Top Tips for the New Drone Owner

Recent headlines demonstrate how drones can support public safety and government operations. The Los Angeles Fire Department, for example, used drones for the first time in the Skirball fire that wreaked havoc on Southern California earlier this month. The drones offered real-time situational awareness – allowing responders to see what was happening and change their tactics to avoid hazards. Across the world in Dubai, police are using drones to monitor traffic. Drones truly have made a worldwide impact – and these are just a couple of examples. In addition to providing a critical safety role, the commercial drone market is growing. In the midst of the holiday season, drones make for fun gifts for the aerial hobbyist.

While drones are sure to provide hours of entertainment, new drone owners should be aware that there are some basic guidelines, offered by the FAA, that will ensure safe operation.  As you peruse the lists of the best drones to buy, make sure to look into the safety guidelines as well. Here are some of the basic rules and regulations that the new drone owner must follow:

You Must Register Your Drone

The drone registration requirements have been revived. If your drone weighs between .55 pounds and 55 pounds, it must be registered. According to a recent article in Time magazine:

“A relative footnote in the National Defense Authorization Act, which was signed into law today, the new regulation requires that drone owners register their unmanned aerial vehicles before taking to the skies. You can register your new drone on the FAA’s drone Unmanned Aircraft System website.

Know Before You Fly

Here are a few safety tips (and requirements!) to review before you fly your new drone – straight from the FAA’s website:

  • Fly your drone at or below 400 feet
  • Keep your drone within your line of sight
  • Respect privacy
  • Never fly near other aircraft, especially near airports
  • Never fly over groups of people, public events, or stadiums full of people
  • Never fly near emergencies such as fires or hurricane recovery efforts
  • Never fly under the influence of drugs or alcohol

No Drone Zones

Did you know that the FAA has a list of locations where drones are forbidden? The FAA recently announced an expanded list of restricted locations, mostly laboratories, where drones cannot fly within 400 feet. When you go out for a day of fun, make sure you’re not close to any of these locations:

  • Hanford Site, Franklin County, WA
  • Pantex Site, Panhandle, TX
  • Los Alamos National Laboratory, Los Alamos, NM
  • Idaho National Laboratory, Idaho Falls, ID
  • Savannah River National Laboratory, Aiken, SC
  • Y-12 National Security Site, Oak Ridge, TN
  • Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Oak Ridge, TN

Still unclear on drone requirements? The FAA offers excellent resources: https://www.faa.gov/uas/. If you’re lucky enough to get a new drone this holiday season – enjoy and be safe!

 

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