The use of advanced RC aircraft has revolutionized the inspection, survey, photography, and many other industries, with consumers benefiting from reduced prices and increased safety. Like it or not, drones are here to stay, and breaking news, the world is not flat either. The term "drone" is an overblown term given to our new professional class of flying plastic and silicone cameras to add a little drama to the story, which are officially termed small unmanned aerial systems (UAS). However, valid safety and privacy concerns have emerged due to these new capabilities, volume of sales, and lack of public knowledge over their safe/appropriate use. The focus of this blog is to assist in the safe use of small UAS into our airspace, dispel a few myths, and raise public awareness.
Check out this story By Kelly Baumgarten | Posted: Tue 10:27 PM, Jul 12, 2016
Many concerns have been raised by the anti drone proponents, such as terrorism, voyeurism, and even property rights, but with little perspective on the facts. For instance, RC aircraft hobbyists have been flying large fixed wing aircraft since the 70's that could drop a much more serious bomb payload than 99.9% of the current high tech drones, and it is already a felony in the state of Florida for anyone to record you, in any way, where you have a reasonable expectation of privacy. That being said, it is no less legal for a drone operator to take pictures of the public beach that you are sitting on than any person with a ground based camera. However, a line is drawn when a drone operator risks public safety or violates the privacy rights of others.
The FAA has established reasonable laws governing both hobbyists and commercial pilots alike, and I strongly recommend that everyone embraces this first set of rules (almost no difference from the 1970's rules) so that we can leverage this technology to keep aerial drone service fees from skyrocketing.
* No flying at night (+- :30 sunset, sunrise)
* Maximum Altitude of 400'
* Operator must have visual line of sight of the aircraft at all times (no FPV without a spotter)
* No flying over people without their consent, or overhead protection
* Manned Aircraft always have the right of way regardless of what their doing
* No flying near forest fires
* No flying within 5 miles of an airport without clearance from the aircraft control tower or operator
* No flying over 100MPH
* No reckless flying that could injure people or damage property
* No flying over private property without permission from the owner (Florida Law)
* No flying under the influence of drugs and alcohol.
We recommend downloading the free FAA B4UFLY Smartphone App
If you are an RC hobbyist or professional, please note that safety and respect are key to your continued enjoyment/profit, and your right to fly is secondary to federal and state laws. We strongly recommend practicing in an open public or lawful private large open area to get comfortable with your aircraft's controls prior to flying around obstacles, people, or low flying aircraft such as helicopters. Additionally, please note that most drone apps log your flight locations and you will probably get caught if you're flying dangerously.
Please remember that most off the shelf drones systems, while generally reliable, do not meet the same aircraft safety standards/testing as a manned aircraft. Furthermore, most drones are not weather resistant and components can fail from environmental conditions, causing the drone to fall, so never assume that your drone will not fall on people, or that you will be able to move it from the known flight path of a manned aircraft in an emergency when it disconnects.
If you are an unwilling participant (drone hovering over your head), victim of voyeurism, or witness a drone flying at night, you should attempt to locate the operator and voice your concerns, and when this fails, get video or photos of the aircraft, then contact local law enforcement, or the FAA directly. Additionally, please note that most drone operators probably do not even realize that they are doing anything wrong, as the operator in the story linked above was only 15.