A Quick Guide to Everything You Should Know Before Your First UAV Flight
I have to admit, patience has never been my strongest virtue, especially when it comes to trying out new tech. That’s why it was no surprise at all when I saw reports of people taking their drones out for a maiden voyage on Christmas morning — before following the proper protocol and getting them registered. It’s hard not to bust out your latest gadget and see what it can do, but UAVs aren’t as innocuous as an iPad — they’re small aircraft, and that means there’s a lot to know before you start those props for the first time.
There are Rules to Follow
Like so many other aspects of life, there are guidelines you must adhere to when flying your drone. Firsts thing first, you absolutely must register your drone before your first flight. There are some relatively sketchy companies out there offering to handle your drone registration for a price — but they’re best avoided. Registration through the FAA costs $5, and their web based process is easy enough to maneuver that you shouldn’t need help.
Then there are the FAA model aircraft operation safety guidelines to follow; the most important of which are:
- Fly below 400 feet and remain clear of surrounding obstacles
- Remain well clear of and do not interfere with manned aircraft operations
- Don’t fly within 5 miles of an airport unless you contact the airport and control tower before flying
Finally, there are numerous drone free zones within the U.S. Flying in any of them can lead to civil or federal charges, so be mindful of where they are. You can see a complete map here.
You Might Crash
It’s unlikely you were a natural the first time you drove a car, and it’s just as unlikely you’ll be able to fly a UAV the first time without some hiccups.
In order to have the best chance of not destroying your craft, start by reading the manual cover to cover, memorize how to initiate the drone’s “return home” system, and update your firmware. Next, enroll yourself in a drone flight training program and learn how to fly from the experts — you may be surprised to find that it’s not as simple of a process as you assumed. And before you do anything, it doesn’t hurt to invest in a little insurance, you know, just in case.
You May Upset Those Around You
Unfortunately, public opinion of UAVs can be surprisingly negative. The media seems to take particular delight in reporting exclusively on the small number of pilots who fly irresponsibly. If you’re ill-fated enough to be ambushed by an angry bystander while flying, here are some steps you can take to defuse the situation.
- Stay calm and collected.
- Land your craft before engaging in a conversation.
- Do not yell, become physically violent, or do anything else to escalate the situation.
- Know the facts about privacy laws.
- Wear a head-mounted GoPro or similar recording equipment as you fly. You never know when that footage may come in handy.
One of the best ways to improve public perception of UAVs — and their pilots — is by being a kind and thoughtful member of the community. UAVs are noisy; if the sound of your drone is disturbing someone’s peace and quiet, fly it elsewhere. If you’re flying over beaches, parks, or hiking trails, try to do it at a time when they are the least crowded. Most importantly, if someone doesn’t want to be filmed, don’t film them.
Flying will always be a joy if you do it responsibly. Follow the FAA guidelines, hone your skills, and mind your manners. Happy flying, friends!
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The new FAA regulations for UAS (drones) now requires you to register your aircraft by January 20, 2016 or face stiff penalties and fines. Drones (UAS) that weigh more than half a pound .55 pounds or 250 grams. For the first month the FAA is offering FREE registration waiver.
See more details about this “Register Your Drone Requirements” on the FAA website:
Drones that must be registered include:
3DR Solo (with gimbal)
3DR Solo (without gimbal)
DJI Inspire 1
DJI Inspire Pro
DJI Phantom 3 Advanced
DJI Phantom 3 Professional
DJI Phantom 3 Standard
Helimax Voltage 500
Parrot AR.Drone 2.0 (Elite Edition)
Yuneec Typhoon G Yes
Yuneec Typhoon 4K
Yuneec Typhoon Q500+
Hubsan x4 FPV
Hubsan x4 Pro
UDI U818A-1 Discovery HD
UDI U842 Falcon
Drones that do not need to be registered include the following:
Parrot Rolling Spider minidrone from Parrot
Sky Viper s670 Stunt Drone
Hubsan x4 camera
Hubsan x4 Nano
Hubsan x4 (H107L
Extreme Fliers Micro Drone 2.0
Air Hogs Millenium Falco
Helimax 1SQ No Helimax RC $100 0.07
Helimax 1SQ V-cam No Helimax RC $130 0.07
Helimax 1Si (with camera
Helimax 230Si (with camera)
Parrot Airborne Cargo minidrone
Parrot Airborne Night minidrone
Yuneec Typhoon Q500+
Yuneec Typhoon Q500 4K
For more information on this FAA requirement to register your USS Drones, visit the FAA website for updated information.
Know the rules and regulations for flying your Drone (UAS) Unmanned Aerial System.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is working to combat the safety risks posed by drones (UAS) – Unmanned Aerial Systems. There have recently been a large number of incidents and airports are taking measures to increase aircraft safety.
A new system is being considered to protect airports and will encompass protecting a radius of five miles of airports by using a sensor-based radio signal detection system that is currently in the testing phase.
Another option under consideration to tackle the problem could be a geo-fencing system that uses GPS and Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology to limit where unmanned aircraft can fly as the agency attempts to protect aircraft.
The FAA prohibits the use of unmanned aircraft within 5 miles of any airport within the U.S. without permission from air traffic control.
The FAA just recently announced new regulations requiring drone registration in an effort to keep track of the record ownership of drone aircraft. The mandatory online registration will apply to owners of small drones weighing more than 0.55 pounds and less than 55 pounds, including drones with on-board cameras.
FAA Announces Small UAS Registration Rule
For Immediate Release December 14, 2015
The FAA announces drone owners must register by February 19th, 2016. Registration is a mandatory requirement that applies to all aircraft.
Drones are expected to be the hottest selling Christmas Gift in 2015 and the FAA estimates thousands of drones will take the the skies.
Be sure to take our online drone course to learn the basics of how to fly your drone today.
The agency expects hundreds of thousands of new units to be purchased during the holidays. The FAA registration is so that UAS owners understand they are to operate the aircraft safely or face stiff fines and imprisonment.
Recently, The Federal Aviation Administration announced that all drone units weighing between 0.55 pounds and 50 pounds must be registered by February 19th, 2016.Drone owners who fly without proper registration after the above date will face stiff fines up to $27,500. There are also criminal penalties from $250,000 and up and or includes 3 years in jail.
The FAA registration is $5, but the FAA is waiving that for the first 30 days to help increase compliance.
The FAA says, “registrants will need to provide their name, home address and include an e-mail address. The online registration system does not yet support registration of small UAS used for any purpose other than hobby or recreation.
Once you complete the FAA registration, you will receive your Certificate of Aircraft Registration/Proof of Ownership a that will generate a unique identification number for the UAS owner, which then must be displayed on your drone.
Registration begins on December 21, 2015 for civilian pilots and hobbyists. Owners may register through a web-based system at www.faa.gov/uas/registration
Attack of the Drones! You have been warned.
Star Wars Episode VIII will shoot down any drones that are planning to invade the set and take unauthorized photos.
Drones are the hottest Holiday gift this year and many are gearing up to protect themselves again this threat such as Pinewood studios who is currently under preparation to stop any drones infiltrating the set to take unauthorized photos by taking to the skies to stop the snoopers.
There are a number of counter attacks being planned should a drone taking photos be encountered.
Rudy here, you know, the one with the red nose.
I’ve just about had it. All I ever hear about is drones, drones, drones. It’s bad enough, I only work once a year, and now Santa is seriously contemplating replacing us reindeer with commercial grade UAVs. The big guy has even been whispering to Mrs. Claus about going to The Largest Commercial Drone Conference and Exposition, InterDrone Las Vegas, at the Paris Hotel and Casino, September 7-9.
I’m sure when Santa attends some of the more than 100 classes, panels, and keynotes covering every facet of the commercial drone industry, he’ll be directing the elves to start making drones in the workshop, oh boy.
Sheesh, last year more than 2,800 people attended, and more than 95 of the industry’s leading vendors showed up. And this year they’re expecting many more. The drone industry is just exploding!
You can see what I’m talking about here.
What’s a reindeer to do? Their blinky red LEDs are even brighter than my nose. I think I’m just going to retire and take the kids to Cancun, because there isn’t going to be work for reindeers much longer.
…to be continued.