You’ve probably heard a lot in recent years about FAA crackdowns on drone flight. Or you’ve heard of incidents where a drone got too close to an airplane. So what drones are legal? Where can you fly them? When can you fly them? Let’s find out!
Hobby level drones exploded in popularity in the late 2000s. At the time, there were few rules and regulations out there regarding drone flight. Subsequently, authorities were unclear on how to handle drones being flown near airports and in crowded cities. Over the past few years, the FAA developed a set of rules regulating drone flight. They are:
1) Drones weighing over .55lbs must be registered with the FAA. Pilots log into https://registermyuas.faa.gov/ to register. They provide their information and receive a registration number. Then, pilots put that registration number on any drones they have that weigh over .55lbs.
2) Drones cannot be flown over 400 feet high.
3) Drones cannot be flown within 5 miles of an airport.
4) Drones must be in your line of sight at all times.
5) Drones must weigh less than 55lbs.
Outside of federal regulations, local authorities have come up with their own set of rules. For example, here in New York City, the city government has to carefully regulate drones because there are so many people and buildings. Even in our green spaces! Drones are illegal to fly in the city and there are specific areas designated for drone flight. Check your local government’s website to see what the regulations are in your area.
Finally, there are standards of conduct within drone communities that pilots are encouraged to follow. Keeping away from people, animals, and property (like cars) is crucial. Don’t pilot your drone under the influence of alcohol. Also, don’t pilot on a windy day! The wind could push a drone out of range and the pilot could lose control. If you have a camera drone, don’t fly where other people have an expectation of privacy.
By following these rules and guidelines, you can enjoy drone flight with peace of mind!