Raleigh - One of the gifts most likely to top wish lists for kids and adults alike this holiday season is a drone. Retailers estimate as many as 1.2 million unmanned aircraft systems, or drones, will be sold by the end of December, a 112 percent increase over last year. The N.C. Department of Transportation wants to help recreational drone operators stay off the naughty list with a set of safety tips.
"Flying a drone is thrilling and fun, but it can also be dangerous if not used responsibly," Aviation Division Director Bobby Walston said. "These guidelines help ensure the safety of people in the air and on the ground while enjoying this activity."
State officials and industry groups have established a number of safety guidelines for recreational drone use that should be followed before taking to the skies:
Always fly below an altitude of 400 feet and fly within your direct line of sight.
Do not fly within 5 miles of an airport, near stadiums or other public events, or for compensation.
Do not fly drones that weigh more than 55 pounds.
Do not fly at night, even if your drone is equipped with lights.
Do take lessons before flying.
Most people who receive a drone this holiday season will use it solely for recreational purposes. The Federal Aviation Administration requires drone owners to register their drone at online at registermyuas.faa.gov. Failure to register carries civil and criminal penalties.
Drone operators should keep in mind that North Carolina has laws governing drone use, whether it be for recreational, commercial or government purposes. Current and potential drone owners can find more information about state and federal drone regulations on the Division of Aviation's website at ncdot.gov/aviation/uas.