If you've just finished buying a new drone (after considering cost, features, and weight), you may think that the hard work is finally over. Guess again. Drone flying is still in its infancy, and the regulations have made it so that much of your time will be spent deciding where not to fly. Whether you're new to the sport or moving to a new place with new regulations, here are a few tips to get your drone off the ground safely and securely.
Know the Law
A drone is considered an aircraft, just like airplanes. As such, your movements are technically regulated by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). You'll need to be aware of any FAA Notices to Airmen (NOTAM) or Temporary Flight Restrictions (TFRs) before your drone leaves the ground. It's also crucial that you notify the airport if you plan to fly within five miles of a heliport or control tower. There are even more regulations for those who plan to fly a commercial UAV drone, including a TSA vetting and remote pilot airman certificate. Contact the FAA for more information.
Browse the Apps
Fortunately, the FAA has created two apps--Visualize It and B4UFLY--that can let you know what places you can and cannot fly. They'll also let you know about applicable flight ceilings or TFRs. In addition, the app UAV Forecast lets you know about changing weather and wind, as well as applicable no-fly zones. AirMap is also a handy tool for local airports to grant flight permission and to set specific policies for flight.
Talk to the Experts
Next time you stop by the drone service center, ask your UAV repair team to recommend the best spots for drone flying. National parks and rugged terrain are often the best places to fly your drone, but your local drone technicians will undoubtedly have recommendations that you've never considered.
If you're still in the process of buying a new drone, it helps to look into the FAA regulations before you make a purchase. Laws vary depending on weight (for example, there are more restrictions around drones that are more than 55 pounds) and design. Making sure you invest in the best fit for your location will save you plenty of headaches later.