According to stats provided by the Consumer Technology Association, an estimated 400,000 Americans received drones as gifts over the holidays. Unlike the daunting armed war-drones of yesteryear, these new en-vogue hobby planes are similar to remote-controlled children’s toys, and can be flown almost anywhere where there is open air and a decent view. Of course, no fun comes without a price—some of the deluxe models cost Santa upwards of $1,000.
Another cost that comes along with the tag on the box of these fancy adult toys is the set of rules the federal government has set in place for drone owners. A few days before Christmas, the Federal Aviation Administration decided to require all fliers of drones weighing between 0.5 and 55 pounds to sign up on their website. Before allowing any new mechanical birds to spread their robotic wings, every drone user must provide the FAA with their name, address, email, and a $5 fee.
The FAA provides a set of rules on their website. “When I fly a drone, I am a pilot,” states the caption of one colorful chart, which addresses drone safety. Rules include but are not limited to the following:
1. Fly your drone below 400 feet.
2. Follow FAA airspace requirements (you’ll need to look those up)
3. Do not fly near people, cars, over stadiums or sports events, or within 5 miles of an airport without first contacting the proper authorities.
4. Do not fly over forest fires.
5. Do not fly your drone while intoxicated.
In semi-local news, drones will no longer be allowed to fly in Washington’s state capitol campus in Olympia. According to the Department of Enterprise Services, an agency which supervises operations on the Capitol campus, the ban—which goes into effect on Feb. 11—was created after an unfortunate incident wherein an unmanned aircraft crashed into the window of an office building in the area.
The Capitol drone ban is similar to other laws being put into effect around the country, preventing drones from being operated in capitols and national parks. Michigan, Georgia, and Arkansas have already implemented no-drone laws for certain areas, and no drones can be flown legally in Washington, D.C.
To register yourself as a legal drone user, visit https://registermyuas.faa.gov. Fly safely!
By Kiki Genoa