You just bought your first drone and you are so excited to get that bad boy out of the box and chase the dog around the yard. Before you do that, you need to be aware of the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) rules that were put into place to safely fly drones and any other remote controlled aircraft in the United States.
If your aircraft is heavier than 0.5 pounds you must register it with the FAA. Most of the smaller drones are going to be exempt from this rule but if you are flying something as big as a DJI Phantom P3 (which weighs a little over 8 pounds) you must register it. The registration only costs $5 and can be done here. Keep in mind that if you don’t register your drone and get caught flying it you can be fined up to $27,500. It isn’t worth getting into trouble over a $5 registration so you should do it now if you haven’t already.
Once you register your drone, you will be given a unique registration number which you will have to mark on your drone or aircraft. The identification can be affixed to the battery compartment via a sticker or written with a sharpie. The registration is good for 3 years and after that period you will have to renew your registration.
Basic Rules and Regulations
You will need to visit the FAA website for a more detailed version of the rules and regulations for flying drones, but here are a few of the basics that you will need know.
- Drones must be flown no higher than 400 feet and stay clear of surrounding buildings and structures.
- You must keep a visual line of sight of the aircraft at all times. Never fly your drone blindly or where you can’t see it.
- Never ever fly your drone near or in the vicinity of manned aircraft such as commercial planes or airports. If you do, you are going to end up in a world of trouble and who wants that?
- You must stay at least 5 miles from the nearest airport. If you have legitimate business there, you need to contact the airport and get the proper permission before you do.
- Never fly your aircraft around or near large public gatherings such as stadiums or schools.
- You are not permitted to fly an aircraft larger than 55 pounds.
- Don’t be stupid or careless when you fly your drone. Don’t peep in windows or chase people or animals and be respectful.
- New To Drones? Familiarize yourself by reading a comprehensive drone buyers guide.
Use Common Sense
Most of the rules are common sense types of things and you can save yourself a lot of grief by abiding the rules. People don’t take kindly to those who fly drones or quadcopters close to them and think that you are spying on them. There have been countless news stories about drones that were shot down because they were flying over private property or houses. Don’t be that guy (or girl) that does stupid stuff like that. Keep it clean and have a great time, but also respect people’s space.
Flying a quadcopter can be loads of fun if you follow the simple but common sense rules. Make sure that you register your drone with the FAA and use your head when flying around people and public buildings, especially around airports and government facilities. There is nothing like a trip to the police station to kill a fun day of drone flying!