So you’ve got yourself a new drone. You’ve taken it out of the box and have been having an absolute blast flying it whenever, and wherever you get the chance. If this sounds like you, you’re not alone.
Millions of drones have flooded the recreational market over the past two years, as the availability of the technology has become mainstream. Especially with retailers such as eBay and Amazon, a drone is easily a click away from half the world’s population, or in other words, anyone with an Internet connection. Until recently, a drone (also known as a UAV, or sUAS) was a very specialist piece of equipment, reserved solely for use by experienced hobbyists, capable of constructing their own aircraft from a variety of available components. These custom systems were not only difficult to build, but they usually cost in the hundreds, or in most cases thousands of pounds. The upside of this was that many hobbyists were already experienced with the procedures of safe flight, and flew their aircraft at designated remote aircraft clubs.
However, this is no longer the case, as a drone can be had for as little as £20.00, and comes ready to fly right out of the box. This poses a serious issue for the CAA (Civil Aviation Authority), as they struggle to regulate millions of aircraft entering the airspace flown by individuals, who in many cases have absolutely no experience whatsoever. So it’s very important that even though you’ve bought your drone and intend simply to fly for fun, that you make yourself aware of the new laws and regulations.
Here are the rules you need to be aware of before flying your drone:
DO NOT FLY – General Regulations:
- Beyond Visual Line Of Site
- Higher Than 400ft
- Around Aircraft
- Forest Fires Or Emergencies
DO NOT FLY – At or around:
- Sports Events/Stadiums
- Large Groups of People
- Government Offices
- Military Bases
- Private Property Without Permission
DO NOT FLY – Within 50 Metres Of:
- Any Person
Although you may not be breaking any rules in regards to where you’re flying, you may be breaking laws regarding how you’re flying, and what you’re doing while flying. If your drone has a camera attached, there’s a whole new set of considerations, but I’ll make it really simple. Do not film anyone, anywhere, without their permission! As long as you follow that simple advice, you won’t encounter any issues with privacy law.
So where should you fly?
With all of that said, where can you fly your new drone while staying safe, and remaining within the law? Typically, you want to find locations that are away from general public. This means trying to fly in areas that are as controlled and isolated as possible. Busy public parks are not a good idea, as you will need to maintain a 50 metre distance from any person in the park to stay within the law. A great place to fly is on private property. If you or friends have access to a piece of land behind a home or business, this is a fantastic place to fly your drone, and by far the safest. If you don’t have access to such a property, try to find public sports arenas such as a rugby or football pitch that is not in use. They provide a large empty space, and provide an open clear area to fly. If all that fails, you can always fly indoors so long as you have permission to do so, and keep away from anyone not involved in your flight. The best advice however, if you want to keep your flights outdoors, is simply hop in your car, and head out of the city. Get away from populated areas, and find an open, empty piece of land.
If you have any more questions, or would like to learn about operating a drone commercially, check out: www.caa.co.uk/drones