If you follow a few simple guidelines, consumer drones provide a wealth of potential for amusement and artistic photographic expression. Although the US is one of the most restrictive nations when it comes to drone regulations, the guidelines for drug abusers are very simple to comprehend and follow. And setting everything up simply costs $5.
However, keep in mind that you are working as just a professional and thus are subject to higher standards the minute you take payment for your drone flights, such as by selling the pictures or videos you took. The most important of them is the need for a remote pilot license.
However, it’s simple to jump into the air legally if you keep that on the recreational side. Here are the answers to the most frequently asked questions about recreational drone flying in the US.
Can I lawfully fly my drone in the US?
Yes, but with limitations. The FAA Spending bill of 2018 created the most recent legislative framework for the agency to govern drones of all types in the US, including those used for commercial, government, and hobbyist purposes.
Where can I fly my drone legally?
Large areas of the US are drone-flyable with nothing in the way of administrative trouble. Drones are generally permitted to fly in most Class G airspace, which is outside the restricted region near airports (classes B, C, D, and E). Additionally, you may fly closer to the airport by submitting a brief online application through one of the many available, no-cost applications that interact with the FAA. (More about it is at the bottom.)
Are there laws about places I cannot fly in the US?
Yes. Even Class G airspace, which is referred to as “uncontrolled,” has regions where flying is either forbidden or limited. No matter what part of the airspace they are in, all national parks are designated as “no-drone zones.” During sports events, it is also prohibited to fly a drone above racetracks and stadiums. It’s also forbidden to fly over other locations, including military sites and federal prisons.
The free B4UFLY smartphone app from the FAA offers real-time maps that display the various categories of airspace and restricted zones, as well as specific warnings. Additionally, certain drone controller applications (like DJIs) have access to comprehensive data about flying limits. They will use a technique known as geofencing to stop the drone from flying in prohibited regions.
What rules/laws do I have to follow when I fly my drone in the US?
In the US, drone rules include limitations on both amateur and professional operators, even in uncontrolled airspace (although pros can apply for waivers of some restrictions). Among the most important needs is the drone:
- Less than 55 pounds in weight
- Fly at the height of little more than 400 feet.
- Fly during the daytime. Do not exceed 100 mph
- Maintain eye contact with the operator or a close observer.
- Give manned aircraft room to maneuver and keep clear of them.
- Not fly over commuters or driving automobiles,
- Avoid working from a moving car
- Not obstruct emergency response efforts
Additionally, you cannot be under the influence of drugs or alcohol. This can include prescription drugs that make it difficult for you to fly the drone safely.
Do I have to take a test to fly a drone?
One day, even for recreational purposes, you will need to pass a knowledge exam in order to operate a drone. However, the FAA hasn’t yet developed a test for hobbyist drone pilots. For the time being, it just requires that you abide by the fundamental guidelines we discussed before.
Does the FAA require that I register my drone?
A drone that weighs more than 0.55 pounds has to be registered. (That excludes a number of tiny consumer drones, such as the DJI Mavic Mini.) On the FAA website, registration fees are $5, takes a little while, and are good for three years. (On the FAA website, choose the “exception for recreational fliers” registration option.) You will get a number when you register, which you must attach to the exterior of the drone. You also get a UAS certificate, which you must have with you at all times while flying.
How can I get authorization to operate my drone close to airports?
The Low Altitude Approval and Notification Capability, or LAANC, online system that the FAA established in 2018 enables users to seek authorization to fly in class B, C, D, & E airspace near airports. Many businesses, such as Kittyhawk and AirMap, have free applications that let you submit a LAANC demand and get a response, often in a matter of seconds.