With great drone comes great responsibility.
Drone safety resources and advice for drone owners are plentiful and you should take time to learn the basics before your first flight. You are required to be in accordance with local authority flying rules, this means keeping your drone in line of sight. Now I know this is a bit of a grey area in the age of FPV, but you just need to stay sensible.
Never push your drone beyond its capabilities as this is unfairly putting other people at risk. Just because your drone can fly miles or kilometres away at top speed, doesn’t mean you should do it. The only exception to this rule is if you are competing in an authorised drone racing event.
It goes without saying that you shouldn’t be flying near airports. Don’t be that guy that thinks it will be amazing to get a video of a plane flying really close up to make some money online. In reality what you are doing is filming your stupidity and uploading it to the Internet for everyone to see. You will likely end up with a huge fine and possibly worse. If you want to film planes, do it from the ground with a long lens and leave your drone at home.
Many newer drones are being equipped with software like DJI’s No Fly Zone (NFZ) feature that will stop you from taking off or breaching the perimeter of a ‘no fly zone’.
For camera drones you also need to be in accordance with filming guidelines. For personal use the rules are pretty flexible but use your common sense. Don’t go flying around schools, prisons, military bases or anywhere else that will likely get you in trouble and have your footage and even the drone taken away from you. Commercial filming is a whole different kettle of fish, it requires a drone flying qualification and insurance. You also may need to acquire permits to shoot in certain places and even get people to sign release forms depending on what you are shooting.
The FAA have released Know Before You Fly which is like an online handbook for drone usage. It covers everything from everyday recreational to commercial business use. The Quick Facts section is really useful to quickly see the dos and don’ts of drone flying. On top of that they have created quick links to legal documents you need to obtain to be able to fly under certain circumstances.
Drones can be incredibly enjoyable to use, but you just need to know your limitations. If you are ever unsure of where you can and can’t fly then you can check out the local flight authority site. Alternatively if flying in the UK you can check out the NoFlyDrones site or if you are in the US you can use the map over at Know Before You Fly. These are both superb resources to just check out flying areas at a glance and see where the restricted air space is, so that you can avoid it and stay out of bother.
Another great written resource is The Drone Pilot’s Handbook by Adam Juniper. This is a small paperback book (also available in Kindle edition) that contains 160 pages of information about using drones, including a good section on drone safety.
Don’t be the one that is made an example out of and ruins it for everybody else, use your common sense and stay safe out there.
Other useful resources
Drone Safety Video