Droning the Rules

Droning is my business, and business can sometimes be a headache. If you are like most people, you probably have an opinion regarding whether drones should be allowed in the public’s hands or not. While many states are racing to catch up and putting their own regulations in place, the Federal Aviation Administration or FAA has already set up their regulations. While the rules for operating a drone are fairly simple from the FAA’s standpoint, the state and local government’s have a tougher time ironing them out. I live in the Adirondacks, so not only do I have to adhere to the rules of the FAA, but New York State, the DEC and the Adirondack Park. There is also a difference between flying a hobbyist model aircraft under Section 336 or flying for commercial purposes under a Part 107 (which is what I do). There may even be certain home owners association rules that you have to follow. So as you can see, there are a lot of regulations to consider before you even think about putting your drone in the air. I was recently droning over 1st Lake in Old Forge, NY when another person did not care for my drone, cleverly named “Rooftop One”, being flown over the lake. I informed him that I was properly trained and had my Part 107 certificate, issued by the FAA and that I was not breaking any laws. He did not like my answer, however, and called law enforcement. The situation ended somewhat where it began, I was able to continue flying, as I was in Class G airspace and not breaking any operating rules. The neighbor was probably still annoyed with me flying and the officer issued no tickets.  Although, he probably needed some advil from this headache.  Here are a small set of rules that the FAA has placed:

Part 107 Operating Rules
– Unmanned aircraft must weigh less than 55 pounds, including payload, at takeoff
– Fly in Class G airspace*
– Keep the unmanned aircraft within visual line-of-sight*
– Fly at or below 400 feet*
– Fly during daylight or civil twilight*
– Fly at or under 100 mph*
– Yield right of way to manned aircraft*
– Do not fly directly over people*
– Do not fly from a moving vehicle, unless in a sparsely populated area*

In the event that you want to make an exception to the above rules, you must get permission from the FAA and complete an Operational Waiver or complete an Airspace Authorization. The FAA also has a B4UFLY app that helps you ensure that you are in the correct airspace, as the FAA is the only one that controls airspace. There is also a very good aeronautical chart, SkyVector, to assist you in determining what airspace that you are in. Most people are typically fascinated with drones and what they can do. There will always be people that don’t share that same sentiment. To fellow drone pilots, stick to the rules, fly responsibly and educate those that don’t understand, and always have a list of rules with you to assist a responding officer.