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Things to Know Before Flying Your Hobby Drone

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Drones are rapidly becoming the new hobby craze with a giant leap in sales during the holiday season. This fancy new gadget takes the idea behind the remote control car and puts it in the sky; and added quite a bit more technology. There are many different types of drones for a slew of different uses including uavs in the military. Many hobby drones are cheaper, smaller, and have much more basic controls than their professional counterparts. No matter what type of drone you have or the your intended use for it, there are a few things to know about this relatively new technology before you take to the skies.

Registration/Permits

First off, you’ll need to register your drone before you fly it outside of your home if it weighs more than 0.55 pounds. This is a relatively new requirement and has been in place since December 21st, 2015. There is a $5 fee in order to register but it’s a small price to pay in order to avoid the criminal penalties that include a fine up to $250,000 and three years in prison. If you plan on using your drone to make money you will need a permit. Many drones are used for filming, mapping, or surveying and in order to do that you’ll need to apply to the FAA for a permit. However, if you plan on flying your drone strictly as a hobby and not for profit then you don’t have to worry about getting a permit.

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Laws

Drones are a relatively new phenomenon popping up all over the world and because of this many laws haven’t quite caught up. However, drone laws are popping up nationally and statewide all the time. For this reason, you’ll need to keep up on drone legislation in your particular area. There are some regulations released by the FAA including:

  • Max flight of 400 feet within sight
  • Follow FAA airspace requirements
  • No flying directly over people, stadiums, or sporting events
  • No flying near emergency response efforts or aircrafts
  • No flying under the influence

There are many other state and county specific regulation to drones that have to do with privacy, hunting, and safety. In Alabama, for instance, you cannot use a drone to harass a hunter or fisherman, in Tennessee drones cannot be used to intentionally conduct surveillance, and in Wisconsin weaponizing a drone is a felony.

Safety

Being mindful of drone safety is extremely important for you, those around you, your belongings, and your drone. Drones can be tricky to fly and it’s pretty easy to damage it in the process of learning how to fly it. Some drones can be pretty pricey so the process of learning the art of flight can cost a pretty penny. Be mindful of your flight area and follow these drone safety precautions:

  • Do not fly in adverse weather conditions
  • Do not fly near or over people
  • Keep your drone away from pets and other animals
  • Follow the FAA flying regulations

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Controversy

There has been some controversy surrounding the use of drones, mostly due to the lack of legislation involving this new technology. There have been instances with the misuse of drones in the news including a drone in Manhattan crashing into a skyscraper, a man attempting to fly his drone over the White House fence, and many other FAA violations. Many people have a concern over privacy and the airspace over their home being compromised by drones with camera attachments. Fortunately legislation has put strict privacy laws in place regarding this concern. As long as you pay attention to regulations and pay attention to safety measures, your flight should go smoothly without the concern for regulation violations.

Capability

Knowing your drone is your best bet for flying correctly, being a responsible pilot, and getting the most out of your drone. Some small drones are pretty simple machines created just for the joy of flying. Some range from small quadcopters that fit in the palm of your hand to large machines that you can easily fly around your backyard. Other more advanced drones, however, have a ton of cool capabilities such as DJI Phantoms which have professional, advanced, and standard designs.

Their designs involve long range, Wi-Fi remote control, 12MP photos and 2.7K-4K video. Be realistic about your flight goals and the type of hobby you’d like to get into. If you’d like to take photo and video then you’re better off spending the money, if you’d rather just fly around for fun in your yard you might just consider an easier model.

The world of hobby drones is becoming vaster by the day. Pilots are becoming more accustomed to their us drones, learning advanced options, seeking out classes, and following regulations to protect them as well as others. Drone users belong to a whole subculture of pilots that enjoy learning the skills to drone flight and being able to see things from a new perspective. Just remember before your first flight to get registered, know the laws in your area, fly safe, know the concerns, and know your drone.

By Chelsy Ranard

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