If you are beginning to think that drones are going to be the next big thing, then you are too late. They already are! It is difficult to estimate just how many drones have already been sold in the US so far, but according to the FAA’s Rich Swayze: “The talking point is there will be a million drones under Christmas trees” this year. Now that’s a lot of drones!
Fortunately for those of us who will likely be innocent bystanders to those practicing and honing their skills with these UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles), the FAA (Federal Aviation Authority) have got their act in gear and have been proactive, as opposed to reactive, in pushing through legislation which came into effect on the 21st of this month to have drones weighing between 250g and 25kg registered, along with the pilots themselves. However, there will be no guarantee that accidents won’t happen, as can be seen with the near miss of a camera-carrying commercial drone earlier today that nearly cut Marcel Hirscher’s slalom ski run short!
But while we have these new regulations regarding drone flying, there is still plenty of room for helpful tips on what would be a sensible and safe approach to drone flying. We have come up with our top 5 tips, a few of which match with the FAA, but not all. So how do we compare with what you feel is important?
- When you use a drone for the first time, don’t take yourself off to the local park or anywhere else where there is likely to be other people. Go somewhere where you will be alone and not be likely to cause any harm. Start with close control, not flying off at a distance, and slowly grow your skills over time. No matter the size of your drone, you are flying a ‘missile, and one which could cause severe injury if it hit someone. Don’t spoil your enjoyment, or someone else’s stroll, by being overambitious with your flying skills.
- Once you feel you are sufficiently proficient at flying your drone, be respectful of other people and animals when you do venture further afield. Do your utmost to fly your drone somewhere there will be very few people. Avoid flying it near dogs or livestock and never ‘buzz’ another person. Drones are going to be around for a long time, so don’t give drone fliers a bad reputation by flying yours in an inconsiderate or irresponsible manner.
- Never lose sight of your drone. If you can’t see it, you can’t accurately control it. This is one of the FAA’s regulations and has to be adhered to.
- Do not exceed an altitude of 400ft. If you’ve ever been to New York, then that’s about a third the way up the Empire State Building. However, the ability to even fly that high will depend on the type of drone and RC gear you are using.
- Do not be tempted to fly your drone near historic landmarks or monuments, around crowded stadia, or near airports. The FAA regulations brought into effect in June last year state that it is against the law to fly a drone within a radius of 5 miles of any airport. When you consider the damage a 15lb drone could do if sucked into the blades of a jet engine, you can understand why public safety is paramount in such an environment.
Let’s hope that with all these new drone enthusiasts that will be out flying for the first time this Christmas we won’t be reading anything we don’t want to see in the papers soon afterwards.