Your drone has arrived at your doorstep, and you’re ready to take it out for its first flight. But before you head out the door, it’s important to understand the rules and regulations for flying drones.
You can probably get away with flying your drone at a low altitude in your backyard, but if you want to take your new toy out for a spin in public, you need to know the rules.
If you’re in the U.S., you’ll need to register with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and pay a $5 fee in order to legally fly your drone.
That $5 fee allows you to own and fly as many drones as you want for three years. Your registration will get you an FAA identification number, which you’ll need to display on your drone.
Keep in mind that not all drones need to be registered. If you’re flying a mini drone that weighs less than 8.8 ounces, you don’t have to worry about registering it.
Also, you can’t register a drone that weighs more than 55 pounds through the FAA’s online portal. If you happen to have a drone this heavy (which I doubt you do), you’ll need to file a paper registration application.
If you plan to fly your drone in public, you’ll need to follow one of two drone laws under the FAA.
If you want the option to fly your drone recreationally or commercially, you can fly under Part 107, the Small UAS Rule. You’ll first need to register your drone, but you’ll also need to obtain a Remote Pilot Certificate from the FAA (more on that shortly).
Here are the operating rules under Part 107:
Many of these rules are subject to waiver.
In order to obtain your Remote Pilot Certification and fly under Part 107, you must:
The test will cover the following subjects:
Once you’ve passed the exam, you can complete your application for your certificate online. You’ll need your Test Exam ID for this part.
Section 336 laws are for pilots who only want to fly their drones recreationally or for hobby purposes.
You’ll still need to register your drone with the FAA to fly under these laws, but you won’t have to obtain a Remote Pilot Certificate from the FAA.
Here are the rules under Section 336:
Now that you understand the drone laws, it’s important to understand where you can and cannot legally fly your drone in the U.S.
The FAA has imposed many types of airspace restrictions that affect UAS flights.
UAS flights are prohibited in:
It’s also important to note that some places may be No-Drone Zones, which prohibits the use of drones in these areas for any purpose.
Where you can and can’t fly your drone will vary from one city and state to the next. But the Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA) offers more than 2,500 flying sites across the country. Their interactive map allows you to find places to fly your drone safely and legally.
Most of the rules and regulations for drone flying are common sense. Keep your UAS at 400 feet or lower, make sure it’s always within sight and don’t fly in places you’re not supposed to fly.
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