Avoiding Aviation Aggravation: Recreational Small Aircraft and Drone Safety

Author James Mash 4.8.2015. | 10:53

Drones aren’t just for the government anymore. Regular people can buy them and fly them almost anywhere. But, you do have to abide by certain safety procedures and you’re responsible for your aircraft. Here’s how to use a drone safely before sending it off into the wild blue yonder.

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Abide By All Laws

First things first: you must abide by all local and federal laws, that are applicable in your country. Mostly, this means paying attention to important FAA / EASA /Other Aviation Authorities, (depending on where you are) rules regarding small aircraft. Now, you’re not flying a plane, really. But, at the same time, the Aviation authorities in your country such as the FAA in the US impose rules on what you do with the drone.

The FAA restrictions are a follows

You must fly no higher than 400 feet, for example. You must keep your aircraft within your eyesight at all times, using an observer if you need assistance.

You must also stay clear of all manned aircraft, avoid contact with other aircraft, buildings, and anything else in the sky.

You cannot intentionally fly over unprotected people or moving vehicles and you must stay at least 25 feet away from other people and property.

You must contact an airport before you fly within five miles of it, and do not fly in adverse weather.

You cannot fly under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and you are responsible for flying the drone in an environment that is safe to both you and anyone else in the area where you will be flying.

Don’t fly over sensitive structures, like power lines, water-treatment facilities, or highways or government buildings (nope, they don’t want you snooping on them).

Naturally, these restrictions might limit your choice of aircraft, depending on where you want to fly, your flying skills, and your budget.

This phantom 3 review discusses some of the more advanced drones out there – specifically the phantom 3. Advanced sensors, GPS, and precision controls make newer drone aircraft more fun, and more forgiving – especially in urban areas where space gets tight very quickly. Chinavasion has some wholesale priced drones that can provide a good alternative if you can’t afford a Phantom 3.

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Use Common Sense

Common sense isn’t always common, so let’s be clear: you should always fly with your eyes and ears open. If it seems like a dangerous maneuver, or if the terrain seems dangerous to fly over, don’t do it.

Pay attention to no-fly zones. If it’s a no-fly zone, guess what? You can’t fly there. Believe it or not, some airports and government properties have problems with this and it’s eventually going to cause problems for the drone hobbyist. Don’t add to that problem.

Don’t fly your drone in a way that might scare or intimidate someone else. While flying, do not let your drone get out of your eyesight – ever.

Opt for drones with propeller guards. Not only are they safer for your drone, they protect other people and property too.

Spinning blades tend to scare pedestrians, and that could get your drone taken away from you.

Do A Flight Check

Get in the habit of doing a pre-fight and flight check before you take it up to full altitude. The best way to go about doing this is to inspect the drone before each use. Manually check the propellers and the motor, check for any visible signs of damage.

Make sure the drone is fully charged before use, and do a low-altitude check a few feet off the ground. Make sure you don’t have any control problems and that the drone is moving normally.

Always watch the drone as you take it up to altitude. Keep your eye on it at all times.

And, remember, keep it under 400 feet.

Keep Away From Crowds

Staying away from people is critical. This isn’t just a safety issue. It’s a legal issue. If you’re caught flying in unsafe areas, or your injure someone with your toy, you could face serious legal repercussions.

Yes, you could be sued, but if someone is injured or killed it could also be a criminal hearing.

Pay Attention To No-Fly Areas

The FAA in the US is serious about no-fly areas. Do not wander into an airport space, stay at least 5 miles away from any airport, and don’t fly into any government-protected area.

If you have any doubts, it’s probably a bad idea to fly.

For example, you can’t fly in stadiums, at major public events, or around infrastructures like highways, dams, and buildings.

Most of this is common sense, but if you really don’t know if you’re supposed to be flying in a particular area, do some research, contact the local airport (to verify you’re not too close), or contact the FAA or relevant local aviation authority about your particular flight path.


This guest post was contributed by Eric Markov, a drone enthusiast and RC builder. He’s been flying various model aircraft for the past 5 years. He is currently developing advanced long range models and advancing FPV quality. He enjoys sharing his insights through blogging.

Author James Mash 4.8.2015. | 10:53
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