All pumped up for that first drone flight? Here are some things you might want to consider ASAP, before you make any blunders and get into trouble.
Register your drone
It is official. Starting from Dec 21st 2015, if you are a US citizen living in the US and are 13 years of age or older, the FAA requires you to register your drones if it weighs between 0.5 lbs and 55 lbs. If you are under 13, a person who is of that age or older will have to do the registration for you. You can follow this link. Failure to do so may lead to civil penalties. The process for online registration requires a credit or debit card and will cost you $5. The first 30 days for registration is free.
After the process, you will receive a registration number. This number must be attached to the drones you own. Refer to this infographic on how to label your drone. Note that your registration isn’t permanent, it will only remain valid for 3 years and you will be required to renew it.
You can access the FAA online portal to access information regarding your drone registration and make updates if required, after the registration process.
Adhere to the FAA regulations and stay out of no fly zones
Before you take off, you might want to read up the FAA regulations and guidelines for flying your craft (Don’t worry, it’s quite short).
If you live in or near an urban setting, avoid flying your drone in populated areas. This would also include populated parks, schools and churches. You do not want to crash into a person, hurt them and get into legal trouble. Do not shrug off your drone as a mere toy or a flying camera. It is a machine that can cause serious injury and death if not used properly.
Especially avoid flying near airports. There are massive restrictions for this (as there should be) and you could land into severe trouble. Stay away from power stations, prison facilities and military bases as well.
In order for maximum safety, not only to protect against any potential hazards but also to make sure you don’t lose your drone , it important to make sure your drone stays within your line of sight and not above 400 feet from the ground and this holds true even if your drone has an FPV camera feature.
Spying on your neighbour with your drone’s camera or recording a private property can also get you into trouble. It is important to respect others’ privacy as you would expect yours to be!
Finally, you might want to check out this map for drone no-fly zones (USA) and this map (global). If you live around any of these marked areas, make sure you stay away from them for your drone flying adventures.
Check environmental conditions
As with anything, there is an ideal time for drone flying. Just like you would rather stay indoors when it is raining than play baseball outside, it is wise to stay put inside, hugging your drone and fantasizing of the adventures you will have with it than actually head out with it when it is notably windy outside.
Hobby drones are typically light and even the lightest of winds can make it noticeably more difficult to control your drone. Even if your drone has all the stability, altitude and course correction features, you might want to ask yourself if it is really worth the risk of damaging the craft. Remember that the more expensive your drone is, the more expensive it gets to fix it in case of any damage.
To summarize, the best time for flying would be during the day, with clear weather and calm winds.
Make sure what you are doing with your drone requires a permit
Not all flying endeavours are the same in the eyes of the law. Flying a drone as a hobby is one thing, but if you are an individual or a company seeking to fly drones for commercial purposes, like the Amazon’s ambitious drone delivery, things are a little bit different.
Make sure that if you are planning on filming a short movie or anything that would be used for a commercial project wherein you’ll be gaining profits, you have applied to the FFA, informing them of your upcoming project. This holds true for any commercial project and not limited to photography and video. Know Before You Fly is an excellent resource which is also endorsed by the FAA for any further information you’d require in this matter.
That’s all folks! Hope that helps. Make sure to drop a comment below if you have any questions or suggestions.