So – you’re the proud owner of an unmanned aircraft system, which you may have come to know as a ‘drone’ through commercials and online videos. You may think it is all fun and games, like having a miniature helicopter that you can float around wherever you go. You can take it to the park, out in your front yard with friends – really anywhere you please! However, just like with motor vehicles, airplanes, and other regulated vehicles, there are laws regarding unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) as well. For instance, did you know that, just as with these named vehicles, it is forbidden to operate a UAS while under the influence of alcohol or drugs? UAS are recognized as actual aircrafts and follow the same rules and guidelines that one must follow when they are flying in any form.
Some other things that you should consider deal strongly with the environment that you are in. For instance, many of these UAS contain cameras and it is illegal in many ways to videotape people when they are unaware of it. You should never conduct surveillance or photograph people in areas where there is an expectation of privacy without the individual’s permission. You must also be aware if you are in a rural or agricultural area, as fixed-wing aircrafts and helicopters fly lowest in these areas and you do not want to come in contact with them. You should also never fly near or over sensitive infrastructure like power stations, water treatment facilities, correctional facilities, heavily traveled roadways, or government facilities of any kind.
So why is it important that you learn the rules regarding UAS? It’s simple – if you use your UAS illegally you may not only risk losing it, but also face penalties such as criminal prosecution for your actions! Each state abides by the same laws surrounding UAS, which is why it is important that you learn about proper safety and keep your eyes on your system at all times. It is another reason why, if your UAS falls within the weight requirements, you must register it to learn more about safety procedures. If you plan on flying, the best thing you can remember is this: Be safe!