Look up in the sky and you’re as likely to see a drone zipping overhead, as you are the trail of passenger jet. As pop culture explodes the drone craze, it’s only a matter of time before you strap on a pair of goggles and experience the thrill of flying with your finger tips. Imagine capturing an aerial shot of the Golden Gate Bridge on your lunch break or flying FPV (First Person View) at 50MPH through the redwoods. The possibilities of what you can accomplish with your drone are almost endless, but many pilots have upturned their lives losing everything. Here are 9 quick tips to keep you out of trouble when flying your drone. Image: Cnn.com
1) Bad call # 1 – Flying Over Crowds
One opportunistic drone pilot in Marblehead, Mass. struck two spectators while flying over the town’s Memorial Day Parade. Luckily for the pilot and bystanders, there were no serious injuries. Safety should be your primary concern when flying. Crashes, radio interference and mechanical failures are going to happen. Don’t ever fly over crowds of people, especially crowds that are unaware of the drone’s presence.
2) Don’t Drink And Fly
Really? Yes, really! Remember the off-duty government intelligence employee who lost control of his drone over the White House at 3 a.m. The inebriated pilot thought it was a good idea because he had a little too much to drink. It’s never a good idea to get behind the controls of any vehicle, radio controlled or not, after having a few too many.
3) You Best Check Yourself Before You Wreck Yourself – Check your equipment before you fly!
Limping your drone into the sky when you’re aware of a known problem is a bad idea. Spend the time and invest in the necessary measures to ensure your drone is in proper working order. Take the extra time to ensure that your batteries are fully charged before taking flight. A partially charged battery won’t keep you up in the air very long and having your drone fall out of the sky has bad news written all over it.
4) A No Fly Zone Means Drones Too!
The FAA has strict guidelines about where you can and cannot fly your drone. Although most no-fly zones are common sense it is not worth flying in restricted areas. The ramifications and possible jail time is probably not worth it.
5) Wildfires Are Not Your Friend
The heat of a large forest fire reaches far beyond the flames and your drone becomes an aerial hazard that will interfere with those that are fighting the fire. A drone pilot illegally flying over the “Lake Fire” in San Bernardino County completely shut down evening aerial firefighting operations for 2 ½ hours. The Lake Fire grew overnight while the aerial firefighting crews were grounded. Thousands of additional acres were burned and the pilot was held liable.
6) How High Is Too High
400-feet is the maximum height for flying UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicle) according to FAA regulations to prevent interference with air traffic. Monitor your transmitter’s altimeter reading when flying to ensure you don’t surpass 400-feet. If you don’t have an altimeter, invest in one. At 400-feet, the drone is nearly out of sight and you must rely solely on the built-in safety features of the machine.
7) Even Spielberg Gets a Permit!
Let’s face it, most people do not want to be filmed or photographed from the sky. Common areas where many people are present are considered private and are definitely no-fly zones. Don’t get caught up in a lawsuit because you’re looking for a great crowd shot, it’s not worth it. If you want to get a shot of a public area make sure you have a permit and check with the local authorities about any potential licensing agreement you may need.
8) Protect Your ASSets
For a measly $58, “a membership in the Academy of Model Aeronautics covers you for whatever you fly and wherever you fly.” In Australia, a female triathlete was allegedly struck in the head by a drone piloted by a hired local professional. Most legal experts who have chimed in on this case believe the liability falls on the shoulders of the pilot due to negligence. The AMA’s insurance coverage for its club members provides $2,500,000 in personal liability insurance coverage and $25,000 in medical coverage. If you invest in a drone or cameraship, it’s strongly recommended that you invest an extra few bucks in insurance.
9) If You Can’t See It, You Can’t Fly It
If you take the chance of flying out of your line of sight, you could easily lose radio range of your multirotor drone. Loss of orientation is very common and it is the number one cause for crashes. Flying too far away will often result in a dropped video feed and it will become difficult to be aware of any potential hazards. The FAA also mandates that you never fly further than your line of sight.