If you are one of the many that have a brand new drone, welcome to the wide world of flight. Hope you are ready for the excitement of flying, and the magic that is aerial photography.
Before you take to the sky with your new quadcopter, or other multi-rotor flier, there are a few things you might want to know — actually, if you are in Canada, the United States, or many other countries with drone laws, there are things that you need to know. You will, likely, need to register your drone with the FAA before you fly. More info below, but please don’t head outside until you’ve made things legal.
Things to know before you fly
- You must register your drone with the FAA before you fly
- You must affix your drone registration number to your craft
- Coming soon: The FAA will require you to pass a test before you fly your drone
- You must acquire your Part 107 certificate if you are to receive any compensation for your flight
- You must follow all of the FAA’s airspace rules if you are flying outdoors
- Hobby flights have different requirements from commercial flights
- In the eye’s of the FAA, drones are aircraft. Period.
- You need to acquire authorization to fly in controlled airspace
- Drone Remote ID is coming soon, stay tuned for more details as they become available
How much does your drone weigh?
If your new flying toy weighs in at a total flight weight less than 0.55 lbs, you need to follow the basic guidelines below, but you are all but ready to step out the door and hit the sky. If your drone weighs more than this, the FAA has jurisdiction over your flight and you will need to register before you fly.
I will outline the main points below, but you can find everything you need at the FAA website for sUAS (small Unmanned Aircraft System.)
First up, for all the drones over 0.55 lbs, you will need to register with the FAA. This includes a $5 application fee and you must be at least 13 years of age to apply. Once your application is complete, you will immediately receive your registration number, which you will need to affix to your drone.
The process is much faster and easier than you might imagine, but you will need to complete it first to fly legally.
In addition to the below guidelines, the FAA provides an app, called B4UFly, that will show you on a map w
here you can and cannot legally fly. They’ve been fairly lenient about rule breakers in safe situations, but if you fly over crowds or around airports, be prepared to pay some serious fines, or land in jail if you hurt anyone.