So, you just got your first drone and you’re eager to go out and start your first flight. It’s a pretty exciting thing! However, before you go outside to fly, there are some rules and laws you need to follow and be aware of before you do anything.
Even if you’re just flying for recreational purposes (no commercial intent), you have to follow these rules. Not doing so and getting caught could land you some hefty fines or even jail time. So, make sure you’re aware of all regulations before flight!
What Is Recreational Drone Flight?
Good question! Recreational drone flight is viewed much differently than commercial drone flight by the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration), so it’s important to know what the differences are.
For starters, a recreational drone pilot is someone who will not be paid or receive any other type of compensation for that flight. This means your flights cannot be performed as any type of service, whether it’s paid or unpaid, for any individual or company.
In general, the FAA says that you’re considered to be a recreational drone pilot if you fly your drone for fun, as a hobby.
What Are The Rules For Recreational Drone Flight?
Now that we have a basic idea of what recreational drone flight is defined as, we need to go over what the basic rules of flight are when it comes to recreational drone operation. This is the list given directly from the recreational fliers article from the FAA:
- Fly only for fun or recreation
- Follow the safety guidelines of a model aircraft community-based organization
- Fly at or below 400 feet when in uncontrolled airspace (Class G)
- Fly within visual line-of-sight, meaning you as the drone operator use your own eyes and needed contacts or glasses (without binoculars), to ensure you can see your drone at all times.
- Never fly near other aircraft.
- Never fly over groups of people, public events, or stadiums full of people.
- Never fly near or over emergency response efforts.
Keep in mind that these are just the basic rules when it comes to drone flight. If you’re interested in taking a look at the more advanced and in-depth rules laid out by the FAA, we highly recommend you take a look at the Part 107 operational waiver information.
Make Sure You Register Your Drone
Yes, even if you’re just flying for fun or as a hobby, you have to register your drone with the FAA if it weighs more than 0.55 pounds and less than 55 pounds. If you haven’t done this and need to, you can do so by visiting FAADroneZone. Once you’re on the website, click on the “Fly Model Aircraft under Section 336” part of the website.
It’s important to know that you must be at least 13 years old in order to register your drone. If you’re under 13 years old, you’ll have to have a responsible adult, preferably your parents or guardian, register your drone for you.
All registrations cost $5 and will last for three years. Once you’ve successfully completed the registration process, make sure you mark your drone with your registration number in the event that something happens and it gets lost or stolen.
Know Where You Can Fly
Knowing where you can and can’t fly is very important but something frequently overlooked by most people who have just started flying drones. It’s easy to overlook, as most people don’t know about no drone zones and restricted airspace – especially if you’ve never done any other types of flying before. However, ignorance isn’t going to save you from the law if you unknowingly do something you shouldn’t.
The best way to know if you can fly your drone from your currently location is to download the FAA’s safety app named B4UFLY (available on both the App Store for iOS & Google Play for Android). This app will easily help you to identify where you can and can’t fly.
It’s able to do stuff like give a status indicator that’s able to inform you about your current location or planned flight location. It also gives you information on what criteria is giving you the current status indicator, a planner mode for planning future flights, and informative, interactive maps with filtering options. B4UFLY is an app you absolutely have to have if you’re going to do any sort of drone operation.
Wrapping It Up
So, there you have it! That’s the basic rules and general recreational drone flight information you should be aware of before you take your new drone out for its first flight.
Remember, it’s extremely important to follow all of the FAA’s rules and laws, otherwise you could accidentally put other people’s health at risk and get a big monetary fine or jail time (depending upon what law(s) were broken). But, if you follow all of the laws laid out for you in this article and in the FAA’s articles then you’ll be good to go.