Raleigh - This holiday season, don't end up on the naughty list by ignoring guidelines for recreational drone use. Whether they're called quadcopters, radio controlled planes, or any of the high tech brand names, drones are expected to be at the top of many wish lists, with some estimating as many as 1.2 million will be sold by the end of December, a 112 percent increase over last year. Because of this demand, it's important to know some guidelines and safety tips.
"UAS technology is thrilling, but it needs to be used responsibly," said Division of Aviation Director Bobby Walston. "We want to help ensure the safety of people in the air and on the ground while allowing enjoyment of this activity."
All of these devices mentioned fall under the category of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS). UAS technology is a fun and developing field, which can lead to confusion for both UAS owners and the general public. The N.C. Department of Transportation is providing tips to help UAS owners enjoy their new technology while protecting citizens' safety and privacy.
In efforts to educate citizens, the NCDOT Aviation Division will host a Facebook Live session at noon on Tuesday, Dec. 6. Please log on to the Aviation Division's Facebook page to learn more about the guidelines for recreational use and ask questions.
Many UAS owners who receive a drone during this holiday season will use them solely for recreational purposes. While these flights are not heavily regulated, the FAA and model aircraft enthusiast groups have established a number of guidelines which should be followed to ensure a fun and safe experience:
Always fly below an altitude of 400 feet and fly within your direct line of sight.
Do not fly within five miles of an airport, near stadiums or other public events, or for compensation.
Do not fly UAS that weigh more than 55 pounds.
Do not fly at night, even if your UAS is equipped with lights.
Take lessons before flying.
UAS operators, whether recreational, government or commercial, should keep in mind that North Carolina has laws governing drone use. UAS users are subject to all North Carolina laws, even if UAS technology is not specifically mentioned. Current and potential drone owners can find more information about state and federal UAS regulations on the Division of Aviation's website. If giving someone a drone this holiday season, be sure to include this information sheet along with it so they can learn the guidelines and safely enjoy their gift.