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Follow The Law And Stay Conscientious When Flying Your Drone

by Eva Gilbert

So your Dji Phantom 3 from a site like http://dronesetc.com just arrived at your doorstep and you are anxious to pull your first drone out of its box and get that thing flying! Temper your excitement, however. Before you start to soar your drone you should know that flying a drone isn't like flying a little toy helicopter in your backyard. The FAA has rules and regulations regarding drone use, and you can get in serious trouble if you don't follow the rules set by the FAA. Before your first takeoff, you should know what you can and can't use your drone for, as well as the common guidelines set by the FAA regarding drone use.

You Have To Have A Special Permit For Commercial Use

If you bought your drone with the intention to use it to capture cool videos or photographs that you will later sell, you need to have a special license in order to do so. If you capture any photographs or videos by way of using a drone that are then sold, you need to file an exemption with the FAA. 

If you plan on using  a drone solely for commercial purposes, your best bet would be to get an airworthiness certificate from the FAA. These certificates will give you the right to use your drone commercially, as long as you follow the guidelines presented in the certificate and follow by the rules the FAA lays out for you. Depending on your purpose, the guidelines and rules will vary. Most likely the FAA will instate height at which you are allowed to fly your drone, the conditions in which your drone can be flown, for example clear days, and may require that you send them data on your drone usage. 

You Can't Fly Your Drone Anywhere You Wish

Even though your drone is unmanned and small, you still can't fly it anywhere you feel the desire to, or at any height. When flying your drone, it needs to be at an altitude of 400 feet or lower off of the ground, it must at all times be able to be seen by you, the operator, and you have to be 5 miles or more from an airport to stay out of trouble. 

The FAA also does not allow drone usage on military sites or in national parks. You may fly a drone almost anywhere else, however there are a few suggested guidelines and considerations that you should follow in order to be a conscientious drone user. 

Suggested Guidelines

Before you fly for the first time, you should keep a few of these suggested guidelines in mind in order to be safe and considerate when flying:

  • Keep your drone at a wide distance from people or vehicles, in order to prevent an accident. You don't want to accidentally harm someone if you end up crashing!
  • Do not operate your drone while drunk or under the influence of drugs. This can increase your chance of an accident. 
  • Avoid flying near things such as power stations, water stations, prisons or government facilities. You might damage an electrical or water station, and although there are no laws against flying drones over prisons or most government facilities, this doesn't mean that you can fly over them without trouble. Local law enforcement may issue a warning or confiscate your drone if you do this and they find you.
  • Before you fly over private property, check your local laws to see if you are allowed to pilot your drone through, for example, your neighbors backyard. 
  • Do not take photographs of people where they can reasonably expect privacy. For example, if your neighbor is out in their backyard gardening, don't fly your drone overhead and take snapshots of the occasion. 

These rules and guidelines are in place for a good reason, and it is likely that more and more rules and regulations regarding drone use will start to crop up as the use of personal drones becomes more commonplace. Keep your eye on new legislation, and remember to follow the rules currently in place so that your drone doesn't land you with a hefty fine!