Recreational drone laws are less known but you need to have an idea about it as the drone industry is spiraling. To give you an idea, it is expected that there will be over 7 million drones in US skies by the end of the year. That is enough to cover half of the central park.
Earlier, a drone was merely used in gaming competitions or during the special occasion for a photoshoot. However, now a lot of (untrained) people have started flying it as a hobby. Resultantly, there has been a steady rise in accidents, sounding alarm bells, and leading many countries to formulate tight regulations.
So, if you are a hobbyist and frequently fly recreational drones, below are some of the rules you need to follow strictly.
Or else, you would end up in jail!
The rules vary from country to country, but the below list will give you a general idea.
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Don’t fly near government buildings or celebrities
As we mentioned at the start, it is a common sight to use drones for photography. While using a recreational drone at your close friend’s birthday or a relative’s wedding will help you cherish the memories for years to come, doing the same for a picture of celebrity will lead to a battery of problems.
In 2013, a man flew a drone close to German Chancellor Angela Merkel at a press conference. The police immediately detained him. During investigations, the man said that it was only an attempt for a close shot, upon which he was released.
Though it might seem totally harmless to fly a drone near celebrities for a photo as they cannot carry weapons, it is still prohibited to do so as a precautionary step.
Similarly, recreational drone laws prohibit flying in close proximity to government buildings.
Keep a safe distance from all things and objects (Recreational Drone Laws)
It is not just government buildings and celebrities that you should be wary of. In the UK, it is not allowed to fly a drone within 164 feet of anything- Be it ordinary citizens or any structure. In the USA, the law is a bit lenient, and you need to be 10 feet away.
These laws are in place for the convenience and protection of citizens. Flying close to someone will surely irritate them. Also, if the drone malfunctions and falls, there is an even chance of an injury. Furthermore, flying close to any building invades the privacy of the residents.
How High Can You Fly a Drone?
How high can you fly a drone? This is another point to consider while learning about the laws related to drones. I know this seems to contradict the previous point, but flying at high altitude is also forbidden due to safety reasons. A typical recreational drone can go as high as 10,000 feet, but you are not allowed to go higher than 400 feet both in the USA and UK.
There are two main reasons why the 400 limit applies. Firstly, going above that means it might cause disturbance for helicopters and low flying planes.
Secondly, the drone gets out of sight if you fly it above 400 meters, which makes it tricky to keep it in control. Hence, it is always a good idea not to fly it too high.
Doing illegal things without the drone
So, you are extra cautious regarding the drone, but there is another thing that can land you in trouble i.e., the attachments with the drone.
Yes, you might be allowed to deliver a pizza but not a drug in a pizza box. No matter how much creativity you try to put in, it is easier to get caught. Laws regarding drones have been recently formulated, and as a result, drones are under increased scrutiny.
Flying Near an Airport
This might seem like a no brainer, but a lot of people don’t pay heed to the rule. According to the US Federal Aviation Administration, it is strictly prohibited to fly a drone within 5 miles of an airport.
The rules might be different in other countries, so it is always a good idea to check them.
Flying in no-fly Zones (Recreational Drone Laws)
This point might seem similar to the previous one as an airport is also a no-fly zone. However, from time to time, small no-fly zones are created for special events. e.g., in case of a political event, if some celebrity is visiting, etc.
Some places are permanent no-fly zones e.g., you cannot fly a drone in New York at any time of the year.
There are a lot of resources available on the internet which outline in detail the no-fly zones of different countries around the world. You may want to have a detailed look at it to avoid going behind bars.
This might seem to be a strange law as we want to capture the mesmerizing moments of the wildlife and national scenery.
The reason behind this restriction is that drones can disturb not only wildlife but also irritate the tourist. You can always use your mobile phones to capture those captivating moments.
Flying a Drone Without Registration
You might be following all the rules and regulations but can still land in trouble if the drone is not registered.
Registering a drone in the USA is hassle-free and costs less than $10. On the contrary, flying an unregistered drone can lead to $27,500 fine and also three months in jail. So, do the math yourself and see what option is better to go for.
Get your drone insured (Recreational Drone Laws)
Drone insurance laws don’t apply to the USA but are necessary in many countries around the world. The insurance covers damages caused to the drone in case of an accident as well as to the general public.
Generally speaking, there are two main types of insurances- drone hull insurance and drone liability insurance. Have a detailed look at both of them and see which one is best for your drone. Ideally, it would help if you opted for both types.
Don’t Fly at Night
It is not allowed to fly a drone at night, even if you have some lights on it. The rule is in place due to safety concerns for aircraft and other flying objects.
However, if you really need to fly at night, you will need special permission from the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) in the USA. This might, or not, cost extra. Nighttime is considered 30 minutes before sunrise and 30 minutes after sunset.
So, these were some of the recreational drone laws that you need to keep in mind before flying it. Drones are yet to become mainstream. The reason being a lot of issues regarding drones need to be worked upon. Resultantly, the rules regarding drones are stiff. Until then, it is essential to follow these laws strictly. Or else you would be on a fast track to land in jail.