So, you bought your first drone, and now you can’t wait to take it out for a test flight. First off, congratulations on your purchase. UAVs are very fun, and we’re sure you’ll have plenty of enjoyable moments flying yours. However, before you set off to do that, it might be a good idea to take a look at this simple guide to drone rules and regulations in the US.
Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) put down some guidelines and rules about what you can and can’t do with your drone. It pays off to know your rights and the rights of those around you before you embark on your first flight. And that’s what we’ll talk about today.
Flying for fun or money
The rules that apply to you and your drone will be different depending on how you use it. If you’re going to do it just for fun and to share videos and pictures with your friends and family, you can be on your way in less than an hour. You only need to pay a registration fee and pass the knowledge test. Chances are that you’ll do this without any issues. And when you do, you can set off to some of the best places to fly a drone in America carelessly.
On the other hand, if you’re planning to make money with your drone, things will be a bit more complicated for you. The exam you need to take will be more serious, and you’ll have to receive Part 107 certification. But when you’re done with it, you’ll be able to do whatever you want with what you record. Sell your images and videos, film aerial videos of weddings, take pictures of real estate, or anything else people want to pay you for.
Register your drone
If your UAV weighs over 8.8 ounces or 250 grams, you’ll have to register it at FAA. For the nominal fee of $5, you’ll get an identification number, and you’ll be able to own and fly as many drones as you like. Of course, you’ll have to put the ID number you get on the exterior of your drone. And for that, you can use a label maker or printable stickers.
With that said, not every consumer drone on the market needs to be registered. DJI Mavic Mini and the Mini 2 are both popular models that have takeoff weights of 249g. So, the registration rules don’t apply to them.
However, that doesn’t mean that you don’t have to follow the rules of the air. If a company like Triple 7 Movers Las Vegas asks you to make them a commercial with your lightweight UAV, you still need a Part 107 certificate to be able to do it.
The rules you need to know about
As we mentioned the rules of the air, now is a good time to explain to you what those are. So, here they are:
- Fly at or below 400 feet;
- Keep your drone where you can see it;
- Don’t fly in restricted airspace;
- Don’t get close to other aircraft (no flying near airports);
- Flying over groups of people is forbidden;
- Don’t fly over stadiums or sporting events;
- Don’t fly near emergency response efforts (fires, floods);
- Flying under the influence isn’t allowed.
As you can see, most of these drone rules and regulations in the US are common sense that you can’t do without if you want to fly. However, there are more things you need to know about than these FAA rules. You should know that you can’t fly a drone anywhere within the confines of the National Parks. Also, flying around or in Washington DC is forbidden.
When you’re confident enough that you know the rules, you can dedicate half an hour of your time to take the TRUST test. It’s nothing you need to worry about as it’s free, you do it online, and you can’t fail it. And once you’re done with it, you’ll get a PDF certificate that you can keep on your phone or print out. Just be sure to always have it on you when flying.
Learn to deal with conflict
Although the rules are simple enough that you can quickly get them into your head, as a drone pilot, you have to know how to deal with other humans, as well. Even if you take your time and learn how to safely operate a drone in urban areas, someone still might think that your UAV is a perfect target for practicing rifle skills. So, if someone else damages your drone, what should you do?
Well, the first thing is to call the police, of course. However, it’s much better if you can avoid reaching that situation altogether. Try to be friendly and talk to people about what you’re doing. Don’t be afraid to show them the feed you’re getting on your tablet or phone. Some people may feel like you’re spying on them when they see you flying around them. However, seeing a wide-angle video that you’re recording should calm them down.
Of course, not everyone you meet will be of mild temper. And if you encounter such a scenario, be aware of where you’re standing. If you’re on your own land or public property, you’re fine. However, if you’re on private property, the situation doesn’t work in your favor. The property owner can ask you to land your UAV and leave the premises. And if they do so, you should comply.