Just got your drone? Here are 5 things you need to know

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(Picture: Mini, jumping drones)

So, you got a drone for Christmas, Hanukkah, or Kwanzaa, huh? You could be among thousands — potentially tens of thousands — of new drone users after this holiday season, according to industry leaders.

Once you’ve unpacked your high-tech gift, you should probably read up on the Federal Aviation Association’s guidelines to make sure you avoid nearly colliding with a Boeing 747 or slicing someone’s face at a TGI Friday’s. Yes, both have happened.

Three drone associations partnered with the FAA this month to spread the word about the guidelines to safely operate drones — the Know Before You Fly campaign.

But since we both know there’s a good chance you could find a way to get into your own kind of trouble, we’ve boiled down the must-knows right here:

1. Don’t use your camera-equipped drone to get a closer look at airplanes in mid-air.

It’s illegal for recreational drones to be flown higher than 400 feet or within 5 miles of an airport. The FAA has already recorded 25 incidents when small drones got too close for comfort with manned aircrafts.

Pilots have also reported unmanned aerial vehicles, or UVAs, several thousands of feet in the air, sometimes coming within just a few dozen feet of their aircraft, according to FAA data.

And drones could do serious damage. Remember when a plane was forced to miraculously land on the Hudson River after hitting at least one bird? Now, replace that bird with a drone.

2. Headed to the game? Leave the drone at home.

You might be tempted to send your quadcopter above the field to get an aerial view, but remember there’s always the Jumbotron.

The FAA advises drone pilots to keep their crafts away from large crowds and out of stadiums and racetracks.

The blades on some drones can seriously injure, like when a mistletoe marketing gimmick that involved a drone inside a TGI Friday’s went wrong, cutting a photographer.

3. And you definitely want to keep your drone away from power lines.

The FAA warns users to keep their drones away from “power stations, water treatment facilities, correctional facilities, heavily traveled roadways, government facilities, etc.”

Earlier this month an Australian man literally crashed a nine-hour police operation, almost hitting one of the police officers, after his drone got tangled in power lines, CNET reported.

Anyway, that shouldn’t happen as long as you keep your drone within your line of sight at all times, another guideline for drone use.

4. Making money off your drone without a permit — illegal.

The FAA needs to OK the commercial use of any drone, whether that’s selling photos or videos, providing security or making a movie using a UAV.

The FAA even fined one man $10,000 for using a drone to shoot a promotional video.

5. Don’t be a creep.

The Academy of Model Aeronautics, one of three drone groups collaborating with the FAA, advises users not to use drones to photograph people secretly or spy on them.

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Kentucky, is already worried enough about the government using drones to invade people’s privacy without having to worry about civilian and commercial drones peering into people’s windows.

1 Comment

  • OneMan'sOpinion

    Private-sector use of drones will become illegal once a plane is downed (#1 above). Many people will go to prison for #2, #3 and #5 and there will be a number of hospital visits for #2 and #3.
    #1 will fill the morgue when it happens.

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