, such as near federal facilities or within national parks, are considered no-fly zones, which means that under no circumstances can an owner fly a drone craft. It’s much better to research first to avoid penalties or possible confiscation.

Large Events and Emergencies

Other situations call for an analysis using common sense. For example, even though particular areas are not officially designated as no-fly zones, it is prohibited to use a drone. For example, outdoor sporting events do not permit the use of drones. Furthermore, emergency situations do not allow for air crafts. Don’t attempt to be a novice reporter and fly a drone in an area that requires police or emergency personnel.

Understood Lingo

A ‘model aircraft’ is a unmanned and capable of continuous flight. It is used for recreational or commercial purposes. A range of crafts, including radio-controlled airplanes and ‘copters,’ are considered as model aircrafts. For better clarity, the purpose of flight rather than the shape of the model determines the definition and legal ramifications.

Basic Rules

Once you’ve found a safe area to fly diligence is still warranted. For example, the FAA does not want drones flown above 400 feet. A controller must steer clear of all obstacles and keep their drone within sight and control at all times. Moreover, be mindful of the weight of the aircraft and attached camera and components; drones should not exceed 55 pounds. Of course, you need to ensure your aircraft does not disturb the peace or create a hazard for people and animals in the area.

Registered Drones

In 2015, the FAA required all ‘drones’ or unmanned aircraft systems be registered. Some models do not need registration, yet it’s best to assume yours does. You can go to the FAA site to read more about requirements.

Read Instructions

The government is not going to ensure whether you read the instructions to your drone, yet it is suggested. That way, it’s ensured that you don’t create a hazard to others and you don’t wreck your valuable possession. Since many models cost hundreds to thousands of dollars, it’s a wise decision to read the manual before your drone takes flight. It may be useful to get familiar with different models. Read a DJI Phantom 4 review online to know more about that craft. Furthermore, it’s suggested that new owners take flying lessons to learn best practices and how to avoid bad situations when flying a drone.

Commercial Usage

Drones are useful for commercials purposes in addition to those of entertainment. However, regardless of intent, you still need to register your drone and follow the FAA rules like all other parties. Just because you have a business purpose for flying your drone, such as using it for advertising property, it does not make it okay to fly without permission, fly an unregistered craft, etc.

Continued Regulation

As an owner of a drone, it’s your responsibility to pay attention to the evolution of regulation and limitations of use. For example, at one time there was no such rule about flying near airports, yet a number of irresponsible parties attempted to fly their drones near planes in flight, which posed a safety risk. After a number of such actions, the airport no-fly rule was put into effect.

Compromised Ethics

The rules and regulations associated to drone flying will continue to evolve. For example, regarding street photography, it’s known that if you can see it you can shoot it. However, what about a drone that is able to fly beside an apartment complex pool or a residential home’s window? Naturally, no one wants their privacy invaded or compromised.

Eric is known as a drone expert, building, designing and marketing quadcopters for all levels.

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