Taking your drone out for a spin is exciting, especially when you are still learning how to operate it properly and are still experimenting with navigation. While this may be done for fun, there are rules to follow in every state to ensure everyone’s safety. Rules for drone flying are designed to protect not only yourself and passers-by, they are also set to protect commercial airplanes, buildings, and other properties.
Here are some beginner tips on drone flying rules to avoid getting into trouble.
Must-Follow Drone Flying Rules
Register your drone if necessary
Smaller drones don’t need to be registered, but the larger ones, which are often easier to get up in the air and are more commonly used, should be operated by a person with a license. In some states, drones that weigh 0.55 to 55 pounds should be registered with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). It only costs about $5 per model and will be good for three years, but you will have to renew your drone license for every new drone you own. If you plan on giving your used drone to someone else, you officially have to transfer the title as well.
The registration process, which can be done online, is easy and cheap, so there is no reason for you not to do so. Remember that flying an unregistered drone is a crime and could get you sent to jail.
Respect the set height rules
In flying your drone, the most important thing to look out for is the height of your drone in the sky. While it is generally okay to fly a drone up high in the sky, there are limitations. In fact, you need to keep your drone below 400 feet off the ground to keep it from getting in the way of planes and other items in the sky.
It is also advised that your drone be always in your sight, where you can get a clear shot from your device, and be able to see it without assistance from binoculars and other devices. In case of drone flyaways, you may also want them to be relatively close to the ground to avoid large damages in case it crashes.
Avoid people and properties
The fast speed of your drone’s rotors and blades could be dangerous to anyone, which is why it is recommended that drones are at least 25 feet away from people or properties to minimize the risk of damages and to ensure that the drone does not get in anybody’s way. However, as per height requirements, the drone should be visible enough where it can still be distinguishable in the sky.
Today, GPS tracking makes it easier to find lost drones in case they fly away or end up in crowded, public places, but even these cannot be too helpful when you paint a drone to camouflage its color. This practice is considered a taboo for amateur drone pilots.
Do not fly in restricted areas and in difficult conditions
Drones are designed to be light, so avoid flying your drone in difficult weather conditions. Do not fly it in extreme weather where there is strong rain, wind, or snow. This makes it harder for the drone to move smoothly and could even be cause for accidents.
As per rules for drone flying and photography, you are not allowed to let your drone in areas such as power stations, government-owned buildings, correctional facilities and military bases, sports stadiums, venues that could house thousands of people at a time, as well as heavily traveled roads and highways. Drones are also not allowed within five miles from airports unless the airport and its control tower is contacted beforehand to avoid traffic problems.
There are different laws per state, so you may have to look into them every time you go to a new place with your drone to be sure to follow the rules as stipulated.
Respect other people’s privacy
Drones are usually used with cameras to take photos from the bird’s-eye view without needing a stuntman to climb a ladder for you. However, before you start taking photos of people in public areas, you may want to let them know and ask permission from them first. In rural areas, it is also very easy to breach another person’s property by flying the drone over fields — this could be considered an invasion of privacy, and owners of these properties can effectively sue you if you breached their properties via drone without their permissions.
These are basic rules for drone flying. Remember these to avoid having problems with your drone in the long run, and ensure that they don’t get in the way of other people’s lives and properties.
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