Recreational flyers enjoying hobby drones make up the majority of us drone pilots out there. Day six of the FAA Drone safety awareness week is for us! The week runs from November 4th through 10th, 2019. Drone safety is in our hands, you know this, you control your drone and ensure it is handled safely. From the FAA’s perspective, there is more to a safe flight than just making sure you don’t crash, they have many rules and regulations for drones, all designed around safety for other air traffic, as well as for people on the ground below.
Day six of the FAA’s Drone safety awareness week is for recreational flyers.
The old rules were a little more precise, these new rules are a little harder to decipher, at least at first glance. The basics remain the same, altitude is restricted, keep the drone within visual line of sight, be aware of where you are flying and more.
Do not fly over top of people
This one is easy, if your drone is going to fall out of the sky, it best not be in a position that it would land on top of people. The rule is more precise than this, stating that you cannot fly over people that are not involved in the flight operations. If you have a group of people that you have pre-briefed on the flight operation, that all know what the drone is up to, where it is expected to fly and you’ve informed of a protocol if the drone should fall, then you can fly over them.
Give way to manned aircraft
You do not have the right of way in the sky. It is your legal responsibility to ensure your craft does not interfere with the flight of any manned aircraft. There are no exceptions or waivers for this rule, unless you are flying for the military.
Stay away from emergency responders
Emergency situations are stressful times for those involved, the last thing anyone needs is to feel their privacy is being violated by a flying camera, or worse, to have a rescue helicopter have to divert. Flying your drone around an emergency can literally make the difference between a life or death on the ground. Beyond that, there are states where it is illegal to film such things as law enforcement in action and so forth. We can discuss the merits of that another day, for now, be a good neighbor, keep your drone away from an emergency situation.
Do not fly under the influence
Your state may have legalized marijuana, and you are more than legal to grab an alcoholic beverage, if that’s your thing, but neither should be consumed before a drone flight. Any substance you may take, including prescription medicines, that may influence your ability to fly safely should not be taken before a flight, and if you happen to have already consumed, practice patience, fly another day. Do not drink and fly!
Do not fly over stadiums during events
The safety aspect of this is simple, if you can’t fly over any person not involved in your operation, flying over thousands of people is a really bad idea. The legal aspect of this is something you can take up with the major sports leagues, but it is fairly common practice to ensure people are not filming events.
Pass an aeronautical exam
Wait, what?!? Don’t worry, the test is not live yet, but the FAA has been mandated to create drone pilot licensing. We will help you through, we will have some practice tests and educational material to help you pass the tests, but for now, get out there and fly with just your registration.
We like the idea of clarity as yo community based organizations. We hope that does not restrict flight for long-time hobby pilots, but for the new drone pilots on the scene, we hope it better explains what is required of them to fly safe and legal.
There is a lot to flying a drone legally. Safety starts with the small things, like ensuring your craft is ready for flight, planning to fly in a safe place and always making the effort to fly in a safe manner. That last thing takes some practice, you have to fly to get good at flying. As for choosing your location to fly, apps like Airmap are key, they offer detailed airspace information and helpful guidance for your hobby or commercial operations.
Before we wrap up this series, here is a nice long list of resources from us and from the FAA to help you learn and grow as a drone pilot:
- Do I need to register my drone?
- Register your drone here
- Where can I fly?
- Where can I not fly?
- Drone Safety Awareness Week resources from the FAA (pdf)
- Drone rules explained Part 1
- Drone rules explained Part 2
This wraps up the FAA’s Drone safety awareness week for 2019. There are changes coming, we’ll be here for you as they arrive. We hope that you have not been scared off of drones, the rules really are easier to manage and follow than it sounds. This does not change that there are rules, and many safety procedures and guidelines to follow — some feel like cash-grabs, but most are logical safety measures we can get behind.
Catch up on all of the FAA’s safety week content
Day 1: Public Safety and Security
Day 5: Education and STEM
Day 6: Recreational Flyers
Day 7: Recreational Flyers
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