After lots of diligent research, scouting around and talking to many experts, you finally picked the perfect drone. You made the purchase and brought it home. Then you performed the required assembling and ensured the batteries have been charged.
After that, you read through the manual a few times, and you feel pretty good about your preparation up to now. But so far, you’ve only addressed the operational aspect of being the owner of a new drone.
Urgent Actions Before Flying Your Drone
Even after all of your thorough preparation, there are still legal and liability issues to consider. We will address these specific things you must do before you fly a drone for the first time:
- Register your done online with the FAA
- Ensure that you have liability protection for your drone
- Clearly understand where and when you can fly your drone
- Do not forget to protect your data
- Be aware of commercial drone restrictions
Even though your new drone is a hobby and entertainment for you, it can also create some serious legal problems for you. Prepare ahead of time so that you can fully enjoy having a drone.
Register your done online with the FAA
If your drone weighs more than 0.55 pounds, it must be registered with the FAA before making its maiden flight. This applies even if your drone is purely recreational.
You are also required to label your drone and display your personal contact information along with your FAA registration number. Do not fret about this, as this will help recover your drone if you happen to lose it.
Ensure that you have liability protection for your drone
The fact is that even recreational drones can cause some serious damage to property and even seriously hurt people. This is why you must carry some liability insurance before flying.
Since drones are becoming more and more popular, your existing auto or home insurance may already include coverage – or offer a rider to add to your policy. It is also important to note that the FAA requires that any drone accident causing more than $500 in damage be reported.
Clearly understand where and when you can fly your drone
A very critical rule of operating your drone safely is always to maintain a visual line of sight. This rule of thumb also ensures that you fly your drone under favorable weather conditions and during the daytime.
There are also rules about flying drones near or around airports and air traffic. A drone cannot fly within five miles of airports unless the airport and air traffic control have been notified.
Never fly directly over people who aren’t involved in its operation and never fly higher than 400 feet. Be mindful of other airspace restrictions, such as schools, hospitals, stadiums, and power plants. Installing the FAA’s B4UFLY Smartphone App is highly recommended to keep you apprised of current restrictions.
Do not forget to protect your data
Your drone’s metadata is typically recorded on an unencrypted SD (secure digital) card. Never forget that when you take steps to protect your drone, you are also protecting your data as well.
For instance, when photos and videos are taken by your drone, they are tagged with the current latitude and longitude. Personal drone operators like taking pictures of themselves, their houses, and other personal interests. So if their drone is lost, it could also contain lots of personal and identifiable information.
Be aware of commercial drone restrictions
Even though you will be operating a drone as a hobbyist, it’s good to understand the restrictions for those used commercially. You need to be aware of the distinctions between the two types of usage.
When you understand the difference, you also understand your boundaries more fully.
If you ever decide to hire a professional drone service to video an event like a wedding and such, you’ll know the requirements and licenses needed ahead of time.
Like it or not, drones are becoming a more integral part of modern society. Look for their presence to continue growing as more and more uses are created for them.
Perhaps the biggest segment of future drone usage will come from recreational drones. Get in on the fun as soon as possible, but learn the rules first. Consider this article as a good starting point.